The importance of verifying the container weight

Imagine, you are in a hurry to send a shipment from California to the Middle East. The container weighs 38,000 lbs. You know that California has a set weight limit per central axis and a total weight limit of 34,000 lbs., but since you are in a hurry, you decide to send it anyway. Customs officials stop the truck and immediately detect that the weight is not well-distributed.

The container is left on the scale until the weight can be redistributed. In the end, you decide to send another truck with a new container and reload the cargo onto it. You get the cargo distributed, but… you pay a price for rushing: as a reward, you get a fine for being overweight, for opening the container and the consequent change of seal and a mega-bonus of extra charges for delaying, changing trucks, rolling over (you missed the ship), transporting from the yard to port and extra chassis fees. Moral: Don’t underestimate the importance of verifying the container weight.

There are no exceptions to the weight limits, and the previous pack of penalties will be incurred. That is why it is so important to remember that the speed and weight limits of trucks pulling shipping containers vary from state to state, and you should know the different regulations for each of your shipments.

According to insurer estimates, aprox. 20 percent of all shipping containers are overweight . And that means that the potential for an accident increases. And if something unexpected happens, you’ll have to pay the price. Overweight trucks take a toll on U.S. highways, costing millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to repair. So, please, always verify the container weight. Sounds pretty obvious, but when cargo has been packed in origin, things can get pretty challenging.

Every container needs a valid safety approval plate called CSC (Container Safety Convention) in order for it to be used in international trade. This plate includes the Maximum Gross Weight and means that the container has been inspected and it’s suitable both for transportation and boarding the ship.

Keep an open line of communication with your logistics professional. Yes, most shipping lines allow 1-2 ton variance without penalty, but that can’t be the rule. Always respect regulations in every state. The responsibility to ensure that the weight of the container does not exceed the maximum allowed limits belongs to the shipper, the packing warehouse, the transporter and the shipping line. Work as a real team in the interest of everyone’s safety.

Importing From Asia In 2022

Discover how to import or export from/to China, India or Vietnam and avoid delays on your cargo. Includes Incoterms and documents.

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Klaus Lydsal

"Customs duties play an important role in your international shipment. How they're determined and calculated varies from country to country"

Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers