When is it appropriate for

LCL shipping?

Understanding (LCL) Less than Container Load

Key Points of
LCL Shipping

LCL (Less than Container Load) is a worldwide shipping sea freight forwarding method used to describe shipments that are too small to fill an entire container, and is usually cheaper than FCL since the cost of shipping a full container is shared. 

The main advantages of an LCL shipment include the buyer paying for the space they need to use, supplying small businesses with the low cost of ocean shipping, and being charged fees per cubic meter (or per 1,000 kg whichever is higher). 

On the other hand, the main disadvantages of an LCL shipment include the ocean freight cost of an LCL shipment being per CBM and typically higher compared to the total cost of a full container, higher risk of the container being flagged for a customs examination, and LCL shipments taking some more days in transit compared to FCL due to the deconsolidation process. 

When considering an LCL agreement, buyers should take the following into account: volume, the gross weight, product category, route time, and the pricing of the shipment.’

How Much Does LCL Shipping Cost?

A typical cargo vessel has the capacity to carry 3,000 containers. That is approximately 200,000 CBM of freight!

Because buyers are expected to ship in bulk, it is necessary to charge a minimum when shipping under an LCL agreement.

Calculating the cost of an LCL shipment is based on the space or volume occupied by the shipment at a minimum of 1 CBM in a shared shipping container. 

If the total volume of the load is less than the minimum, the charges are calculated as one CBM. However, even if your goods require far less space than the minimum requirement, you will be required to pay the cost for the minimum volume.

If sea freight is calculated by actual volume, air freight charges by gross weight or volume weight, whichever is greater. When shipped via Air express, a 0.8 CBM shipment with a gross weight of 50kg will have a volume weight of 160kg. If sent by LCL, the cost will be determined by the ocean freight minimum of 1 CBM.Fre

Freight logistics companies use different terms for some of their line item charges, but the amounts they charge are usually international standards. Other fees are involved in an LCL shipment, in addition to the cost of sea freight paid to the shipping line for transporting the goods from point A to point B.

These fees cover various freight logistics services such as chassis fees, which are shared among consignments in the same container. Warehousing charges, which are usually added for LCL shipments because the container needs to be transferred to a warehouse to be sorted out based on the consignments, as well as other specific handling fees, are also common.

Depending on the route, the total cost per CBM for ocean freight from China to Canada can range between $25 and $140. Rates for LCL freight typically change monthly, so it is critical to verify the accuracy of the quoted rates provided by your freight forwarder before arranging the shipment.

Find out when you should be using LCL for shipping and why it might be the best choice for your business!

What is LCL Shipping?

LCL (Less than Container Load) shipping is an ocean freight method used to describe shipments that are too small to fill an entire container. 

When cargo volume does not completely fill a container full. The other option is LCL shipment and it is usually costs less than FCL since the price of shipping a full container is shared. 

It is important to contact a reputable freight forwarder or 3rd party logistics company to obtain a few quotes when comparing CBM cost between an LCL shipment and an FCL shipment.

What Are the Advantages of an LCL Shipment?

Since the container is shared with other shipments, the key benefit of LCL shipping is that the buyer only pays for the space they actually need. 

This choice enables smaller companies to take benefit of China to Canada ocean shipping‘s low cost without obligating them to ship in bulk.

When travel time is not a concern, LCL shipping, which is charged per cubic meter (or per 1,000 lb, whichever is higher), is the most cost-effective alternative for sending smaller but heavier packages.

What Are the Disadvantages of an LCL Shipment?

Although an LCL shipment is a cheaper option in comparison to an FCL shipment, the ocean freight cost of an LCL shipment is per CBM and is typically higher compared to the total cost of a full container. 

As the buyer is only buying a part of the whole containers space, there are instances when LCL may be more expensive than simply getting a full container.

Additionally, there is a higher risk of the container being flagged for a customs examination due to different types of products in the container. 

Furthermore, LCL shipments can also be mixed up or misplaced with other shipments due to the handling involved in the deconsolidation process. 

As a result, LCL shipments take some more days in transit compared to FCL, because of this deconsolidation process.

China to Canada ocean freight is known to take more time in transit than air freight, thus, shipments that are time-sensitive should be carefully planned.

When Is It Best to Use an LCL Agreement?

It is helpful to know when is the best time to ship using an LCL method.

When considering an LCL agreement, buyers should take the following into account: volume, the gross weight, product category, route time, and the pricing of the shipment. 

It is ideal to consider an LCL agreement if the volume of the goods is between 1 to 18 CBM and the gross weight of the shipment is more than 150kg during peak season and 200kg during the off-peak season.

Additionally, air shipping method is the number one choice for smaller shipments, and therefore, LCL is a great alternative option to air freight.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Using LCL Shipping?

The main advantages of an LCL shipment include the buyer paying for the space they need to use, supplying small businesses with the low cost of ocean shipping, and being charged fees per cubic meter (or per 1,000 kg whichever is higher). 

The main disadvantages of an LCL shipment include the ocean freight cost of an LCL shipment being per CBM and typically higher compared to the total cost of a full container, higher risk of the container being flagged for a customs examination, and LCL shipments taking some more days in transit compared to FCL due to the deconsolidation process.

Learn how to find a top shipping logistics company be it China to Canada shipping and connecting onward shipping freight to California. Save-on shipping to USA from Canada on freight forwarding with shipping Incoterms and  DAP (delivery at place) Incoterms arrangement.
Alexander Crane
Alexander Crane

Author & Chief Executive Officer at Paige Logistics Ltd. → Experienced Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Transportation, Trucking and the Railroad Industry.