Box weighing rules

New international box weighing rules for ocean freight came into effect on July 1, 2016.


Since then, shippers of a packed container are responsible for determining and declaring the verified gross mass (VGM) per container prior to defined cut-off times.


This infographic explains, how it works.


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has made respective mandatory amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to improve safety all along global supply chains.


Responsibility lies with the shipper


The shipper, meaning the legal entity or person named on the bill of lading, is responsible for determining, documenting and submitting the VGM of a packed container to the contractual carrier. If a third-party is entrusted with weighing a container and submitting the data on the shipper’s behalf, the shipper still remains fully responsible (liable) for the accuracy of the VGM.


NOTE: The SOLAS requirements are distinct from the INCOTERMS, which govern the sale of the goods, not their transport.


How to determine VGM


For shippers that hand over goods to Panalpina as less than container load (LCL), there is no change in the booking and shipping process. However, cut-off times may be moved forward because for LCL shipments, it is Panalpina’s obligation to verify the gross mass of the packed container.


In the case of full container load (FCL), the shipper is responsible for verifying the gross mass of the packed container.


Two methods are permissible to determine the VGM of a container:


Method 1) requires weighing the container after it has been packed.


Method 2) requires weighing all the cargo and contents of the container including packaging and dunnage and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door of the container.


NOTE: Estimating weight is not permitted.


As mentioned, the responsibility of VGM determination and submission always lies with the shipper. However, Panalpina offers a box weighing service in countries where we have access to certified weighing equipment. For more information, please contact your local Panalpina office.


How to submit VGM data


As the shipper, you have three possibilities to submit your container VGM data to Panalpina:


1) The easiest, safest and most cost-effective way is to use our VGM Portal.

2) Alternatively, you can fill in our interactive PDF to submit the data.

3) You may also submit VGM data using your own form which must clearly identify a verified gross mass.


Panalpina will be relying on the VGM data submitted by the shipper (or a third-party service provider) when transferring the data to the carrier.