Learning the Ropes: SOLAS’ Country-by-Country Variances

Different Countries, Different Rules?

With 162 nations around the globe adopting the new SOLAS rules, the world’s shippers and logistics providers are wondering if each of those nations is using the same approach to VGM. The answer is “no,” according to Andrea Morreira, international logistics manager at Orchard Supply Hardware.

In June, Morreira participated in a panel of ocean shipping analysts for Logistics Management’s Are you prepared for the SOLAS container weight rule?,  webcast. In it, she pointed out differentiations among the countries that have adopted—and that are now using—the new SOLAS rules.

“The new regulations are country- and terminal-based,” said Morreira. Weight tolerances, for example, can vary significantly by country. And, the terminals’ ability to weigh containers also varies greatly according to the specific ports. Where one port in China may have those full capabilities, another may not have them at the port itself and may instead refer the shipper to a third party (at the port of Hong Kong, for instance, the Marine Department is currently “working on a list” of these third-party options).

As an example of the country-by-country technicalities, Morreira highlighted the different approaches that China and Hong Kong are using:

Hong Kong:

  • The shipper shall submit the shipping document with VGM used in the ship stowage plan in advance to the terminal and shipping line by means of electronic data interchange (EDI) or electronic data processing (EDP) transmission, or paper copy
  • VGM through Method One is done by the authorized weighing scales enlisted in the Maritime Department’s website
  • A tolerance of +/-5% between the VGM declared by the shipper and the VGM obtained by the Maritime Department, carrier, or terminal is acceptable


  • Shipping authorities will randomly check whether the shipment provides valid or certified VGM declaration
  • Lists of authorized weighing organizations will be announced for the proper channels
  • Shipping authorities will accept the VGM of a packed container with tolerance of +/-5% or one ton of the total gross weight – whichever is smaller

Morreira’s message to shippers was simple:  Learn the rules of the countries and/or ports that you operate in before shipping any containers. For a complete list of WSC regional implementation information, click here.

Odyssey is Standing By, Ready to Assist

Odyssey is ready to help you comply with the new SOLAS rules. We continue to stay in contact with all stakeholders around the globe including truckers, carriers, government agencies, and terminals to ensure our customers are compliant no matter which country/port they operate in. If you have any specific questions about your supply chain please reach out to your Odyssey representative.