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What is the difference between FCL and LCL Shipping

Why Know Different Types of Shipping?

Nowadays, it’s safe to say that most people buy things online. As such, shipping is almost always involved to get the item to your doorstep. Sometimes you may even need to ship items to friends, family, customers, or even yourself (if you have moved, for instance.) There are many different ways to ship items, with a vast majority of them either traveling via the road, air, or ship. In fact, ocean freight (shipping goods over the ocean) is one of the most common ways to transport items, especially if you want to move them overseas.

If you are thinking about using ocean freight, then you may have come across the terms such as LCL and FCL. What are they exactly, and what is the difference between them? At the end of the day, which one should you pick?

That is a lot to think about, especially if you are not well-versed in logistics terms. That is why we are here to explain all about LCL and FCL logistics to discover which one is well-suited for you. If you are interested in learning about this topic, then be sure to read on and find out more.

What are FCL and LCL?

So, what do these confusing acronyms even mean in the first place? Well, to put it simply, LCL and FCL are two types of shipping options when it comes to shipping goods across the sea, usually through containers. LCL is short for less than container load, while FCL means full container load.

Their full names make it a lot more straightforward. As they suggest, FCL indicates that goods are shipped in a full container. This means that you pay for an entire container so that your shipments can occupy the entire space. As such, it is often selected by businesses that need to transport a lot of goods, which should be enough to fill a 20-40 ft container. Other reasons why someone might pick FCL is because their goods are more fragile or can be easily damaged, and this option results in fewer people moving or touching it.

On the other hand, LCL means that you have to share the container space with other people’s shipments. As such, this option is generally often used by people or businesses who do not need to ship a large number of items or are more flexible in their delivery options. A typical shipment for LCL weighs between 1-10 cubic meters (CBM).

Differences between them

So, let us talk about the major differences between the two options. It is important that you understand them before picking an option because both of them have very different spacing implications. We have listed a few differences below for you to keep in mind:


When it comes to using FCL, you will have to pay for the entire container to transport your shipment. This means that it tends to be more expensive in comparison to LCL. Additionally, even if it turns out that you cannot entirely fill the container. You still have to pay the full fare. Fortunately, there is no rule that states how large your items must be if you choose to use FCL. On the other hand, LCL tends to be slightly cheaper. This is because you are only getting charged per CBM of your goods.

The more space your shipments take up, the more you will get charged. As such, it is more cost-effective to use LCL if you do not have a large number of shipments. It can also be used if you can stack your items. Ironically, if your shipments take up a lot of space while using LCL, it could actually cost more than using FCL. So always be aware of how large your goods are!


LCL tends to take more time to get your shipment to its destination. This is because you are sharing a container’s space with other people’s goods, which all have different places to go. Therefore, it takes longer to load, sort, unload, and separate goods at each port. After all, the ship cannot leave if all shipments have not been loaded yet! Furthermore, if one particular shipment needs to undergo inspection by the customs department, then the entire container will need to be put on hold before setting off. In contrast, FCL often takes shorter to transport your goods, since your entire shipment is in one container that can be directly unloaded and delivered to you.


Because LCL is based upon your shipment’s CBM, it is best for moving goods that are as little as 1 CBM, or at least smaller than 10 CBM. However, if your shipment ends up being less than 1 CBM (so around 200 kg), then it may be better for you to use air freight instead. This is because many airlines base their charges of the shipment either on its gross or volumetric weight. On the other hand, FCL is ideal for shipments larger than 10 CBM. As each container size has a different maximum allowable weight, so you must always double-check that your shipments do not exceed that. If you exceed the container’s maximum weight, you must use a new container to put your cargo in.


On the whole, FCL is a lot more secure in comparison to LCL. There is a lower risk of cargo being damaged, lost, or stolen because you use an entire container to carry your shipment. This means that on the route to its destination, there are fewer detours and exchange points. By going in a direct route, your cargo will not have to be handled as often. Vice versa, LCL is a lot riskier for your shipments. Because you are sharing a container with other people’s goods, your cargo will not be transported directly to you.

Rather it will likely be unloaded and moved through exchange points. This means there is a higher chance of your goods being damaged, stolen, or lost. This is why if you are transporting something fragile or valuable, it may be best to choose FCL due to its lower risk. Fortunately, even if you pick LCL, you can still buy freight insurance as an extra layer of protection. This is a great option in case something unfortunate does happen to your cargo.

Other Shipping Information

If you are interested in learning more about shipping, then this article on international shipping is definitely for you! It is an informative article that explains what the purpose of international shipping is, what it is used for, and why it is useful. Furthermore, it explores different types of shipping and serves as a brief guide on how the process works. A very interesting aspect of the article is that it highlights the processes that we are not aware of. It also enlightens readers on different types of freight shipping. One of them is air freight is the fastest way compared to ocean freight. To learn more about how the goods you purchase online get you, this article is highly recommended.

If you are looking to build your own business and would like to learn how companies or small businesses save up on shipping, definitely check out ‘How to Save Money on Shipping Soap Supplies” to gain insight on how to run a business by also saving money. It shares useful tips on what steps to take in order to have a cost-effective shipping approach. There are many tips that can be applied to your own business. By learning how other businesses operate you can improve your business immensely! For example, this article suggests that it is important to reuse existing packaging and know your competitors. These tips can be applied in any business. By combining all this information from this article and the ones linked above, you are guaranteed to know the important aspects of shipping that affect any business. By doing so, you are more likely to run a successful business.

Make sure to share these tips with others who would appreciate awesome tips on shipping.



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