LCL VS FCL | Which one should I choose?

Choose between LCL and FCL for your shipping needs. This guide helps you make an informed decision with ease.
What are LCL and FCL mean in shipping? Which one should I choose?

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What are LCL and FCL mean in shipping? Which one should I choose?

LCL and FCL are two common terms used in international shipping to refer to different modes of shipping cargo.

  • LCL: Less than Container Load
  • FCL: Full Container Load

Definition of LCL

LCL refers to a mode of shipping where a shipment of goods does not fill an entire shipping container

Multiple shipments from different consignees are consolidated into a single container.

The shipping cost is calculated based on the volume of goods being shipped, and the freight forwarder handles the consolidation and deconsolidation of the cargo.

Definition of FCL

FCL refers to a mode of shipping where an entire container is dedicated to one consignee’s cargo.

The cost of shipping is calculated based on the size of the container. Usually 20-foot and 40-foot containers.

Containers come in lengths of 20 feet and 40 feet, and the size of the containers used is usually determined by the volume of the cargo.

LCL and FCL: The most significant difference

Shipment volume:

Shipment volume refers to the amount of cargo being transported in a single shipment, typically measured by weight or volume.

In shipping market usually uses 40-foot containers, which can hold about 68 cubic meters, LCL is recommended for goods under 50 cubic meters.

FCL(40-foot container) is used when the total volume of goods exceeds 50 cubic meters.

LCL and FCL shipment cost

Shipment cost is one of the major factors to consider when deciding on whether to ship FCL or LCL. Arguably the most significant determining factor.

Normally, LCL is cheaper than FCL for goods under 50 cubic meters, because shipment charges are calculated by volume and weight, which means that the heavier and many more your shipment is, the more expensive you will have to pay.

But if your shipment over 50 cubic meters, you are advised to use FCL(40-foot container).

The advantages and disadvantages of LCL

Advantages of LCL shipping

Cost-effective: LCL shipping allows you to ship smaller quantities of goods, which can be a more cost-effective option than FCL (Full Container Load) shipping.

Flexibility: With LCL, you are free to choose how much cargo you want to transport, without worrying about paying the price of the whole container because the shipment is too less

Disadvantages of LCL shipping

Longer transit times: LCL shipping can take longer than FCL shipping due to the additional time required for consolidation and deconsolidation of cargo.

Product requirements: LCL will have requirements for products, only general product, can not transport Dangerous goods(DG), powders, pastes, etc.

The advantages and disadvantages of FCL

Advantages of FCL shipping

Faster transit times: FCL shipping is generally faster than LCL shipping as there are no delays caused by consolidation and deconsolidation of cargo.

More space: FCL shipping provides more space for businesses to pack their goods, which can be beneficial for larger shipments or bulky items.

Lower handling costs: FCL shipping may have lower handling costs compared to LCL shipping, as there is no need for the freight forwarder to consolidate and deconsolidate the cargo.

Fewer product restrictions: FCL shipping can transport Dangerous goods(DG), only the relevant certification is required

Disadvantages of FCL shipping

Higher costs: FCL shipping can be more expensive than LCL shipping, especially for smaller shipments.

Empty space: If a business does not have enough cargo to fill an entire container, they may end up paying for unused space.


Overall, FCL shipping is a faster and more secure option for larger shipments. However, it may not be the most cost-effective or flexible option for smaller shipments or businesses with varying shipping needs.

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