Less Than Container Load

If your business moves products internationally, you have probably seen or hear the term LCL or Less Than Container Load when working with your freight forwarder. What the LCL or Less than container load options means for you when shipping cargo is worth understanding in some detail. Let’s take a deeper dive into the term and it’s ramifications…..


Less than a container load identifies a shipping option where your goods will share space in either a 20 ft. or 40 ft. container. Conversely, the FCL or Full container load means that your goods are riding in a container that holds only your cargo. The primary difference to you will be cost. Reserving and paying for an entire container will cost more if you don’t have enough product to actually fill it. In most cases an LCL option will be the cheaper way to go if you don’t have enough cargo to completely fill either a 20 or 40 ft. container.

Dependable arrival times 

As a rule, LCL containers will have a more reliable arrival schedule that FCL containers. LCL containers typically receive preferred priority when delays are incurred at ports along the routes the carrier is traveling. The simple reason for this is because the delay is impacting more customers….all the clients that are sharing the container your cargo is in!

Business Management Advantages 

With shrinking life cycles and production schedules that build to immediate demand, hold large quantities of goods in a warehouse until there is enough to fill an entire container may not make good economic sense. If this is a consideration for you, then building smaller lots with more frequent shipments using LCL strategies may make economic sense for your business. You will enjoy lower inventory costs as well as a more stable cash flow. 

Frequent Asked Questions 

How do I calculate the cost differences between FCL and LCL?

There are several variables in the cost equation, including documentation, insurance and transfer fees associated with both options. At Eagles air & Sea, we will be happy to sit down with you and work through the financial pros and cons of both options. In some cases, if your shipment is on the small side, it may even make sense to ship via air freight.

What is the maximum size for using LCL?

As a rule of thumb, 20 CBM or 10 metric tonnes is the point of largest practical use for the LCL option.

Are LCL shipments handled differently than FCL shipments?

Not really. Your goods will be picked up in a truck and delivered to a warehouse where it will be consolidated with other cargo going into the same container and heading for the same end destination. 

We provide less than container load for your shipment need