What is FCL shipping?

In shipping, FCL means Full Container Load. Unlike LCL shipping, FCL means that you have the 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 fill the entire container. With FCL shipping, you may fill the container only partially, which is a fairly common practice in the ocean freight industry.

FCL shipping cost

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 like in an LCL shipment.

With FCL shipping, you may ship in a 20-foot container, 40-foot container, or 40-foot high cube container.

Generally, if you are shipping 6 standard pallets in a 20-foot container or 12 standard pallets or more in a 40-foot 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 portion and the consignee is responsible for everything 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.

Preparing your FCL shipment

The shipper’s ability to pack and load a container in an efficient manner can reduce shipping costs significantly. There are specialized packing companies that can handle the 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. Any additional time will be charged by the hour.

Pallets for FCL shipping

There are two types of commonly-used pallets:

  • Standard: 47 ¼” X 39 ⅜” or 1.2m X 1m
  • Euro: 47 ¼” X 31 ½” or 1.2m X 0.8m

A standard container, both 20-foot and 40-foot, 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-foot container fits 10 standard pallets or 12 Euro pallets on the floor of the container, unstacked. And a 40-foot container fits 20 standard pallets or 24 Euro pallets, unstacked.