Obtaining an accredited VGM in Mexico
Recently you may have heard about VGM, or verified gross mass. VGM is a new regulation in the SOLAS Convention, which is an agreement developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The regulation states that as of July 1st, all manufacturers, shippers, and consolidators must certify the VGM before shipping their goods. If they do not comply with the regulation, shipping companies cannot move the goods and all parties involved in the export process may be subject to fines, delays, and other fees.
The scales are calibrated and verified by Mexico’s SCT
Many questions arise regarding this new regulation. In an attempt to answer them, the SCT (Secretariat of Communications and Transportation) has launched a website. However, each situation is different, and it is important to interpret the information properly.
For example, only two types of entities are approved to measure VGM:
- Terminals with scales that are calibrated and verified to perform weigh-ins
- Weigh stations, which are companies that have calibrated and verified scales to perform weigh-ins and are authorized and accredited by shipping companies to measure the VGM
Certainly, it is essential for the scale to be approved, calibrated and verified to issue the weight certificate that states the shipment’s VGM.
“The responsibility for obtaining and documenting the Verified Gross Mass of a packed container lies with the manufacturer, shipper or consolidator” (SCT).
What methods are used to obtain the VGM?
The VGM is the total sum of the following weights: goods, container, plus materials used for packaging and securing the goods (and possibly lifting materials, depending on the method used to weigh the items).
- If the goods are carried in a truck with a closed, sealed container (for example a FCL), subtract the weight of the truck (including the tractor, trailer and chassis) from the value indicated when weighing the loaded vehicle on a scale or weighbridge.
- If the goods are weighed separately (for example a LCL), add all of the following weights: goods, empty container, plus the materials used for packaging and securing the goods.
- If the goods are weighed using the lifting method, add all of the following weights: goods, container, lifting materials, plus the materials used for packaging and securing the goods.
In other words, the VGM is not simply the cargo weight or the sum of the cargo weight and the container. It includes many more elements that must be taken into consideration.
How are the scales calibrated and verified in Mexico?
Scales must be approved, calibrated, and verified as described below for shipping in Mexico:
Either Mexico’s National Metrology Center (CENAM) or an accredited and approved calibration center issues the calibration report and once it is obtained, then Mexico’s General Directorate of Standards (DGN), which is part of the Secretariat of Economy (SE), will authorize the scales.
The scale must meet the requirements of NOM-010-SCFI-1994 or alternative standards, as applicable, that are approved by the DGN for measuring equipment outside the scope of NOM-010-SCFI-1994. Calibration is performed in a calibration laboratory that is authorized by the Mexican Accreditation Entity (EMA).
The next step is to request verification of the scale from a Verification and Accreditation Unit (UVA) or from Mexico’s Federal Attorney’s Office of Consumer Protection (PROFECO) .The appointment must be scheduled 1 to 4 days in advance, and the actual verification of the scale takes approximately 4 to 5 hours while the equipment is inspected.
What document is received after the weigh-in?
A weight certificate (ticket, sticker, sheet, etc.) is issued by the owner of the verified measurement equipment or the individual in charge of it.
A weight certificate is a document that states the VGM of a packed, closed, and sealed container or of any cargo plus securing materials such as dunnage, wood, packaging, etc. to be placed in the container. This document must also include the following data:
- For a full container (FCL): container identifier, along with weighing equipment identifier, name of person in charge of the weighing equipment, and its verification number.
- For a consolidated container (LCL): when using equipment to measure loose cargo, packages, etc., the minimum requirements are as follows: a description of the goods, the weighing equipment identifier, name of person in charge of the weighing equipment, and its verification number.
Who should you send the weight certificate to?
Send the weight certificate to the following entities in a timely manner:
- The freight forwarder who is managing the shipment.
- The port representative at the destination, who needs to know the VGM of the container before it arrives at the destination port.
This document must be submitted electronically and should reflect both the empty and full weight values of the container.
Overall, it is essential that the container has a weight certificate (or weight ticket, as applicable) with the VGM listed when it is shipped, in order to fulfill the new SOLAS Convention regulation. Without this certificate, your shipment will incur penalties. The cargo will be detained or transferred to a warehouse, and any parties involved will incur additional fees as a result.