OOG and/or Over-weight

Out of Gauge

Out of Gauge (OOG) loads are loads with dimensions exceeding the six-sided container (box-shaped) interior dimensions. All shipping companies charge an OOG surcharge to compensate for the slots lost on the board of the vessels. After all, wherever goods protrude, no other containers can be loaded beside and/or above the OOG unit. Special containers such as Open Top, Flat Rack, or Platform are used for loading such cargo loads.


All containers being loaded on ships and circulated between ports to be used in international trade must have a valid safety approval plate called CSC (Container Safety Convention) plate in order. This is according to the provisions of the International Convention on Safe Containers (1972). The purpose of this CSC plate is to confirm that the container has been inspected and found to be in a condition suitable for transportation on board the ship.

The CSC plate contains details like the Owners’ name, Technical Data, and ACEP information. ACEP means the Approved Continuous Examination Program. Every 30 months a container must be turned into a Container Depot for examination by the authorized inspectors. This CSC plate also shows the maximum operating gross mass (weight) as can be seen in the picture:

Using the above plate as an example, a container that has been loaded more than the allowed weight – in this case, 30,480 Kgs including the tare weight of the container- will be considered as OVER-WEIGHT.

Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that the packing warehouse/depot check this CSC plate upon the arrival of the container and make sure that they do not exceed the Maximum Gross Weight mentioned on the CSC plate.

Most container shipping lines have containers that have different weight capacities because not all cargoes are heavy. Therefore, if the shipper is aware that his cargo is going to be heavy – say Stone Blocks, Minerals, Steel Coils, or such similar types, they should request the shipping line to release such “heavy tested” or “high payload” containers to accommodate such cargoes.

Shipping lines have the right to either charge the client for any over-weight container and also for any misdeclaration of weights, or even shut out and omit the container from the loading list, as misdeclaration of container weights is a serious issue affecting the ship safety and the trade.

It is the joint responsibility of the shipper, the packing warehouse, the transporter, and the shipping line to ensure that the weight of the container does not exceed the maximum allowed limits in the interest of everyone’s safety.

Verified Gross Mass (VGM)

All shippers are obliged to verify the exact gross mass of the containers containing their export cargo. They can choose either of two permissible weighing methods before the carrying containers can be loaded on a vessel.

What is the Verified Gross Mass (VGM)?

According to the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) amendment covering container weighing regulations, Effective from July 1st, 2016, a packed shipping container will no longer be allowed to be loaded on board a vessel unless its Verified Gross Mass (VGM) has been provided by the shipper to the ocean carriers and/or port terminal representatives, prior to the load list cut-off date.

This new regulation was adopted by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) to increase maritime safety and reduce the risks and danger to cargo, containers, and all those involved in container transport throughout the supply chain.

How To Calculate Verified Gross Mass?

The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the weight of the cargo including bracing and dunnage plus the tare weight of the container carrying that cargo. SOLAS requires all shippers to provide VGM in a “shipping document”, either as an annex to the shipping order or in a separate communication, before vessel loading.

Two Methods of verifying gross mass

The shipper is responsible to verify the gross mass of the containers carrying their cargo by either of two permissible weighing methods before the containers can be loaded on a vessel.

Method A

Weighing the container after it has been packed.

Method B

Weighing all the cargo and contents of the container, separately, and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container (on CSC Plate).

This method is not practical for shippers of bulk commodities such as grain, scraps, etc., and the local authorities in each port should decide to grant permission for using the method, or not.

How VGM will impact you

Impact on the shipper

With the new regulation, the shipper will be the responsible party for providing the verified gross mass of every container to the ocean carrier and the terminal representative before vessel loading. But who is considered as the shipper in the context of this new regulation? The shipper is the legal entity;

  • Named on the ocean bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document as a shipper.

  • With whom (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company.

Therefore, irrespective if delegation to a 3rd party or similar, the shipper will always be the responsible party for providing VGM information so they should be aware of the impact of this new procedure;

  • The shipper will need to provide VGM information of their containers along with shipping orders, no matter whether they send this documentation manually via e-mail or via EDI.

  • The shipper will need to plan for VGM in the shipment cycle.

  • Shippers need to establish a process between supply chain members (forwarders, truckers, terminals, and shipping line or its agents), integrating weighing service.

  • Shippers need to calculate the potential cost impact for arranging this service as they are legally responsible to obtain and provide VGM.

  • They need to be aware of possible local legislation regarding government-imposed penalties/fines.

  • If a shipper does not comply and provides the VGM information in time, the carrier and the terminal representative have the right not to load the containers on the vessel.

  • FARMAD regularly checks and monitors the impact of VGM regulations issued by governments to make sure our customers can easily submit VGM 

Impact on the vendor (terminal operators)

The IMO regulation clearly requires that no container should be loaded on a vessel unless a VGM is provided- with no exceptions. It is, therefore, the terminal operator’s obligation that a VGM exists before adding containers to the final stowage plan. FARMAD makes sure that the final load list only includes containers with a VGM.

Local and national legislation will dictate the consequences of loading a container without a VGM, and terminal operators naturally need to be aware of this.

Terminal operators receive the VGM information either directly from the shipper or from the ocean carrier and will need to have EDI or other processes in place to receive and process this information. If the VGM is obtained by weighing at the terminal operator’s premises, the terminal operator needs a process to send this VGM information back to the carrier. FARMAD constantly coordinates with all terminal operators in its service loop to ensure that such a process is in place.

In rare cases, terminals may weigh a packed container for which a VGM has already been submitted. Where different, the VGM arrived at by the terminal will be used.

Other involved vendors that are not part of the SOLAS Amendment – providing services such as a barge, rail, depot, trucking, etc. at origin – may be included in the delivery of information relevant for the SOLAS Amendment where this is practical.

If the shipper does not share the VGM information in time, then the containers will not be loaded on board the vessel – with no exception.