In shipping, FCL means Full Container Load. Unlike LCL shipping, this means that will have entire container’s space to yourself and will not be sharing your container with other shippers.
This, however, does not mean that you need to have enough cargo to fill the entire container. With FCL shipping, you may fill the container only partially, which is fairly common practice in the ocean freight industry.
A partially full FCL shipment is often less expensive to ship because there is none of the consolidating and handling fees associated with loose cargo, as in an LCL shipment.
The rule of thumb is, if you are shipping 6 standard pallets in a 20ft container or 12 standard pallets or more in a 40ft container, it might be more cost effective to ship your cargo via FCL shipping than LCL shipping.
Most FCL shipments are door-to-port, but it is possible to ship FCL port-to-port, port-to-door, or door-to-door. In the export and import business, the shipper is usually responsible for the door-to-port and the consignee is responsible from the port of destination to his warehouse. However, you should refer to the Incoterm agreed upon for clearer obligations and financial responsibilities and how they’re divided between exporter and importer.
The shipper’s ability to pack and load a container, be it a 20-foot or a 40-foot, in an efficiently manner can reduce shipping costs significantly. There are specialized packing companies that can handle palletizing or construction of wood boxes.
If you decide to pack your own container, this is referred to as “live load”. The container will arrive at your residence or warehouse on a truck and you will be given two hours to load your cargo. If you need more than two hours, please make your request in advance. The additional time will be charged by the hour.
There are two types of pallets: Standard (47 ¼” X 39 ⅜” or 1.2m X 1m) and Euro (47 ¼” X 31 ½” or 1.2m X 0.8m).
A standard container, both 20ft & 40ft, has a door opening of dimensions 7’8” X 7’6” X 19’4 (2.34m X 2.28m X 5.898m x 5.898m).
You will need to secure and put your shipment onto pallets. A 20-ft container fits 10 standard pallets or 12 Euro pallets on the floor of the container, unstacked. And a 40-ft container fits 20 standard pallets or 24 Euro pallets, unstacked.