The Directorate of Ports and Coasts (DPC) published on 30/05/2015, the Ordinance No.164, which defines the rules for determining the gross mass of loaded containers to be shipped in the Brazilian territory.

The ordinance meets the determinations of the Resolution MSC.380(94) of the International Maritime Organization - IMO, which takes effect as of July 1st, 2016, and alters the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), by laying down the shippers' obligation to verify the containers gross mass or "VGM" prior to the shipment and inform the shipowner.

The SOLAS alteration, according to the IMO, aimed at increasing the safety of navigation, given that overweight containers have been contributing for the occurrence of accidents.

The DPC ordinance applies to all containers to be shipped in the Brazilian territory for export or cabotage, on ships subject to meeting the SOLAS requirements.

Two verification methods of containers gross mass are provided for to be used by the shipper or by a third party hired by the shipper (i) weighting of the container loaded with a certified equipment; (ii) individual weighing of each one of the goods to be stuffed with a certified equipment, increased by the weight of packaging materials and the container tare, in order to obtain the final weight.

The second method cannot be used for cargoes whose method be inappropriate and impracticable for said cargoes, such as grains in bulk, metal shavings, and other bulk cargoes.

The weighing of individual packaging sealed at the origin whose packaging and cargo items mass had been clearly and permanently determined in its surface is not necessary.

The shipper will be responsible for obtaining and informing, sufficiently in advance, the container´s verified gross mass to the shipowner and terminal in relation to the loading of the ship, within the deadlines and forms agreed by the parties, being barred the shipment of the containers object of this ordinance without the verification of their respective gross mass.

The ordinance lays down that the result of the weighting made by the terminals in conformity with the demands and instructions of the Brazilian Federal Revenue will be characterized as verified gross mass, provided that made in conformity with the weighing method 1.

Should there be any difference between the weigh declared by the shipper, and when available, the weigh verified by the terminal, the value to be considered for the purposes of preparing the ship´s loading plan, will be exclusively decided by and under the exclusive responsibility of the shipowner.

The determination of the weight of a loaded container must be made at the origin, being a new weighing of the containers unnecessary in cases of transshipment if the container did not suffer any alterations in its cargo or tampering.

The provisions of the ordinance will be mandatory as of July 1, 2016.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.