New weight checks for exporters shipping FCLs

11 March 2016


Exporters of full container loads (FCLs) are being urged to familiarise themselves with changes to safety regulations which come into force on July 1.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has issued MGN534 which sets out the legal position following amendments to chapter IV of SOLAS, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

It now states that the gross mass of packed containers must be verified prior to stowage aboard ship. The shipper, or sender, is responsible for the verification of the gross mass of a container carrying cargo, and also for ensuring that the verified gross mass is included in the shipping documents and sent to the ship's master or his representative and the terminal representative in time for them to prepare the ship stowage plan.

It adds that if the information is not provided by the shipper, the container should not be loaded on to the ship to which the SOLAS regulations apply unless it can be obtained through other means.

The rules stress that the responsibility for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of a packed container lies with the shipper, defined as the legal entity or person named as shipper on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document, and/or who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company.

Methods for obtaining the verified gross mass of a packed container

The SOLAS regulations prescribe two methods by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container:

Method 1:

Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment (e.g.  weighbridges, load cell sensing technologies etc.). (See annex 3 of MGN534)

Method 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 UK competent authority, that is, the MCA or its authorised body.

Action required

Exporters of full container loads need to familiarise themselves with the requirements of MGN534 as soon as possible and if they intend to use Method 2, they must register their intent with the MCA as set out in Annex 2 of MGN534.

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