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In international container shipping, the terms LCL and FCL are used to define the type of shipment. There are up to 4 different modes, the choice of which will be determined by the number of shippers and consignees combined with the volume of goods. LCL shipments are used when the volume of goods does not fill a full container.


The acronym LCL stands for “Less than a Container Load”. When LCL mode is chosen, or more commonly known as “groupage”, it means that the container is loaded with products from several companies.

LCL has 3 shipping modes:

  • LCL/LCL: goods from multiple consignors and multiple consignees
  • LCL/FCL: goods from several consignors for a single consignee
  • FCL/LCL: goods from a single consignor for several consignees


The cost of shipment in LCL is calculated according to the weight/volume ratio to obtain the paying unit. For maritime shipments, the rule is 1 tonne = 1 M3 (for air shipments 1 tonne = 6 M3 // for rail shipments 1 tonne = 3 M3). This means that the higher of the 2 figures must be taken.

Example: for a sea shipment of a 120x80x130cm pallet (1.25 M3) and a total weight of 800 kgs (0.8T), the rate will be based on 1.25 paying units. In this example, the price of the shipment will be based on the volume (1.25 m3) and not the weight (0.8T), whichever is greater.

We strongly recommend that you contact a freight forwarder to assess the best mode of transport. Depending on the weight and volume delivered, he will calculate the best mode of transport/price ratio.


There are several advantages to using LCL:

  • Lower cost if the volume of a shipment is not sufficient to fill an entire container, because the shipping costs are shared with the shippers/consignees who ship/receive the goods in the same container.
  • More flexible shipping times: can ship goods on a regular basis without waiting to fill a container
  • Large volume of goods shipped: LCL can be used if a container is already full but there are still goods to be shipped.

Our experts will propose the solution best suited to your needs in terms of shipment, delivery, lead time and cost. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

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Balguerie Group

Global logistics engineer

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