SOLAS / VGM

From July 1 2016, in line with IMO’s amendment of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, shippers will be required to provide a verified weight prior to a shipping container being loaded to a ship.

Shippers are legally required to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for any laden container being shipped from the Port. If the shipper is unable to provide a VGM, The Bristol Port Company is looking to offer a weighing solution.

The main principles connected to the shipment of containers, and supply of VGMs, at The Bristol Port Company are as follows:

  • Without a valid VGM, the container will not be loaded to ship.
  • Shippers are strongly urged to have a VGM in place (via either Method 1 or 2) by 1st July 2016.
  • If the Shipper is unable to provide a VGM, The Bristol Port Company can determine a Terminal VGM but this has both cost and time implications.
  • Payment terms in relation to invoices for the determination of Terminal VGM services are 14 days. Failure to make payment within that period will entitle The Bristol Port Company to withdraw the offer of this service and containers may not be loaded to vessel.
  • Shipping lines have been fully consulted and endorse these principles.
  • For the month of July (2016) The Bristol Port Company has agreed, in consultation with the shipping lines, not to charge for the determination of a Terminal VGM to allow shippers some grace in putting procedures in place. Thereafter, full rates will apply.

For rates and charge information please see the Schedule of SOLAS / VGM charges.

Each dock at Bristol (Royal Portbury Dock and Avonmouth Dock) has a different approach to providing a VGM weighing solution in line with their respective terminal designs. These approaches are described in the tabbed sections below.

The Bristol Port Company has installed weighing equipment onto its reach stackers, in compliance with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Method 1 requirement.

At any time prior to 24 hours before arrival, shippers can provide a VGM, electronically through the port community system, Destin8, to The Bristol Port Company.

On arrival at the container terminal, the terminal will check if a VGM has been received.

If there is a VGM in place, the container will be taken into the terminal ready for export.

If there is no VGM in place then, as part of the standard operating procedure, the containers will be weighed using the equipment on the terminal reach stackers with a Terminal Verified Gross Mass (TVGM) captured, which TVGM as determined by the equipment will be transmitted to the Shipping Line via Destin8. Shippers have up until 24 hours prior to scheduled vessel arrival to provide a VGM. If at this point there is no VGM available then the TVGM as determined above will be allocated against the container and transmitted to the Shipping Line via Destin8.

Shippers who rely upon the TVGM for supplying the information will then be liable for a charge as shown on the charge sheet. These charges will be invoiced to the export declarant in the port community system, Destin8. If it is not shown here, the invoice party will be as supplied by the Shipping Line.

Attention is also drawn to the Important Notes which apply in relation to the provision by shippers of VGMs, the provision of container weighing service and the determination of TVGMs at Royal Portbury Dock.