In the field of freight forwarding, it is essential to ensure safety and efficiency at every stage of the process. One of the key concerns is to ensure that the weight of sea containers is accurate and reliably verified prior to loading onto ships. To address this need, the concept of VGM (Verified Gross Mass) was implemented, which plays a crucial role in the maritime transport of goods.

In this article, we will explore in detail what VGM is and its importance in freight transportation. We will also examine the associated regulations and requirements, the responsibilities of the different actors involved, the accepted methods for determining VGM, the verification process and the consequences of non-compliance. In addition, we will discuss the benefits of VGM in terms of safety and efficiency, as well as the challenges and considerations when implementing this practice.

VGM has become an essential requirement in the freight forwarding industry, and understanding its nature and proper application is critical to ensuring an efficient and safe supply chain. Join us on this journey as we explore the different aspects related to VGM and its vital role in global trade.


What is VGM

The VGM (Verified Gross Mass) is a fundamental concept in the field of freight transport, especially in the maritime sector. Refers to the total weight of a cargo container, including the goods, their packaging and the container itself.

Accurate and reliable weight verification is essential to ensure safety, avoid accidents and comply with international regulations.

Prior to the implementation of the VGM, container weights were estimated or based on information provided by exporters or shippers. However, this practice proved to be insufficient and unreliable, leading to concerns about vessel stability, cargo damage and dock worker safety.


VGM Objectives

The VGM emerged as a solution to address these concerns. Its implementation requires exporters or shippers to provide the verified weight of containers prior to loading on the ship. This verified weight is obtained by approved and certified weighing methods.

It is important to note that the VGM is applied internationallyfollowing the regulations established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). These regulations came into effect on July 1, 2016 through the amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

The main objective of the VGM is to ensure that the declared weight of containers is accurate and reliable. This helps to avoid imbalances in cargo distribution, minimize the risk of accidents during maritime transport and safeguard the integrity of the cargo and the safety of the people involved in the logistics chain.

In short, the VGM is the verified and certified weight of a cargo container, including the cargo, the packaging and the container itself. Its implementation is essential to ensure safety and efficiency in maritime transportation avoiding accidents and ensuring proper weight distribution on ships.

In the following sections, we will explore in more detail the importance of VGM in the maritime transport of goods, as well as the associated regulations and requirements.


Importance of VGM in freight transport

VGM plays a fundamental role in the transportation of goods, and its importance lies in several key aspects that ensure safety, efficiency and regulatory compliance in the maritime industry.


Vessel stability

First, the VGM is crucial to ensure the stability of ships during the transport of goods. Vessels are designed to operate safely and efficiently within specific weight ranges. By providing the verified weight of containers, overloading or unbalanced distribution of cargo is avoided, which could endanger the stability of ships and lead to serious accidents.


International regulations

In addition to safety, VGM also plays an important role in complying with international regulations. The implementation of the VGM is based on the guidelines established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and compliance is mandatory for exporters and shippers worldwide.

VGM ensures that legal and regulatory requirements related to the accurate declaration of cargo weight on sea containers are met.


Load planning

Another key aspect of the importance of the VGM is its contribution to the optimization of load planning. By knowing the exact weight of containers, shipping lines and logistics operators can properly distribute cargo on ships, maximizing the use of available space and improving transportation efficiency.

This helps to avoid problems of overloading some containers and underloading others, which could lead to inefficiencies and delays in the supply chain.



In addition, the VGM is also relevant in the customs area. By having a verified and reliable weight of containers, customs authorities can manage cargo control and verification procedures more efficiently, streamlining customs processes and reducing the risk of smuggling or fraud.


In summary, VGM plays a crucial role in the maritime transport of goods, offering significant benefits in terms of safety, regulatory compliance, efficiency in cargo planning and agility in customs processes.

Their proper implementation and enforcement are critical to ensure a reliable and secure supply chain in international trade.


VGM requirements and regulations

The VGM is supported by a series of requirements and regulations established by international organizations, with the objective of guaranteeing the accuracy and veracity of the declared weights of containers.

These regulations and responsibilities extend to both shippers and carriers, who play key roles in the VGM verification process.

In addition, there are accepted methods for determining VGM, which must be followed to meet established standards.


Regulations and international organizations involved

VGM is regulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations in charge of setting international standards for maritime safety and protection of the marine environment.

The IMO introduced the VGM regulations as an amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

The SOLAS amendment requires exporters or shippers to provide the verified weight of containers prior to loading on vessels. This regulation is applicable globally and applies to all IMO member countries.

The purpose of these regulations is to guarantee the safety of human life at sea, prevent accidents and ensure the stability of ships.


Obligations of the shipper and the carrier

Compliance with the VGM implies responsibilities for both shippers and carriers.

Shippers are responsible for providing the verified weight of containers to shipping lines or freight forwarders prior to shipment. They must ensure that the weighing methods used are certified and approved, thus guaranteeing the accuracy of the data supplied.

