FCL vs LCL Shipping: Which is the right choice?

Maritime shipping has been an integral part of the shipping container industry for decades. The route taken via waterways is considered to be an efficient pathway for cargo container transportation across the entire world. Whenever the topic of ocean shipping comes up, one begins to wonder which option is more viable for their shipment, FCL (Full Container Load), or LCL (Less than Container Load).

Through intermodal transportation, one can ship cargo internationally. The method for transporting the shipment is essential for the shipper and they should consider certain factors like size, cost, and deadline of the delivery of cargo.

For the movement of freight by sea, the two most important terms that should be given complete thought to before making a decision are FCL or LCL. This is one major challenge that is faced by shipping companies. Before we proceed any further, let us first understand what these terms even mean.

What is FCL and LCL?

FCL (Full Container Load)

An FCL shipment, as the name suggests, is a cargo delivery that comprises the entire storage space of a maritime shipping container, without sharing it with any other shipment. It is for the usage of a single consignee, and the payment is made for the entire freight container so that your cargo occupies the entire space.

This option for shipment is considered by shippers who have a large volume of cargo that can take up all the space in an entire steel shipping container. The shipper does not have to share the cargo box with any other shipment, as the shipping box is booked exclusively for their usage. This also gives an added advantage of increased security and simplifies the logistics process.

As the FCL is owned by only one shipper, the cargo containers do not have to be filled up to the brim and loaded entirely with goods. The boxes can be accommodated even if it is half loaded, or partially loaded with the cargo. An FCL shipment gets delivered faster as compared to any other as the entire shipping unit does not have to be unloaded and unpacked into several loads before it gets delivered. This also implies that there is much less potential for port and customs authority delays that usually happen when there are a lot of other shipments merged with yours

LCL (Less than a Container Load)

LCL, or Less than container load, also commonly referred to as groupage shipping, involves cargo shipments that include only a part of the whole metal shipping container, and are transported along with many other packages carrying different cargo across many destinations in the world.

LCL is sharing a container space along with the cargo shipments that belong to many shippers. On one hand, where FCL gives you complete control of your container, LCL is the consolidation of your shipment along with others.

This type of shipping is preferred by the people who have a smaller volume of cargo to be transported as they are an economic option but they take up more time to reach their destination as compared to an FCL shipment, as they include many shipments that have to be transported in different parts of the world.

The task of transporting goods via LCL is comparatively more complicated as it involves a larger number of documents to be processed, and is more time consuming as goods are sorted differently for each customer who has to receive the cargo. This takes longer to be fulfilled as all the goods have to be offloaded from the cargo container and then wait for custom clearance and delivery.

Since FCL and LCL have varying implications for your specific shipment, one needs to be fully aware of what the major differences between the two are, so that you can decide which form of shipment is better suited for your cargo.

Differences between FCL and LCL on the basis of-

Volume of goods

The volume of shipment refers to the space that is taken up by the cargo in the shipping container. It is often a deciding factor in whether to choose FCL or LCL shipment for your cargo.

LCL Shipments are usually the go-to choice for fewer volume shipments between 2-13 cubic meters. Any cargo that measures more than 13 cubic meters is used for FCL shipment.

Security of goods

It is natural for all shippers to want their shipment to reach its destination in a safe and secure manner. Shipments need to be safeguarded against any unanticipated mishaps that could ruin or damage the whole delivery.

An FCL shipment is more secure as compared to an LCL one as the latter gives exclusive rights to the shipper of the cargo whereas, in the case of an LCL shipment, the shipper is not given any authority which implies that your cargo could be damaged in the shipping container.


Every business wants to get the best prices with the best of services. Shipment cost is a key factor to consider when deciding whether to ship FCL or LCL. If you choose to go with FCL you will have to pay the price of a full metal shipping container, irrespective of the fact whether it fills the full shipping unit or not. However, since LCL shipments are consolidated with other cargo in a single box, it is a more pocket-friendly option as you share the prices with the other shippers. Cargo insurance also gets reduced along with the transportation costs in FCL.

Speed of delivery

Timely delivery of the shipment is something that every shipper and customer wants when they decide on transporting cargo via shipping containers. Many times the goods need to be delivered on an urgent basis, hence it is essential to decide whether you need to opt for FCL or LCL shipments depending on the deadline of the shipment.

FCL is the better option for urgent shipments that need to reach their destination before or on time. This is because the FCL shipping container will be exclusively yours and there will not be any stoppages in the route. This is not the case with LCL as it includes many other shipments of different shippers who need to transport their cargo in different locations. This causes delays in shipments frequently.

There are pros and cons of both FCL as well as LCL container shipments. Every importer has their criteria on which they decide which type of shipments suits their cargo and is more efficient for them.

Here at LOTUS Containers, we have a wide variety and different types of containers like dry van, double door, reefer, tanker, etc. for you to choose from whether you go for LCL or FCL shipments. We have been providing shipping containers in Cleveland, Ohio, Hamburg and all other places of the world.

Relatório semanal de estoque

O que temos em stock:
Registre-se aqui

As nossas notícias

Estar sempre na vanguarda.


Bons contatos para o seu negócio. Começar já o networking.