Relaxed Enforcement Announced for SOLAS

June 2, 2016

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently announced it has relaxed its stance on the enforcement of new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations due to take effect on July 1st that make container weighing mandatory, instructing regulators to take “a practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing the new regulations for a period of three months immediately following July 1st. The practical impact of this policy change is a 3-month grace period for enforcement of the verified gross mass (VGM) Requirement.

It’s important to note that the effective date of the new safety regulation will take effect on July 1st, it is only enforcement of the VGM requirement that is delayed. Initially, the new SOLAS regulation required shippers (and forwarders when they are named as the shipper on the bill of lading) to verify and provide their container’s VGM to the ocean carrier and port terminal prior to it being loaded onto a ship. The new VGM regulation generated confusion among the trade and many forwarders, shipping lines and exporters were unprepared for the new rules, prompting fears of ocean supply chain disruption and port congestion.

The recently announced 3-month grace period for enforcement was applauded by the trade. It will give additional time to obtain further clarification from the IMO and U.S. Coast Guard, which will enforce the new VGM requirements most likely on or about October 1st.

For more information on SOLAS, please click here.