Verified Gross Mass (VGM)
Discrepancy between the declared and actual gross mass of a packed container can lead to incorrect vessel stowage decisions and consequentially major accidents. To ensure the safety of seafarers and shore-side workers, with effect from 1 July 2016, the 171 members States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will start enforcing the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) amendments to require a packed container to have shipper-verified weight as a condition for loading onto a ship for export.
What is Verified gross mass (VGM)?
VGM policy requires that the total weight of each packed container must be measured and declared. This total weight not only consists of the weight of all packaging and cargo items, but also the container tare and all additional loading equipment (e.g. lashing material) too.
Definition of VGM
It is important to note that VGM does NOT have the same meaning, and should not be confused with the estimated weight declared in the Booking nor with the cargo weight declared on the Bill of Lading.
What VGM is NOT
Customers may submit VGM data to APL via any of the following channels
- Direct EDI submission
- EDI/Online submission via third party portals
- Online submission via APL eBusiness
- Submission via email
Shippers can also submit VGM via pre-existing EDIFACT IFTMIN or ANSI ASC X12 304 message types either separately or along with shipping instructions (SI).
Additionally, APL also allows shippers to submit standalone VGM data using VERMAS, a new EDIFACT message type.
If you are subscribed to third-party portals like INTTRA and/or GT Nexus, you may rely on one of these platforms to submit your VGM data to APL electronically. APL will receive VGM data from such providers via EDI.
APL eBusiness will control and verify the data entered to limit the risk of rejections. It verifies the declared weights are compatible with the tare weight and allowed weight. The process also verifies the match between the booking number and containers.
Keeping the same philosophy of the Online Business Center, we offer several tips to improve your team productivity:
- Mass VGM entry mode via an Excel file upload or individual entry mode via an online form.
- Pre-fill forms for shippers with booking / BL numbers, associated container numbers and tare.
- Easy access and cross navigation from eBusiness Booking / Shipment Dashboards for proceeding with VGM submissions.
Where VGM submission via EDI or portals is not possible, APL does accept submission via an email attachment based on APL’s standard Microsoft Excel template.
All VGM submissions in this format are to be sent as an attachment via email to MailVGM@APL.com under the following Subject format:
‘Booking No.’ here refers to the cargo’s booking number with APL, and ‘2-Letter Country Code’ refers to the country of original loading (refer to ISO convention for the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code list).
For example, an eligible subject would be ‘VGM_APLU123456789_CN’, in which the VGM data belongs to a cargo with the APL booking number APLU123456789, to be loaded at a port of origin in China.
As the VGM data submitted via this method is going to be read automatically by our system, it is important that your data and subject format strictly follow the above instructions in order not to put your cargo at risk of missing its shipment.
What information is needed during VGM submission?
Below are the fields to be filled during submission via any of the above method:
- Booking / Bill of Lading (BL) No. (Mandatory)
- Container No. (Mandatory)
- Verified Gross Mass (VGM) (Mandatory)
- Unit of Measurement (KG or LB) (Mandatory)
- Authorised Person’s Signatory (in CAPITAL) (Mandatory)
- Responsible Party Name (Optional)
- Date of Declaration (Optional)
- Method of Weighing (1 or 2) (Mandatory)
- Weighing Party Name (Optional)
- Any additional mandatory/optional information as requested by local authorities (e.g. for UK, Weighing Party Certification No.)
It is worth noting that APL only requires the VGM information as stated above, not actual VGM supporting documents.