Verification of the gross mass of packed containers by sea

Information and links to documents referenced in MGN 534


International FAQ 2016

UK National FAQ 1st June 2016

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This page has information about the container weight requirements and links to documents referenced in MGN 534.

If you would like to make an application to have your container weight method approved by the MCA please click here

For the public database of MCA approved weighers please click here

Please note, due to force majeure Ecuador has advised they will be delaying their instigation of the container weight requirements for containers shipped from their ports until further notice.

1. MGN 534

Guidance on the implementation of the SOLAS VI Regulation 2 amendment requiring the verification of the gross mass of packed containers is found within MGN534. This MGN outlines the position in the UK with regard to the amendments to SOLAS VI which took effect from 1st July 2016. It also highlights detailed guidance for UK shippers, terminals/ports and carriers on implementing the SOLAS VI provisions.

As a result of working with industry and other stakeholders in producing MGN 534, it was considered that the background documents and other information should not be published as part of the MGN but be made available through this webpage.
The list of topics below, is not exhaustive, and the information described below are of an informative nature. It is expected that they will be added or edited as the UK’s experience of applying the new SOLAS provisions progresses.

2. Verification Methods

The shipper is responsible for providing a VGM to the carrier.

In the UK there are two methods of verifying the gross mass of a container. Given below is how the UK has implemented both methods.

Method 1

Weighing the packed and sealed container. Using weighbridges, or lifting equipment fitted with load cells, or other appropriate weighing equipment to determine the verified gross mass (VGM) of a loaded container. Calculations may be used as part of the method 1 process. Records must be kept to demonstrate the VGM provided represents the gross mass of the container.

Method 1 users are not required to register with the MCA, however shippers must, upon request by the MCA or other body, provide evidence that the weighing equipment meets national standards appropriate to its class; is maintained by a competent person; is calibrated; is being operated correctly; and is safe. Records must be kept of maintenance and calibration procedures, including any corrective / remedial actions taken.

Method 2

Method 2 involves a summation of the weight of the cargo, weight of pallets, dunnage (items used to secure the cargo etc.), and the tare weight of the container. A shipper using method 2 must have their method approved by the MCA.

The UK Method 2 process was developed with the assistance of an industry working group with the aim of minimising bureaucracy whilst using shippers existing procedures. It should be noted, that the requirement to provide a gross mass has always been required, and the change is to the need to verify the weight is accurate. It is the shippers choice of which method is used.

The shipper is responsible for providing a VGM to the carrier. A shipper may contract out the packing and the determination of the VGM of a container. The verified gross mass should be as accurate. The MCA has set an enforcement tolerance of ±5% or ±500kg, whichever is the greater value, to avoid disruption within the supply chain. This value is for enforcer’s guidance only and it is the shipper’s responsibility to be accurate.

3. Application Process

If you would like to make an application to have your container weight method approved by the MCA please click here The fee for processing of the application is £94.00. Once the application has been received the MCA will reply with an application number and instructions on how to pay the fee. Applicants have the option of paying by credit card or bank transfer, and must quote their application number when making payment. A credit card form to complete and submit with your application and a PDF document containing the bank details to which payment should be made can be found here. If more information is required you will receive communication from the MCA. The application checklist is indicative due to the wide range of organisations to which the requirements apply. Organisations should make an application in the way most suitable to them. Contact the MCA on with any queries.

4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

For the UK National FAQ document click here

For the International FAQ document click here

5. SOLAS VI Regulation 2 amendment


Regulation 2 – Cargo information

The following new paragraphs 4 to 6 are added after existing paragraph 3:

4 In the case of cargo carried in a container*, except for containers carried on a chassis or a trailer when such containers are driven on or off a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages as defined in regulation III/3, the gross mass according to paragraph 2.1 of this regulation shall be verified by the shipper, either by:

4.1. weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment; or

4.2. weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.

5 The shipper of a container shall ensure the verified gross mass** is stated in the shipping document. The shipping document shall be:

5.1. signed by a person duly authorized by the shipper;

5.2. submitted to the master or his representative and to the terminal representative sufficiently in advance, as required by the master or his representative, to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan***

6 If the shipping document, with regard to a packed container, does not provide the verified gross mass and the master or his representative and the terminal representative have not obtained the verified gross mass of the packed container, it shall not be loaded on to the ship.

The term “container” should be considered as having the same meaning as defined and applied in the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972, as amended, taking into account the Guidelines for the approval of offshore containers handled in open seas (MSC/Circ.860) and the Revised Recommendations on harmonized interpretation and implementation of the International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972, as amended (CSC.1/Circ.138/Rev.1). ** Refer to the Guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo (MSC.1/Circ.1475). *** This document may be presented by means of EDP or EDI transmission techniques. The signature may be an electronic signature or may be replaced by the name, in capitals, of the person authorized to sign.”

6. IMO MSC 1/Circ.1475 Guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo

See document here.

7. Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)


8. International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC)

The Convention for Safe Containers has two aims.

One is to maintain a high level of safety of human life in the transport and handling of containers by providing generally acceptable test procedures and related strength requirements.

The other is to help the international transport of containers by providing consistent international safety regulations, equally applicable to all modes of surface transport. In this way, an excess of different national safety regulations can be avoided.

Available via

MGN 534

IMO have issued MSC.1/Circ.1548, please click here to view this document.

Published 10 June 2015
Last updated 2 June 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated UK National FAQ document 1st June 2016 and new IMO MSC Circular
  2. Updates to FAQ and application section
  3. Updated information on UK approval for methods used to determine verified gross mass of containers.
  4. First published.