New SOLAS requirements for shippers – AEO is of benefit

The SOLAS international treaty was established to ensure safety for merchant ships around the world. Although originally specified for construction, the convention includes goods and services carried on ships to different countries.In November 2014, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amended the SOLAS convention by stating mandatory rules for the rigorous weighing of all containers that will be placed on a ship; all ‘shippers’ will have to have their weights verified in advance. This change comes into force on the 1st July 2016 but national organisations are calling for backing to make urgent changes as the new convention could lead to issues in the supply chain, costing shippers and businesses receiving these containers money.

synergLevel playing field

Changes could see competition not levelled out across the board as many Member States have varying rules and regulations. These differences should be taken into account with supply chains and national authorities working together to create guidelines that not only reduce the risk of one member being alienated but also to allow the SOLAS laws to be implemented seamlessly across the board. There are two main focus’ that are being put forward; shippers with approval to issue VGM certificates should be have a level of tolerance when it comes to weighing equipment and method 2 should be based on common standards and programmes such as AEO or ISO 28000.

Certification of Weighing Equipment and Methods

Currently, the implementing state is responsible for the accuracy of the weighing equipment, which will throw up discrepancies at some point. Being aware of excessive weight requirements could alleviate the logistics chain with some States currently defining their own weight requirements. Both method 1 (weighing) and 2 (calculating) could lead to delays in authorisation before the SOLAS changes come into play due to the many differences in each country. Countries such as Europe should and surrounding needs to come together to align their standards, making the process run smoother before and after the changes.

AEO and VGM Certificates

These two things should have some standing when it comes to the new SOLAS laws. AEO (Authorised Economic Operators) allows access to your goods faster if you are going across borders – it is an internationally recognised mark of quality, which proves to any customs that your chain is secure. VGM (verified gross mass) certificate is determined from method 1 or method 2 and should always be communicated up the chain. Failure to have confirmation of the VGM means the container could be rejected at port. Everyone relies on the VGM being achieved by the original shipper, but issues could be made simpler if shippers with AEO were able to issue the VGM certificates themselves. The process to gain AEO status is not an easy one and requires much knowledge of how to correctly ship goods overseas, so these shippers should be trusted to supply VGM certificates also. This would make the system quicker and ultimately, a smoother supply and logistics chain with less hold ups.

All at sea with AEO? We can help

At Synergos Consultancy, we understand the changes taking place with SOLAS and work in partnership with our clients so they are ahead of the game at all stages. We help companies to gain certification such as AEO, ISO and even compliance services, as we know these issues can push a business forward, opening up more business links. Contact us today on 01484 817 444 or email to see how we can help you.


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