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SOLAS and How it May Affect You

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SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea)

SOLAS regulations were originally adopted in 1974 and entered force in 1980. While not a new program, there are new regulations coming into effect 7/1/2016 which importers are not directly responsible for but may be affected by. These new regulations will affect how an exporter/shipper sends a container from a foreign port to the US. That said, if a US based importer chooses to export a container, they will then be liable for taking care of the responsibilities of an exporter. Instead of estimating the weight of a container, SOLAS will prohibit (beginning July 1st) containers from being loaded without the VGM (Verified Gross Mass). The VGM must be notated prior to a shipment being exported.

VGM can be acquired by the following:
1. The shipper may weigh the packed and sealed container using calibrated and certified equipment.
2. The shipper may add the weight of each package stuffed in the container, add the packing and securing material and add the tare weight of the utilized container. The method itself needs to be certified and approved by a national regulatory body.

SOLAS will not only benefit lives at sea (as the acronym implies), it will also help here at home as well. Loaded containers traveling over land, by rail or truck, will have a definitive weight as opposed to an estimated weight. This will help avoid permitting issues, tickets and also keep our railways and highways safer.

Hopefully in the long run the more precise weights of containers will also help fuel efficiency in all forms of transportation so the container can be properly loaded according to its weight. Enhanced fuel efficiency is good for all!




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