Verification of the Gross Mass of Packed Containers by Sea. 

MGN 534 issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) sets out the legal position as a result to the amendments to SOLAS VI which take effect from 1.7.16.


To ensure the safety of the ship, the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore, the safety of cargo and overall safety at sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as amended, requires in chapter VI, part A, regulation 2 that packed containers’ gross mass are verified prior to stowage aboard ship. The shipper is responsible for the verification of the gross mass of a container carrying cargo. The shipper is also responsible for ensuring that the verified gross mass is communicated in the shipping documents sufficiently in advance to be used by the ship’s master or his representative and the terminal representative in the preparation of the ship stowage plan.

In the absence of the shipper providing the verified gross mass of the packed container, the container should not be loaded on to the ship to which the SOLAS regulations apply unless the master or his representative and the terminal representative have been provided with, in advance of vessel loading, the verified actual gross mass of the container or obtained the verified gross mass through other means.

The responsibility for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of a packed container lies with the shipper.

The shipper is defined as:

A legal entity or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document (e.g. “through” bill of lading) as shipper and/or who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company. The shipper may also be known as the sender.

Action Required

Exporters of full container loads need to familiarise themselves with the requirements of MGN534 as soon as possible and if they intend to use Method 2, they must register their intent with the MCA as set out in Annex 2 of MGN534.

Methods for obtaining the verified gross mass of a packed container The SOLAS regulations prescribe two methods by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container – “Method 1” and “Method 2”

Method 1:

Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment (e.g. weighbridges, load cell sensing technologies etc.). (See annex 3 of MGN534)

Method 2:

Weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the UK competent authority, that is the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) or its authorised body.

For more information please contact Stephanie Warrington at or 01254 356473