When it comes to shipping large or high quantities of goods, you need to consider what shipping options to choose to deliver them to multiple destinations. According to Dedola ocean freight, you can either choose from a Full Container Load (FCL) or Less-than-Container Load (LCL).

Under an FCL agreement, you are renting the full container space for your goods without having to share them with merchandise from other shippers. When choosing an LCL or groupage, your merchandise will take up only a portion of the entire container, so your goods will be shipped with merchandise from other shippers.

Regardless of the destination, FCL and LCL are commonly used terms for international logistics. Whether you want to use a container exclusively for your shipment or you are looking to pay for shared space, you should learn the differences between LCL and FCL.

Differences Between Ocean LCL and FCL

You need to consider many factors when choosing an ocean freight arrangement, including the shipment volume, shipment weight, cost, cargo security, trackability, and the urgency of your shipment.

Shipment Volume

The main difference between LCL and FCL is the shipment volume. Generally referring to the capacity of the goods being shipped; the shipment volume is measured in cubic meters or cubic feet. More often than not, the shipment volume is the deciding factor in choosing your shipping options.

If your shipment volume is between 2 and 13 CBM, it would be best to consider an LCL shipment. An FCL shipment is recommended for a volume higher than 14 CBM or more than ten standard pallets.

Cargo Security

It is only natural for shippers to want their goods delivered safely and securely while traversing the oceans. However, not all types of shipments require the same level of security. Some merchandise is more sensitive than others.

If your priority is cargo security, then it would be best to consider opting for an FCL shipment. The FCL option is usually more secure due to exclusive rights to the entire container. Because your goods won’t be in contact with cargo from other shippers, the risk of damage or contamination will be lower. Moreover, there is a lower risk of the load being stolen or lost because the container will travel via a direct route with a single consignee.

On the other hand, an LCL shipment may be safer for low-volume shipments. In addition, you may benefit from freight insurance for an extra layer of protection.


The costs are generally cheaper for smaller loads under 15 CBM if you go for an LCL shipment. If the load exceeds 15 CBM, the prices are higher depending on the route. However, the local fees may be higher for LCL than FCL, so if you are shipping cargo of about 15 CBM, you may want to choose the full container load option.

There is no exact volume for when an FCL is less expensive since their rates may differ depending on the route. 


When shipping, both the vessel and container’s location can be tracked using the information found on the Bill of Lading. It is usually easier to follow an FCL than LCL, as the full container is transported under one consignee. The shipping company may provide you with an estimate of the shipping plan.

Urgency of Shipment

Whether you decide to ship your cargo via FCL or LCL, it is vital to plan your shipment. If you need your cargo to arrive at your destination urgently, FCL is a better option, while LCL would fit better for shipments with flexible dates. It is common for LCL shipments to be more prone to delays due to the cargo traveling to different destinations throughout the journey. 

Final Words

While choosing between FCL and LCL might be overwhelming, there is no simple answer to what would work better for you. Whenever you want to select the proper method to ship your goods, consider the route, costs, timeline, and volume of your shipment. For example, even if you do not have enough goods to fill an entire container, it may be worth paying for an FCL, as LCL generally costs more per CBM. You can always ask for a quote from a trustworthy shipping freight forwarder, as it may help you choose the right option for you.

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