Carriers Release Best Practices for the New SOLAS VGM Rules

From the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (

As we previously advised, the so-called Verified Gross Mass (VGM) rules that were issued by the IMO are set to go into effect on July 1. As we also advised, the U.S. Coast Guard has indicated that it will not enforce the rules against U.S. exporters or NVOCCs so there is no reason for those companies to change their operating procedures. However, based on a number of releases we have seen, it appears that the carriers and marine terminal operators may be enforcing these VGM rules.

The NCBFAA just received information from the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) that provides some additional information concerning recommended best practices for the acceptance and transmission of the VGM rules. While there is nothing particularly new about what OCEMA indicates to be the shipper’s responsibility, these guidelines have provided some additional information on how and when the VGM is to be transmitted to the carriers. For your reference, here is a copy of the press release, a VGM process map, and the OCEMA best practice release that explains their recommended procedures.

In this best practices memorandum, the carriers are strongly recommending that the VGM be provided in an electronic format and, indeed, indicate that some carriers may only accept the VGM in an electronic form. The release indicates that the carriers will accept these electronic transmissions through EDI, a third-party portal service (such as INTTRA, Nexus, CargoSmart, etc.), or through the carrier’s web portal.

The release notes that those submitting electronic VGMs must do so by noon of the cutoff date; all others need to check with the carrier as to the deadline for getting the VGM to the carrier. The release goes on to provide that if the carrier does not receive the VGM prior to the VGM cutoff time it will not be loaded aboard the vessel and that any costs associated with the failure to timely provide the VGM will likely be assessed against the shipper through some carrier tariff action.

It still remains to be seen whether the VGM rules will in fact go into effect on July 1, but it would be prudent to plan as if that is the case. |

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