FCL and LCL during Import

FCL and LCL are two common terms in international export and import trade. They describe the proportion of a company’s goods in a shipping container. We clarify what the terms LCL and FCL mean in our advice article. Also where is the difference between LCL and FCL and what advantages each way of shipping has.

Difference between FCL and LCL

FCL and LCL are both names in logistics. They represent the way in which a container is shipped by cargo ship or transported by train and truck via rail and road. FCL means “Full Container Load” and LCL means “Less (than Full) Container Load”.

According to paulsourcing, FCL stands for a full container load. This means a container that goes on journey as a whole and sealed for just one client. Contrary to what the name might suggest, the container does not have to be completely full.

LCL describes the partial container load. Goods from different clients are shipped together in one container. In this case, you can also talk about general cargo or groupage.

Importance and advantages of FCL

FCL is the abbreviation for Full Container Load. FCL shipments are usually only traceable when you want to import large quantities of goods. It is also attractive that FCL containers are only sealed for you until they are unloaded. Theft can be minimized by sealing the container. FCL shipments are usually much faster at the recipient, as no goods from different clients have to be put together and no customs clearance for different goods has to take place in the destination country. They are better suited for deliveries that are exactly on time.

Importance and benefits of LCL

LCL is the abbreviation for Less (Than Full) Container Load. In comparison to FCL, LCL is usually cheaper if the quantities do not completely fill a container. This is because the logistician can use the orders of different customers to break down the ideal and most cost-efficient loading of his containers. As a rule, goods are therefore very tightly packed in LCL containers. Slipping and destruction of the goods at sea is therefore minimized, which can happen with an FCL container that is not completely filled. At times with high transport volumes, it can be easier to book an LCL transport, as the possibility of FCL shipments is limited more quickly when there is high demand.

As a further disadvantage in addition to the longer shipping time, LCL Sensungen are more prone to delays. This is due to the fact that they are first picked and, under certain circumstances, loaded and unloaded several times in transshipment ports even during the dispatch route.


FCL shipping is usually the better option for urgent shipments that have to arrive before a fixed date, for example. LCL shipping is the better choice for the cheapest possible shipping from China with flexible delivery dates.