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  • Writer's pictureImportNewbies

FCL vs LCL - What's the difference?

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

The choice between FCL and LCL depends on the volume of your goods and your budget. If you have a substantial amount of products to ship and want exclusive use of a container, FCL is usually the preferred option. On the other hand, if you have a smaller quantity of goods, LCL offers a cost-effective solution by sharing container space with other shippers. Both options have their advantages and can be tailored to meet your specific shipping needs.

Graphic of a blue container

FCL (Full Container Load):

  • FCL stands for "Full Container Load."

  • This option is suitable when you have enough products to fill an entire shipping container.

  • The container's capacity may vary slightly depending on the carrier and the type of container used (e.g., 20-foot or 40-foot container).

  • FCL is often more cost-effective when shipping large quantities of goods because you pay for the entire container's space, regardless of whether it's completely full or not.

  • It offers more control over the shipping process, as you have exclusive use of the container, which can help reduce the risk of damage or loss during transit.

  • FCL shipments are typically faster, as there are fewer handling points and less consolidation required.

More about container sizes and capacities, go here.

A pallet with 3 boxes on top

LCL (Less than Container Load):

  • LCL stands for "Less than Container Load."

  • This option is suitable when you have a smaller quantity of products that would not fill an entire shipping container.

  • LCL shipments involve consolidating goods from multiple shippers into a single container at a Container Freight Station (CFS) or Container Yard (CY).

  • Shippers are charged based on the volume or weight of their goods and share the container space and cost with others.

  • LCL can be more cost-effective for smaller shipments, as you only pay for the space your goods occupy within the shared container.

  • It's a practical choice when you don't have enough products to justify the cost of an entire container.

  • LCL shipments may take slightly longer due to consolidation and transloading processes.


Disclaimer: Please note that all information provided in this post is for reference purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult with a qualified professional for specific inquiries or concerns. This website is not comprehensive and does not encompass all the necessary aspects of import procedures. 

If you are in need of Customs Brokerage assistance, contact our main company, Elleo Global today!




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