Difference between ICD, CFS, and AFS

ICD Vs CFS vs AFS

In the last few years, there has been considerable growth in the supply chain thus the movement of many shipping and storage containers saw a large increase. The growth in intermodal transportation services, containerization, and the growth in world trade is the reason behind crowded ports. The shippers and receivers of goods located in remote areas were seeing difficulty in the movement of cargoes for clearance. This gave way to the building of ICD, CFS, and AFS to help the movement of goods. But the terms ICD, CFS, and AFS are always confusing for the people belonging to the shipping container industry. And when it comes to putting out the difference between ICD, CFS, and AFS, they can even become groggy with the new terms. But they are not so difficult to understand. And with the right description, anyone can understand the meaning of them.

To know about all of them in detail, let’s go through what they are and the difference between ICD, CFS, and AFS!


What is an Inland Containers Depot?


ICD or Inland Container Depot is the storage establishment located in a faraway part of the prime ports. The cargo transportation companies use the facility for storing and transferring the freight containers when they have to move the goods before and after transporting them to the ports. They are also referred to as the “Dry Ports” as they are situated away from the ocean or any bigger sea or river route. They are well known for carrying out Custom manifestos, entry bills, transportation bills, and other such documents that are needed before and after the shipment to the ports. Every ICD has its own station code that the Ministry of Commerce allocates.

What are the functions and benefits of Inland Container Depots?

The different functions and benefits of Inland Container Depot are:

  • Inland Container Depot provides the facility for importers and exporters to store their metal shipping containers. They can do so before going to the seaports. And the exporters can keep their cargo containers in the ICD before transporting the cargo.
  • The exporters and importers can get custom clearance from ICD beforehand. As most of the services that are available at the seaport will be available at ICD also.
  • The exporters and the importers can enjoy the service, repair, and other such facilities at ICD that they enjoy at seaports.
  • They are used for the storage of empty containers. And exporters and importers also use them as third-party storage facilities for their LCL shipment. To know more about LCL shipment, read our blog, “What are FCL and LCL?”
  • As they serve as dry ports, they help in the increase of imports and exports. And provide large space for extra storage and movement of maritime shipping containers as well.
  • They help in easing the causes of port congestion as they provide vast storage spaces.

After talking about ICD, let’s move to CFS, to know all about them.

What is Container Freight Station?


A CFS or Container Freight Station is at the nearest to the seaport, prime railway hub, or terminal. Shipping lines, terminals, or some private company owns the Container Freight Stations. They are identified as “Origin CFS” and “Destination CFS”, as they serve as origin and destination ports for the movement of goods. Due to an increase in demand for LCL shipments, the need for CFS emerged. And since their construction, they are highly serving as a storage facility in different places of the world. They are perfect for storing and securing goods before going for the voyage.

What are the functions and benefits of Container Freight Stations?


The functions and benefits of Container Freight Stations are:

  • Used for accepting and storing LCL shipments.
  • Used for loading and unloading LCL and FCL shipments.
  • Identification seals are placed here to demarcate shipping containers into different grades.
  • Used as interim space for storing cargo containers and empty containers.
  • Provides maintenance and repair of the freight containers.
  • Suitable for transferring goods or containers between ports, terminals, via road or rail transportation method.

Now let’s move to AFS.

What is Air Freight Station?

Air Freight Station or AFS is a storage establishment that is mostly away from the airport to store and secure the cargoes and steel shipping containers that need importing or exporting. AFS infrastructure saves airports from space crunch and provides containers a huge space. The shippers can keep the shipping containers safely before and after transportation. Some of the Express Companies make their own Air Freight Stations but most of the companies use the AFS for handling general cargo. The existing ICDs also serve as AFS sometimes when they have to keep the goods in hinterlands to fully and maximally use the freight container stations.

What are the functions and benefits of Air Freight Stations?


The functions and benefits of Air Freight Stations are:

  • Used for storing, securing, and transporting goods before and after import and exports.
  • The cargo that needs to go or to be received at the airport. The loaders can easily transfer them when they go to and fro from airports.
  • The completion of the inspection and customs-related documentation takes place here.
  • The loaders use them to store, examine, pack, and deliver the cargoes.
  • They can also auction/dispose of the cargoes that the receivers don't receive after import after 30 days.

Now let’s look at the difference between ICD, CFS, and AFS.

  • The ICD is in remote areas to provide better connection in the areas and is far from the seaports. The custom-related services and documentation are available at ICDs. They are also better for storing and providing security to the cargoes.
  • The CFS is the establishment that is near ports and the people use them for consolidating and segregating goods. It is perfect for transporting LCL shipments as LCL shipments need separation of goods. They are helpful in making the ports less congested.
  • The AFS is an establishment that is set up for easing up the congestion in the airports. They are mainly for handling airport goods. They serve as a temporary storage space. And all the Custom, maintenance, and repair services can easily take place here.

Thus, we see that we need all the different types of stations for various purposes. There is a huge difference between ICD, CFS, and AFS and they are helpful in easing up the congestion at terminals, ports, and airports. There are many container service companies that provide container depot services in Omaha, Nebraska, and other parts of the USA and the world. With container depots, the loaders, shippers, and business person have the freedom of keeping their merchandise and freight containers safe and secure.