All exporters, importers, freight forwarders and carriers must adhere to the global regulation requiring every packed container to have a verified container weight prior to loading on a vessel. The international treaty mandated by SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and published by the World Shipping Council applies to all container shipments wherever loaded went into effect July 1st, 2016. Overweight containers contributed to the MSC Napoli break up and subsequent beaching off the UK Coast in 2007, along with other vessel accidents. “The regulations place a requirement on the shipper of a packed container, regardless of who packed the container, to provide the container’s gross verified weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative sufficiently in advance of vessel loading to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan,” the World Shipping Council explained.

Steamship lines and terminal operators are prohibited from loading a packed container on a vessel if the container does not have the verified weight. Carriers have revised freight flow and documentation software, and all countries with active ports have devised their own requirements. While it is an international treaty, there are not global enforcement requirements and every country may come up with different regulations. Some ports and terminals have enough scales to accommodate weighing each container at ingate, but others do not. Ultimately, the shipper is the listed responsible party, and the shipper can also be the freight forwarder/NVOCC.