VERMAS EDIFACT Message – Verified Gross Mass: The necessity Of Weight Verification

VERMAS EDIFACT Message purpose is to transmit the verified gross mass (the weight) and all details of the related weighing certificate for a packed container including the name of the authorized person. It is a legal requirement that all parties along the transport chain are informed about the Verified Gross Mass of the container: Shipper, Carrier, Vessel Operator, Terminal and the vessel itself.

VERMAS EDIFACT Message History

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 93rd session (May 2014) approved changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention regarding a mandatory container weight verification requirement on shippers. This is an effort WSC has been advocating for many years. Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargo and Containers (DSC) Sub-committee approved changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention that will require verification of container weights before loaded containersmay be placed aboard ships. The DSC report was approved by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in May 2014 and adopted by MSC in November 2014. The requirement making container weight verification a condition for vessel loading become legally binding on July 1, 2016.

The Shipper is responsible for providing a VERMAS EDIFACT Message for each full container. He may decide between two methods:

  1. to weigh the packed container or
  2. to add the weight of all cargo items plus the weight of the packing material plus the tare weight of the container.

VERMAS EDIFACT Message Requirements and consequences

  • The VGM can only be ascertained for a completely packed container.
  • The shipper may delegate the actual procedure of ascertaining the VGM to a 3 rd party, for example a weighing facility at an inland depot or at a terminal.
  • The terminal must not load a packed container on a SOLAS ocean vessel as long as it is not in possession of its VGM.
  • The vessel command must not accept a packed container on board until they have been informed about its VGM.
  • The VGM is part of shipping documents. Besides the weight itself, the name of the responsible person authorized by the Shipper must be contained.
  • A container status may change from “VGM not available” to “VGM available”. An existing VGM may be revised by means of EDI messages.
  • EDI messages must be able to distinguish “VGM” and “gross mass without verification”.
  • The typical reporting chains is: Shipper – Carrier – Terminal – Vessel, but different variants are possible.

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