Booking An LCL Shipping Container? 8 Big Concepts To Note!

Shaun H. Ruff


An LCL – Less-than-container load – shipment is a consignment of cargo that can not fill a standard shipping container, so it is consolidated in one or more containers with other shipments from the same shipper.

The consolidated load sharing space with other goods is offered to the consolidator at a lower rate. When booking an LCL Shipment, you have to take into account several key concepts. Some of them are listed below:

1. The destination port of consolidation

The consolidation port determines where your shipment will meet others and be loaded onto the container ship. It may not be clear what this port is when making original bookings for each piece of cargo.

Your consolidate forwarder should provide you with information on the consolidation port. If the consolidator offers door to door service, an extra fee should be considered for this service.

The destination port of consolidation

2. The destination port of discharge

The destination port is the final destination for your shipment. It may differ from where you are shipping to, particularly if you are transiting through a country en route to your end destination.

The consolidator will give you information on final landed costs and procedures for delivery at this port.

3. Container type

After determining the destination ports of consolidation and discharge, choosing a specific type of container (20 feet or 40 feet) and whether you want an open-top or closed top container is essential.

The maximum allowed weight of cargo in a 20-foot LCL is 4500 kgs, and in a 40 foot LCL, it is 9600 kgs. Hence, choose the container as per the weight of the total cargo.

4. Container loading position

The most critical specification is the container loading position. The positions available are: “Front End” or FE, which means that your cargo will be placed in front of the container doors and unloaded first; a “Rear Entrance” or RE, which means that your cargo will be placed behind the container doors and unloaded last; and a Side Ramp Loading (SL), where your cargo will be placed on one side of the truck chassis to load. 

There may not even be any available loading positions in some transhipment cases as they may all have been taken by other shipping lines. Therefore, it is essential to consider this when finalizing a booking with a consolidator.

You can even book a “piggyback” consignment in a complete truckload shipment where the cargo is loaded on top of the container.

5. Container door types

The most common door types are type 1 and type 2 doors. The former has a smaller door opening width and a low ceiling height.

It is generally used for 20-foot containers, while 40 feet containers have type 2 doors that offer higher ceilings and larger door openings for ease in loading/unloading. As per shipping lines, either or both may be offered by consolidators.

You can also request other available options if preferred.

Container door types

6. Deadweight (DWT) vs cubic meter (CBM)

A cubic meter is equal to 1 metric ton of cargo, or 35 cubic feet. Depending on where you are in the world, your shipment may be charged based on one unit or the other.

Typically, shipments moving to Europe are measured by volume (cbm), while for most other parts of the world, they are weighed (dwt).

7. Port of discharge

After booking an LCL container shipment, your consolidated forwarder will provide you with routing options based on equipment availability.

It may not always be possible to determine what port your shipment will travel through to reach its destination. The consolidated forwarder can advise you on your options at this point.

8. Freight rate

When booking cargo into a full container that will later be consolidated down into an LCL consignment, you should expect that this total container rate will apply to all the cargo in the container when it is finally filled.

If you are unclear on any of these points, your consolidated forwarder should be able to provide answers along with the best shipping options for your shipment.

Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of
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