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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the certificate valid?

5 years.

What happens if anything changes on the Shippers side, for example we change our weighing and/or packing site or our scale verification certificate is renewed or we start packing new products?

We will advise our clients of any changes in the SAMSA mandate, and similarly we will advise SAMSA of any relevant changes in our clients’ operations. It is the Shipper’s responsibility to let us know if anything changes.

Who is the “responsible person” for the shipper?

The SOLAS regulations require the shipper to verify the gross mass of the packed container using Method No. 1 or Method No. 2 and to communicate the verified gross mass in a shipping document. This document can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication. In either case, the document should clearly highlight that the gross mass provided is the “verified gross mass”. Irrespective of its form, the document declaring the verified gross mass of the packed container should be signed by the person duly authorized by the shipper. The signature may be an electronic signature or may be replaced by the full name in capitals of the person authorised to sign it. This person will also be the point of contact for any marine body worldwide should anything happen to a container.

What does Gross Mass mean?

Gross mass means the combined mass of a container’s tare mass and the masses of all packages and cargo items, including pallets, dunnage and other packing material and securing materials packed into the container (see also “Verified gross mass”).

What happens when we fail the certification?

Nobody has to fail. Providing you have the correct weighing equipment and follow our guidance in terms of record keeping, accuracy and operational procedure, you will be certified.

What is the SOLAS Convention?

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime safety treaty. It ensures that ships flagged by signatory States comply with minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation. The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. Administration on National Level: SOLAS is part of the IMO (International Maritime Organization, a United Nations Agency). All states (countries) which are members of the IMO have to adopt these VGM rules either in their original form or with additional requirements in accordance with local/national laws or rules.

What does it mean to provide a Verified Gross Mass(VGM)?

The VGW is the Verified Gross Cargo weight (including weight of all packing material) plus Container Tare weight.  Verified gross mass means the total gross mass of a packed container as obtained by Method No. 1 or Method No. 2.

Who is responsible to provide the VGM?

The Shipper is responsible to provide the VGW.

Who Is the Shipper?

MSC 1 / Circ 1475: “Shipper” means a legal entity or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document as shipper and/or who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company. Carriage of Cargo Regulations, 2004 “shipper” means any person who, whether as principal or as agent for another, consigns goods for carriage by sea.

What was the date of implementation?

1 July 2016.

When is VGM (Verified Gross Mass) required?

VGW is required prior to shipment. Cargo will not be loaded onto a vessel unless a certified VGW is provided.

Why is VGM (Verified Gross Mass) required?

This is a Global IMO SOLAS mandatory regulatory requirement. VGW is used for vessel planning and safe stowage.

What happens if VGM (Verified Gross Mass) cannot be provided?

Cargo will not be loaded.

What about containers being shipped through SA ports from neighbouring Southern African countries?

The requirement to VGM of a container has been communicated to Dept of Intl Relations & Cooperation (DIRCO) to communicate to neighboring southern African countries. SAMSA would also expect that shipping lines inform their customers of this requirement

Why don’t Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) weigh the containers?

It is the responsibility of the shipper to verify the gross mass of the container, not TPT.

What about non-conforming containers?

SAMSA will investigate where necessary – this may result in penalty.

SAMSA are not responsible for managing non-conforming containers that arrive in the terminal. This is to be resolved by the shipper, transporter and terminal operator – this is a commercial issue.

Does SAMSA verify/approve weighbridges? How does my weighbridge become approved/accredited with SAMSA?

SAMSA does not approve/accredit weighbridges or any weighing equipment. Weighing equipment must comply to requirements of the Legal Metrology Act 2014 governed by NRCS.

How accurate must the VGM of the container be?

SOLAS does not provide for a margin of error. The VGM shall be obtained under both Method 1 and Method 2 by using weighing equipment that meets the applicable accuracy standards and requirements in the State in which the equipment is being used i.e. the Legal Metrology Act, 2014.

What does Calibrated and Certified equipment mean?

Calibrated and certified equipment means a scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment or any other device, capable of determining the actual gross mass of a packed container or of packages and cargo items, pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material that meets the accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used.

What does Cargo items mean?

Cargo items has the same general meaning as the term “cargo” in the International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972, as amended (hereinafter referred to as “the CSC”), and means any goods, wares, merchandise, liquids, gases, solids and articles of every kind whatsoever carried in containers pursuant to a contract of carriage. However, ship’s equipment and ship’s supplies, including ship’s spare parts and stores, carried in containers are not regarded as cargo.

What does container mean?

Container has the same meaning as the term “container” in the CSC and means an article of transport equipment:

  • of a permanent character and accordingly strong enough to be suitable for repeated use;
  • (specially designed to facilitate the transport of goods, by one or more modes of transport, ?without intermediate reloading;
  • designed to be secured and/or readily handled, having corner fittings for these purposes; and
  • of a size such that the area enclosed by the four outer bottom corners is either:
  • at least 14 m2 (150 sq. ft.); or
  • at least 7 m2 (75 sq. ft.) if it is fitted with top corner fittings.

What does Contract of carriage mean?

Contract of carriage means a contract in which a shipping company, against the payment of freight, undertakes to carry goods from one place to another. The contract may take the form of, or be evidenced by a document such as sea waybill, a bill of lading, or multi-modal transport document.

What does packing material mean?

Packing material means any material used or for use with packages and cargo items to prevent damage, including, but not limited to, crates, packing blocks, drums, cases, boxes, barrels, and skids. Excluded from the definition is any material within individual sealed packages to protect the cargo item(s) inside the package.

What does securing material mean?

Securing material means all dunnage, lashing and other equipment used to block, brace, and secure packed cargo items in a container.

What does ship mean?

Ship means any vessel to which SOLAS chapter VI applies. Excluded from this definition are roll- on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships engaged on short international voyages where the containers are carried on a chassis or trailer and are loaded and unloaded by being driven on and off such a ship.

What is a shipping document?

Shipping document means a document used by the shipper to communicate the verified gross mass of the packed container. This document can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication (e.g. a declaration including a weight certificate produced by a weigh station).

What is the Tare mass?

Tare mass means the mass of an empty container that does not contain any packages, cargo items, pallets, dunnage, or any other packing material or securing material.