What is the governing legislation/convention?
The Legislation is being enacted via amendments to Chapter VI Regulation 2 of the SOLAS Convention.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime safety treaty from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the maritime arm of the United Nations. It was implemented into Hong law by the Merchant Shipping (Safety) Ordinance Cap. 369AV. It regulates safety of life at sea, which includes any ocean-going vessels.
The amendments came into effect from 01 July 2016. The initial three-month grace period expired on 30 September 2016.
What are the main requirements?
Shippers must provide to the master and the terminal the verified gross mass (“VGM”) of packed container in documentary format. The VGM must be communicated in a signed document in advance of loading.
There are two prescribed methods for ascertaining the VGM of a container. Under Method 1 the packed container is weighed by using authorised weighing scales. For Method 2, all packages and cargo items, the tare mass of the container, pallets, packaging, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container is weighed separately using a certified method and then added together.
The weighing scales used for Method 1 must be authorised and listed under the Marine Department of Hong Kong (“MARDEP”) website. All shippers using Method 2 must be registered with MARDEP.
Hong Kong will allow a +/- 5% deviation in VGM.
MARDEP has issued helpful guidelines for the verification of container gross mass in Hong Kong.
What are the exceptions?
Effectively, there are none.
The provision of the VGM is a pre-requisite to loading. Where a container is presented without a valid VGM the container cannot be laded unless the master or the terminal obtains the VGM on the shippers behalf.
Packed containers for which a verified weight was provided in a preceding load port may be loaded in trans-shipment ports without having the weights re-verified if the port terminal in the trans-shipment port has been advised of this by the operator of the arriving vessel.
What are the sanctions?
MARDEP is the authority that will regulate container mass verification in Hong Kong. Presently, anyone in breach of the relevant requirements as stipulated above commits an offence and is liable to a fine of HK$20,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years.
Should you have any questions on any other aspect of the container weight verification n requirements then please do not hesitate to contact any member of our team.