It is possible to make small ocean freight shipments called LCL (less than a container load) for import and export.

When shipping LCL, cargo is consolidated with other shippers’ goods to fill a container. The price is determined by volume and weight. You are charged only for the space the cargo occupies in the container. Excess weight becomes a factor when your shipment is trucked to and from the port

LCL shipments are facilitated by a non-vessel operating common carrier (also known as an NVOCC). iContainers is an NVOCC, licensed and bonded by The Federal Maritime Commission,(FMC)

NVOCC’s reserve full containers from shipping companies based on traffic volume forecasts to different destinations. They are then able to offer space in the containers for small shipments at a reduced rate compared to a FCL(full container load) shipment.

LCL Shipping Frequency

LCL shipments to major ports occur weekly or bi-weekly. Shipments to secondary ports are less frequent and may run every 2-3 weeks depending on the destination. This will sometimes result in a waiting period for the container to be filled.

When shipping to secondary ports, your cargo may be off loaded at a trans- shipment point, where it will wait for more cargo to fill the container, before continuing to its final destination.

Palletizing Your Shipment

In order to ship LCL, the goods must be palletized. If you are shipping boxed, crated or loose cargo, it must be place on pallets.

Shipping loose cargo

To ship loose cargo it must be packed in cardboard boxes and or packing material and placed on pallets. Furniture and items that do not fit in boxes are also considered loose cargo and must be wrapped in plastic and also placed on pallets.

Shipping boxed cargo

Boxed cargo will be goods that are packed into wood crates or plywood boxes which are then placed on pallets. Any wood used in packing or pallets must be heat treated and have a visible stamp verifying ISPM 15 exemption.


There are two types of pallets: Standard (1.2m/47 ¼” X 1m/39 ⅜”) and Euro (1.2m/47 ¼” X .8m/31 ½”.)

It is important to know which pallets you are using and if your cargo is stackable in order to calculate your shipping charge.

LCL Shipping pricing

The price of an LCL shipment is calculated by destination, volume and weight. If volume is over 353 cubic feet, we recommend checking the price difference between FCL and LCL. It is generally more cost effective to ship FCL if volume is greater than 530 cubic feet.

If you want to know prices of LCL shipments for a given route, we encourage you to use our freight calculator or to send us a rate request if you are shipping a non standard cargo.

Consolidating Warehouse

In order to ship LCL there must be a consolidating warehouse at the port. iContainers has warehouse facilities at 22 ports across the U.S.

iContainer’s ports of origin for LCL shipping in the U.S.

  • Port of Baltimore
  • Port of Boston
  • Port of Norfolk
  • Port of New York
  • Port of Philadelphia
  • Port of Atlanta
  • Port of Charleston
  • Port of Charlotte
  • Port of Dallas
  • Port of Houston
  • Port of Memphis
  • Port of Miami
  • Port of New Orleans
  • Port of Chicago
  • Port of Cincinnati
  • Port of Cleveland
  • Port of Columbus
  • Port of Detroit
  • Port of Indianapolis
  • Port of Minneapolis
  • Port of Los Angeles
  • Port of Portland
  • Port of Seattle
  • Port of San Francisco
  • Port of Saint Louis
  • Port of Milwaukee