There are two options for container shipping. Shippers can choose to ship in a private container with a full load of goods or they can share a container with other shippers, in order to move pallets or smaller loads.

The two main methods of sea freight shipping are a full container load (FCL) or a less than container load (LCL). There are benefits to each shipping method, depending on the size and volume of each load. We break each one down to help you find the right process suitable for your business.

Full Container Load (FCL)

Full Container Load or FCL is when you pay for the use of an entire container rather than paying for a section of it. When shipping using FCL, there is a flat rate for the container and you have access to all the available space within it, which is perfect for shippers looking to transport large volumes of goods. If you are looking to ship around 20cbm then FCL could be the best option for your business.

Find more information on our FCL services here.

Less than Container Load (LCL)

Less-than Container Load or LCL refers to the method of consolidating multiple shipments into one shared container. This means that businesses who are looking to import smaller volumes of stock can pay for the volume of space they need within a container instead of having to pay for the full container. This can work be cost effective if you’re only shipping small volumes (over 0.5cbm & 100kg) as you’re only paying for a small amount of space.

Find out more information on our LCL services here.

Which is best for your business?
FCL Advantages

Works out cheaper than LCL per cbm

Only you and your supplier touch the goods, reducing the chance of damage

You get to transport a large volume of goods in one movement

FCL Disadvantages

Delivery options can sometimes be restricted

Labour intensive unloading

LCL Advantages

A much more flexible option than FCL, as you don't have to wait for your container to be filled to ship

You only pay for what you ship

Can be a cost effective way to import small volumes

LCL Disadvantages

LCL is more expensive per cbm

Goods are handled by more people, increasing chances of damage

It's important to note that these are not necessarily pros or cons, as each method will have elements that are far more suited for your business.

Shipping with Unsworth

If you're still unsure whether to use container FCL vs LCL, then we recommend getting in touch with our expert team of freight specialists who are experienced across imports processes and can advise you best based on your business requirements. Contact us with your shipping requirements by clicking here or emailing hello@unsworth.uk