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Requirement to provide Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for Containers Carrying Cargo
(Amendment to SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 2)
Marine Industrial Safety
Marine Industrial Safety

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Notice to SHIPPERS (Cargo Owners)

"Weight" is named as "mass" in relevant Hong Kong legislation


The "Merchant Shipping (Safety) (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulation", Cap. 369AV, has been revised and retitled to "Merchant Shipping (Safety) (Carriage of Cargoes and Oil Fuels) Regulation" (hereunder called "the Regulation"). The Regulation entered into force on 01.07.2016. The Regulation, incorporated the amendment to SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 2, stipulates the requirement of specified person (means "shipper" in brief) to verify and declare the verified gross mass (VGM) of packed containers set for shipping overseas.

"specified person" in Section 3A of Cap. 369AV has the meaning of a person-
  1. who is named in a bill of lading, sea waybill or an equivalent multimodal transport document as the shipper of the cargo; and
  2. who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) has concluded a contract of carriage with a shipping company in respect of the cargo.
In Section 3A of Cap. 369AV, sub-section (3) stipulates that the gross mass must be verified by one of the following methods-
  1. by weighing the packed container as a whole using an equipment that is acceptable to (i) the competent authority of the place at which the packing of the container was completed; or (ii) the Director;
  2. by adding-
    1. the tare mass of the container; and
    2. the mass of all the cargoes and packages (including the mass of pallets, dunnage, other packing materials and securing materials) to be packed into the container, that is obtained by weighing the content of the container by using a method approved by-
      1. the competent authority of the place at which the packing of the container was completed; or
      2. the Director.
Above requirement does not apply to a container that-
  1. is carried on a chassis or trailer; and
  2. is driven on a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages.
In Section 3A of Cap. 369AV, sub-section (4) stipulates that master of ship and terminal operator must not load container on the ship if the master or the terminal operator does not have the gross mass of the container verified by above-mentioned methods.

Additional Requirement

Pursuant to Section 112A of the Merchant Shipping (Safety) Ordinance, Cap. 369, the Director of Marine notified the issuance and effect of the “Guidelines on the Verification of Gross Mass of a Container with Cargo Packed in Hong Kong” (hereunder called “the Guideline”) on 8 July 2016 via Government Notice G.N. 3836. The Guideline is issued under Section 3A sub-section (7) of Cap. 369AV providing guidance in respect of the safety management of containers carrying cargo. The Guideline can be downloaded at here.

Requirements in Brief

For any packed container to be shipped overseas, shipper (specified person) shall
  1. verify the gross mass of packed containers by either of following methods:

    1. Method 1:Weighing of packed container after sealed.

    2. - Weighing has to be done by weighing equipment approved by Director of Marine. A weighing report (a record) will be provided by weighing equipment operator after weighing. Sample of weighing report is available at here.
      - List of approved weighing equipment can be found at here.
      - To apply for approval of weighing equipment to use in verification of container gross mass, please click here for the application procedure.
      - Shipper adopting this method does not require any registration.

    3. Method 2:Adding the tare mass of container and the mass of all items (including cargo, packing material, securing material, etc.) inside packed container.

    4. - The procedure to apply the method requires the approval of Marine Department which is done through a one-time, free of charge registration process.
      - Under following condition, shipper is required to register with Marine Department:
      a. Shipper is a legal entity in Hong Kong.
      b. The container is sealed in Hong Kong. (Shipper can be a business entity registered outside Hong Kong.)

      Registration of Method 2 users-
      - Documents submitted for registration:

      1. Completed application form (which can be downloaded at here),
      2. Copy of business registration certificate (or equivalent document), and
      3. Procedure of application of Method 2 (or procedure of container mass verification by calculation). (Sample of the procedure can be found at here)

      - Approval letter consisting registration number will be emailed to successful applicants.
      - Name and registration number of registered shipper can be searched via our search mechanism at here.
      - Shipper should keep record of VGM calculation for inspection when requested.
      - Update of registration information can be emailed to
      - A guidance of using Method 2 is available at here.

  2. declare the verified gross mass of packed container to carrier via shipping document.
  3. Declaration of VGM

    • Shipper must provide the information to carrier and terminal in advance for stowage planning.
    • Declaration can be an independent document (e.g. container mass declaration) or a part of the shipping instruction tendered to carrier. It can be submitted via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Electronic Data Processing (EDP) or other electronic means including website input.
    • A sample of an independent declaration document (container mass declaration) can be found at here.
    • No submission of declaration document to Marine Department is required.

    Tolerance of VGM deviation

    VGM ≤ 10 MT, acceptable tolerance: +/- 0.5 MT
    VGM > 10 MT, acceptable tolerance: +/- 5%

    Maximum Operating Gross Mass

    The gross mass of packed container must not exceed the maximum operating gross mass stamped on the container’s safety approval plate.

  4. keep relevant records for 1 year. Record can be kept electronically.

    Record includes:

    1. Weighing report (Method 1)
    2. VGM calculation sheet (Method 2) (samples available at here)
    3. Declaration document/record (e.g. Container Mass Declaration)

Presentation Slides of Introduction Seminars

The slides presented in the introduction seminars before 01.07.2016 can be downloaded at here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here to view the Frequently Asked Questions.


For enquiries, please contact the Marine Industrial Safety Section at telephone number 2852 4473 / 2852 4477 or email Relevant information or details concerning the Regulation or Ordinance can also be downloaded here.