Maritime transport is critical to the world’s economy as over 90{7e1984170fd929454d69f1f4a772917cb839fb26f7e1ecd6c8a5e6994cf1a858} of the world’s trade is carried by the international shipping industry. Maritime transport is by far the most cost-effective to mobilize goods and raw materials around the world. So what is LCL and FCL?

As being someone involved in international trading, you might have heard the terms LCL(Less than Container Loads) and FCL (Full Container Load). These are two of the most widely used terminologies of maritime transport. However, these two terminologies are widely misunderstood and we have seen many cases of importers paying huge sums of money just because of their lack of understanding of these two shipping two methods. 

Let’s shed some light on LCL & FCL, its meaning, and the pros and cons of each approach.


FCL or a full container load is a shipment process where you get a full exclusive container for a single shipment. In FCL, your cargo space is not shared by any other cargo


Contrary to FCL, in LCL you do not get an exclusive container, instead, you pay for the share of the space you use. With LCL, you do not require to book for a full 20 or 40-foot capacity container.  

LCL Vs FCL (Pros and Cons)

Point of Difference FCL LCL
Delivery Speed FCL shipment is faster. The shipment will be sealed by the original supplier. The entire shipment will be loaded and transported by a combination of sea, rail or road transport to your final destination.   LCL shipping requires a longer time. The reason is pretty straightforward. Your shipment will wait at the loading port until it finds consolidation partners. This will be again required at the destination port. 
Bill of Lading To be issued by the freight forwarder.  The Bill of lading will be issued by the official shipping line. 
Inventory Size 

You’ll have to book a full container which generally comes in two sizes 20 Foot Container: 5,896 mm (L) x 2,350 mm (W) x 2,393 mm (H)40 Foot Container: 12,032 mm (L) x 2,350 mm (W) x 2,393 mm (H)The price per unit of FCL is comparatively lower, however, you must be able to pay for the full container  You book for the amount of space your goods will require so you don’t have to worry about booking the entire container. 

LCL is expensive in terms of price per unit. However, since you do not require to book a full container, you can ship limited goods at a fair price.
Damaged Goods
FCL shipping is more secure and the chances of damage to your goods are fairly less as the container only has your goods. 

LCL can get pretty risky as you cannot be sure about the other goods placed in the container which means there is no guarantee of cargo security.  

When to Choose LCL:

If you want to import a limited quantity of goods and don’t have any tighter deadlines, LCL is a wise option as it put a huge cut on the cost. However, if the cargo is sensitive and extremely vulnerable to damage you must get it insured or consult with an expert. 

When to FCL: 

If you want to import in bulk, FCL is the obvious choice as you it saves time, money, and goods are delivered in a more secure fashion. 

Shipping Consultancy by Blink Global

At blink Global, we provide shipping consultancy to all big and small importers. We also provide sourcing services and offer our clients 360° sourcing solutions. Request a quote or call us today!