FCL and LCL are two different terms used in the transport and shipping industries. Is that better to carry your freight with FCL or LCL? What do LCL and FCL mean? How do they work? What are the differences?
FCL: Full Container Load
If you have enough merchandise to ship, a Full Container Load is the best and cheapest solution. In a FCL, the goods remain in the same container owned by one shipper, only one BOL will be made. When the FCL shipment arrives at its final port, it’s unloaded from the vessel and the shipment will be delivered to its final destination. Also, generally FCL is faster and safest than LCL due to less general handling.
LCL: Less than Container Load
If you don’t have a large quantity of goods to accommodate in one full container, it makes sense to book a LCL. The LCL container will be load with goods of other shippers and it is usually managed by consolidator. The consolidator will book a full container, and will separate the different shippers’ orders. Each shipment will be delivered to its final destination even if final destinations are different. However, keep in mind that a LCL is more complex than a FCL and fees may applied.
The main disadvantage is that you have no control over the cargo and dangerous objects could end up in the container such as liquids or smelly goods. You have to prepare to all these contingencies and possible damages. In addition, you need to think that if there are many final destinations, there is a risk that your cargo may be lost, misplaced and there is also a greater risk of customs check which could cause delays.
LCL container shipment is the best solution if you are a small or a medium company and you don’t have enough goods to fill a full container. If you are a larger company, a full container shipment will be more cost effective.
Unlike FCL, which usually has a flat rate per container, LCL is charged based on the volume, set in cubic meters. LCL shipping is a cost-effective solution for smaller shipments as you only need to pay for the volume space used.