If you’re planning on shipping bulk items using containers, then you might have encountered the terms LCL (Less than Container Load) and FCL (Full Container Load). These terms are used to describe the type of container.

Many consignees are often confused as to what they mean and which one of them is the better option. In order to clear all your confusion, we have compiled and answered some of the most commonly asked questions so that you can make an informed decision.

What is LCL & FCL in shipping terms?

As the name might suggest, LCL refers to when a container isn’t entirely filled with the consignee’s shipment. It is a shared container, for those who don’t have enough supplies to book an entire container.

FCL on the other hand is one that is dedicated to a single shipper. Thereby, it will only have their cargo. It’s used when someone has many items to ship which require an entire single container.

Is LCL cheaper than FCL 20 ft.?

For a 20 feet container, both LCL and FCL cost the same per cubic meter.  However, it should be noted that for other sizes, this may not necessarily be true.

How much does LCL shipping cost?

The costs for an LCL shipment depend on many factors such as the route of the shipment. However, these rates are according to international standards so we can make an estimate. Typically, it costs anywhere from $25 to $140 per cubic meter for ocean freight.

It should be noted that you do need to pay a minimum cost since most consignees are ordering in bulk. This minimal cost is typically equal to one cubic meter of shipping even if you’re shipping less than that amount.

Furthermore, there are other miscellaneous costs included that you need to consider such as the chassis fee and warehouse charges.

Why is FCL cheaper than LCL?

For sizes other than 20 feet, FCL is generally cheaper than LCL. The reason for this is that it’s easier to handle a Full Container Load. Since LCL contains shipments from different consignees, they have to be bundled together accordingly, while that’s not a problem with FCL. It’s not only easier but less costly to manage FCL. It’s similar to how suppliers give cheaper rates when you order in bulk.

How does LCL shipping work?

In LCL, a single container is booked by multiple shippers, who each have less shipment than 1 full container. Their products are shipped together on freight and when it arrives at the destination, the individual shipments are each bundled separately. Once that’s been taken care of, they are sent to the desired location.

What is an example of LCL?

Examples of companies offering LCL are Freightos and Flexport.

How do I track my LCL shipment?

Typically your freight forwarder will provide you with an OTS or Online Tracking System which can be used to track the progress of your shipment. If they haven’t done so, you can contact them and ask if they will provide you with it. In case they don’t give you the option of OTS, you can still get in touch with them to track your shipment.

How do I book an LCL shipment?

You can follow the steps below to book an LCL shipment.

  1. Choose a trustworthy service provider. It is imperative to do your research in order to ensure that you get the best rates.
  2. Get in touch with them using the contact information provided.
  3. Send them details about your shipment such as the dimensions of the shipment and the destination.
  4. Once you’ve verified all the information, you’re ready to send in your shipment to their warehouse.

What is LCL in export?

LCL is a partially filled container that has shipments from multiple consignees.

What is the maximum weight for LCL shipment?

The maximum weight allowed on an LCL per cubic meter is 1 ton or 1000kg.



We hope these FAQs helped you understand the differences between LCL and FCL shipments and which one is the right one for you. If you wish to learn about some freight forwarders from around the world then we have a series of articles covering those topics which you can check out here.