New SOLAS Requirements for Export Containers

Fremantle1/ May 31, 2016/ Customs and Quarantine Updates

SOLAS – Safety of Life at Sea.

From 1st July 2016, all export containers leaving Australia will not be allowed to enter the wharf, unless a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) has been provided to the wharf in advance.


Who is responsible for providing VGM?

The Shipper is responsible for obtaining and recording the verified gross mass of a packed container.

What are the weighing methods for VGM?

The verified gross mass can be obtained using one of two methods.

  • Method 1: Weighing the Packed Container (going over a weight bridge)
  • Method 2: Weigh all the packages and cargo items, including the pallets, and then adding the tare mass of the container. The weighing equipment used to weigh the contents of the container must meet applicable accuracy standards and requirements set out in the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009.

Which is the preferred method?

Method 1. Taking the full container over a weighbridge. Our transport company can organise this once you have packed your container and they have picked it up from your premises. There is a fee involved in going over a weighbridge, but this results in a much higher degree of accuracy when reporting VGM to the wharf. Meaning less chance of penalties to you as an exporter as a result of weighing errors.

How do I know if my scales meet the standard?

If your device falls under the National Measurement Institute legislation, it will have a certification seal/label. If yours doesnt fall under the legislation, a number of organisations can test the scale to see whether it fits within the maximum permissible allowances. Some of these providers can be found on the NMI website:

What happens if I don’t declare VGM?

The container will not be processed for loading on to the ship. Should a container arrive at the gate of a terminal with shipping documentation that does not include the VGM, the container will not be granted access.

Penalties may apply for non-compliance. The accuracy of teh weight reported is solely the responsibility of the shipper. This could be monitored by the relevant regulatory authority.

For more information, download the new SOLAS App from the app store: