An EU regulation obliging shippers to declare the weight of goods in containers and swap bodies transported by trucks across Europe comes into force next month.
The new law is modeled on the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) amendment, which took effect on July 1, 2016 and required the verified gross mass (VGM) of a container before it can be loaded onto a vessel.
From May 7, EU member states must enact laws mandating shippers give truckers a statement indicating the weight of the container/swap body being transported, while the trucker must provide access to all relevant documentation submitted by the customer.
Member states must also lay down rules on the liability of the shipper and the trucker in cases where the information is missing or incorrect and the vehicle is overloaded.
The purpose of the amendment is to provide trucking companies with the assurance that the weight of containers or swap bodies when loaded onto the vehicle does not cause its gross mass weight to exceed the maximum legally permissible weight.
“In practice, the shipper is free to decide what format the statement of weight should take,” according to Peregrine Storrs-Fox, risk management director of the TT Club, a London-based insurance and risk management provider for the transport and logistics sectors.
“Therefore, operationally, there should be no new standard form or document or additional process to be introduced. It is understood that existing business and contractual information will be deemed sufficient provided that it includes the weight of the load.”
However, “differing national practices are, as with VGM, likely to emerge, which is less than helpful to industry stakeholders.”
The VGM requirement was widely feared to cause containerized supply chain disruption but ended up have minimal impact. Concern around how much the rule is in enforced, mainly in African, Asian, and South American countries, remains.
The TT Club says it has so far proven “impossible “to gather definitive information around the globe of the implementation of the SOLAS amendment.
“Anecdotes abound — and do not immediately provide comfort in relation to material compliance,” said Storrs-Fox.
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