The ocean freight is one of the most common methods to import and export goods in the international market. The freight forwarders book the container with a shipping agent, transfer the cargo into the container at the port of origin and shipped overseas to its destination.

The journey is usually port-to-port; however, many companies provide services of port-to-door, door-to-port, and door to door. There are two basic types of ocean freight: FCL and LCL. Usually, FCL is considered as a better option compared to the latter. But what makes it better? Let’s find out!

FCL (Full Container)    

Full Container Load, known as FCL in short, provides you with the entire container’s space to yourself, which is not the case with LCL shipping method. This means that you will not have to share a container with other shippers. There is no obligation to fill the entire container, therefore, you have the option to partially fill the container, which happens to be a common practice in this industry. As there is no consolidating and handling fee involved with the partially full shipment, it tends to be economical to ship than an LCL shipment.

Containers are usually available in different size. For instance, you can choose between 20-foot, 40-foot, or 40-foot high cube container, of different sizes. A significant amount of FCL shipments are door-to-port, however, it is also possible that the shipment is port-to-door, port-to-port, and door to door.

Unless agreed otherwise, it is the industry standard that the responsibility of a shipper is limited to door-to-port portion. After that, the consignee is solely responsible for the goods, which are generally transferred from the port into the warehouse. There are, however, some clearance and financial obligations, which are divided among importer and exporter, either by law or mutual agreement.

Benefits of shipping FCL

  • You do not have to worry much about the weight or size of your goods as FCL give you the entire container to store your goods.

  • If there is an inspection, your cargo will be inspected in isolation without mixing up with the cargo of other shippers.

  • There is a lower chance of contamination or damage to your goods as there will be no other cargo stored in your container

  • There is no standby time when using FCL container as it does not require to be fully filled in order to initiate the shipping process.

LCL or Groupage (Share a Container)

Less than Container Load shipping, or LCL in short, sometimes also referred as groupage, is a method of freight shipping where your goods are consolidated with other shipper’s cargo in order to fill a container. The price of the shipment, unlike FCL method, is not fixed and depends upon the volume, height, and weight of your cargo. Your freight forward agent may compare the prices with FCL shipment method, especially when the size of your cargo is bigger as it can be cheaper to use FCL service in that case, especially when the volume is above 500 cubic feet.

Drawbacks of shipping LCL

  • There may be long standby time as the container needs to be completely filled in order to complete the shipment, which can be problematic for fast-track shipping.

  • The cargo of other shippers is also present in the container, which may come under an inspection by customs. This can, consequently, delay your shipment and poses a risk of mix-up between your goods and the other cargo.

  • Other goods that are stored inside the container create a risk of contamination or damage to your cargo.

The final words

These were some of the key points pertaining to two types of ocean freight. There may be some disadvantages attached to FCL method as well, however, in light of aforementioned reasons, it is evident that FCL is Better Ocean Freight Method than LCL.