According to latest statistics over 135 million containers each year are estimated to enter the global supply chain, and a significant proportion of these have inaccurate weigh estimates. Inaccurate weights are often the cause, or contributory factor to numerous serious accidents, some unfortunately fatal, in the global supply chain.
Therefore the IMO has enhanced a SOLAS convention and requires a verification of the gross weight of packed containers by the shipper with effect of July 1st 2016.

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. 

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was formed to fulfill a desire to bring the regulation of the safety of shipping into an international framework. IMO is the source of approximately 60 legal instruments that guide the regulatory development of its member states to improve safety at sea, facilitate trade among seafaring states and protect the maritime environment. 

As of March 2016,  SOLAS 1974 has 162 contracting States, which flag about 99% of merchant ships around the world in terms of gross tonnage. UN member states that are not members of IMO are generally landlocked countries, including:
Afghanistan, Andorra, Armenia, Belarus, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Mali, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niger, Rwanda, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Benefits for the Shipper: Reduced risk of the cargo / container on the vessel.
Benefits for the Carrier and Terminal: Proper and optimal stowage leads to more safety for crew and vessel. Time savings by reduced re-stow and avoidance of last minute cancellations.

As of 1st July 2016, the SOLAS regulation becomes effective. That means, all containers loaded on a vessel with a departure date on or after 1st July, need to have a VGM.

Obtain the VGM

The IMO allows two ways to properly determine the VGM:

  • Method 1: Weighing of the packed and sealed container
  • Method 2: Weighing of all packages and cargo items, before loading in the container including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and adding the tare weight of the container to the sum of the single masses using a certified method.

The tare is marked on the containers door at time of manufacture as per ISO standard. You can also view the tare from our catalogues through different channels. Although we strive to have the information correctly available. In case there is a discrepancy please use the tare weight marked on the container door. Kindly note that only the weight shown at the container door is legally binding. We would appreciate if you can inform us about any discrepancy if possible by attaching a picture. 

No. This is legally not possible, as according to the SOLAS Regulation the responsibility for obtaining and documenting the VGM of a packed container lies with the shipper. 

No. Hapag-Lloyd as a carrier is not responsible to weigh the container. This is the sole responsibility of the shipper. 


SOLAS recommended to use electronic interchange channels to submit the VGM for an easy, safe and quick processing.
The VGM can be send via webVGM, via VGM Excel, via bilateral EDI connections or via the existing Portals. Manual input must be avoided due to potential delays as a high risk of errors. Manual transmission will be charged by a manual transmission fee. For further information please contact your local office.

Hapag-Lloyd developed VGM submission tools, which guarantees an easy submission and quick processing without delays or risks.
With full or light registration, the customer has access to our online business tools webVGM and our unique VGM Excel solution.

To avoid delays and errors within the VGM transmission, the VGM submission must be done by electronically means. For any manual transmission a Manual Submission Fee will apply. For further information, please contact your local office. 

The Shipper or its representative has to submit the Hapag-Lloyd Shipment number or MTD Number, the Container number, the Verified Gross Mass, the measuring unit, name of responsible party (B/L/MTD) as well as the signature of the person authorized to sign on behalf of the shipper. The signature may be an electronic signature or may be replaced by the name in capitals of the person authorized to sign. In case of an unknown Shippers Own Container, the container ISO size type needs to be submitted, as well.
Each government may decide on additional requirements. Such details need to be submitted and documented as well.

VGM at Hapag-Lloyd

By nature a "VGM" cannot be "estimated". At booking time a "weight estimation" can be provided, same as today as soon as the container is packed and sealed the shipper should transmit the "verified gross mass" of the unit to Hapag-Lloyd. 

If you submit a VGM for an unknown shippers own container, you have to insert the container size type. An overview is available on the Hapag-Lloyd webpage. Besides, the container ISO size type is written on the container.

VGM Cut-Off

The VGM Cut-Off is determined locally, to offer high flexibility and safer operations.

The VGM Cut-Off is shown in the Booking Confirmation and can be found in the web schedule.

VGM Processing

Regulatory bodies might do random checks and impose fines in case of violation. This is handled on a national level and will be executed by the responsible authority.

No, Hapag-Lloyd will not weigh or check the correctness of the VGM provided for the container. Hapag-Lloyd will only check, if the VGM is above maximum container payload and not below the tare weight of empty container.

If the weight has not been verified in time before the VGM cut-off (which may vary from port to port), the container cannot be shipped.

We have developed several types of reminder emails, so you will not forget to send your VGM in time. Please check with your local office, which kind of reminder you would prefer or which should be switched on/off.


If the VGM is received by the Shipper and inserted in our System, it will be transmitted directly to the Terminal.

Terminals, which requires the VGM prior to gate in, will be shown on the booking confirmation with an additional remark below the terminal address.

The VGM must be send before the gate in.  Therefore, you should obtain the VGM right after packing and sealing the container and send it immediately via an e-channel to Hapag-Lloyd. We will forward it without loss of time to the terminal, which than will accept your container.

The latest VGM received before VGM cut-off will be used for stowage planning. So if the terminal sends at a later stage a new VGM, we will use this. At the time being, there are no fines from Hapag-Lloyd.

Further Questions

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) published a circular recommending the national authorities to implement a three month grace period for transshipment containers loaded before 1st July. This circular is not legally binding for the SOLAS Member States. To be on the safe side, the shipper should have a VGM even for such containers to be transshipped after July 1st in place.

No. The new SOLAS Regulation will become effective on 1st July 2016, without any delay. The Circular issued by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) is mainly meant as a statement to government enforcement and to container in transit. It has not the intention to postpone the introduction of the VGM requirement for initial loads on 1st July or later.

Tank containers fully loaded or at least with significant amount of residues also require a VGM.

Basically no but according to paragraph 12.1  of the MSC.1/Circ.1475 (9 June 2014) “Shippers of empty containers and operators of empty containers are encouraged to have practices and arrangements in place to ensure that they are empty. The tare weight will visually appear on the container in accordance with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard for container marking and identification 5) and should be used.”

No, break bulk is exempt from VGM requirement.

No. There are no changes or exceptions for carriers haulage transports. The liability remains at the shipper, who still has to obtain the VGM.

VGM and the Bill of Lading

No. The VGM is declared separately from the gross cargo weight shown in the Bill of Lading.

The VGM is an operational weight whereas the MTD weight has documentary functions. The VGM will differ in every case from the MTD weight, as the VGM includes the tare weight of the container and the MTD does not.

VGM within the manual Shipping Instructions (SI) should be urgently avoided, as it might be overlooked. In addition, there might be delays due to the BL processing.

The BL process remains the same, as the VGM as an operational weight has nothing to do with the BL. However, if you decide to send the VGM within the SI (via Portals or EDI connection), you have to stick to the VGM Cut-Off and the Doc cut-off time.

Further Material

Yes. You can find more information using below links:

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