On the other hand, carriers are obliged not to load any container on the ship if the VGM has not been provided. They must also ensure that verified weights are properly recorded on cargo documents and transmitted to all parties involved in the supply chain.


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VGM verification process

The VGM verification process involves the active participation of both the shipper and the cargo terminal. Both have specific roles and key responsibilities to ensure accuracy and compliance with established requirements.


Responsibilities of the shipper and the cargo terminal

The shipper has the primary responsibility for providing the VGM. This implies that they must ensure that the verified weight of the container, including cargo and packaging, is correctly determined and communicated to the appropriate party, which is usually the shipping line or freight forwarder.

On the other hand, the cargo terminal is responsible for verifying the VGM before allowing the container to be loaded on the ship. This involves verifying the consistency and completeness of the information provided by the shipper, ensuring that the verified weight meets the required standards and is correctly recorded on the cargo documents.


VGM declaration and filing procedure

The VGM declaration and filing procedure involves several important steps.

First, the shipper must determine the verified weight of the container, and once the weight is obtained, it must be provided to the shipping line or freight forwarder in accordance with the established deadlines.

The VGM information must include accurate details on the total weight of the container, the container reference number and other relevant data. This information is generally in the form of an official declaration, which must be transmitted electronically or on paper depending on the requirements of the port or shipping line.


Consequences of non-compliance

Failure to comply with VGM requirements can have significant consequences. If the shipper does not provide the VGM prior to loading, the carrier will not be able to load the container on the vessel. This can lead to delays in the supply chain, additional costs and possible penalties for non-compliance.

In addition, failure to comply with the VGM may have legal and liability implications. In the event of a maritime accident or any problem related to incorrect container weights, the parties involved could face lawsuits and legal disputes, as well as loss of confidence and reputation in the industry.

It is essential that both shippers and cargo terminals comply rigorously with VGM regulations to ensure safety, efficiency and regulatory compliance in the transportation of goods.

Below, we will explore the challenges associated with VGM, as well as important considerations when implementing this requirement.


Challenges and considerations when implementing VGM

The implementation of the VGM presents certain challenges and considerations that must be addressed to ensure its effectiveness and adequate compliance. These challenges include:


Education and awareness

It is essential to provide adequate education and awareness of VGM requirements to all actors involved in the supply chain. This includes shippers, carriers, cargo terminals and customs authorities.

A clear understanding of the regulations and responsibilities related to VGM is essential to ensure successful implementation.


Weighing capacity

In some cases, there may be limitations on the availability of adequate weighing facilities at ports or cargo terminals. This can make it difficult to obtain the verified weight of containers accurately and in a timely manner.

It is necessary to ensure that appropriate and sufficient weighing facilities are in place to meet VGM requirements.


Coordination among stakeholders

Effective implementation of the VGM requires proper coordination between shippers, carriers and cargo terminals.

It is essential to establish clear and fluid communication to ensure that VGM information is transmitted correctly and in a timely manner. Lack of coordination can lead to cargo delays and affect supply chain efficiency.


Compliance and enforcement

Proper VGM compliance requires effective oversight and rigorous enforcement of regulations. It is essential to establish control mechanisms and sanctions for those who do not comply with VGM requirements. This ensures the integrity of the supply chain and promotes confidence in the system.


Addressing these challenges and considerations effectively is critical to ensuring the successful implementation of the VGM. Collaboration among all stakeholders, investment in adequate weighing infrastructure and continuous improvement in education and awareness are key elements to overcome the challenges and achieve a successful implementation of the VGM.


Across Logistics, your reliable international logistics partner

In the competitive world of international trade, a reliable and experienced logistics partner is essential to ensure efficient and successful supply chain management. At Across Logistics we position ourselves as your reliable international logistics partner.

With years of experience in the industry, we offer a wide range of services and customized solutions to meet your business logistics needs. Our team of logistics experts understands the challenges and complexities of global freight forwarding, and we are committed to providing you with exceptional service every step of the way.

We specialize in integrated supply chain management, from shipping to warehousing and distribution. We work closely with you to understand your specific requirements and develop logistics solutions tailored to your needs.

As your logistics partner, we take care of coordinating and optimizing all operations related to the transport of goods, including VGM verification. We ensure that all containers comply with VGM requirements, guaranteeing safety, efficiency and regulatory compliance in maritime transport.

In addition, we have a global network of agents and strategic partners that allows us to offer you worldwide coverage. Our experience in customs management and documentary procedures allows us to streamline processes and minimize transit times.

Our priority is to provide you with quality service and personalized attention. We are committed to maintaining open and transparent communication, providing you with real-time updates on the status of your shipments and responding to all your queries and requirements in a timely manner.

Contact us today
and find out how we can help you achieve success in your international logistics operations.