Difference between FCL and LCL

FCL and LCL are two modes of shipment containers. FCL refers to full container load, and LCL refers to less than container load. FCL or Full container load is a shipment that occupies the entire container space to keep the goods. In contrast, LCL or less container load is a shipment which contains some portion of the container to keep the goods. At the same time, the other portion of the container may belong to another shipper. In other words, FCL is a container utilised to contain a single consignee, and LCL is a container used to contain multiple consignees. FCL and LCL are used in international logistics. An individual may buy marine insurance or transit insurance to get the goods insured held under FCL or LCL.

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Difference between FCL and LCL

Let us discuss the difference between FCL and LCL to understand more about these two modes.

Volume of Shipment

The difference between FCL and LCL can be clearly understood on the basis of shipment volume. Shipment volume is the capacity of the container. The shipment volume is usually measured in Cubic Meters (CBM). The LCL can be used for the shipment of one CBM or less. If the weight of the goods is one CBM or less, then the charges would be payable as per one CBM. Hence, it is advisable for the customer to check for an aerial alternative if the weight of the chargeable good is less than 300kg.

FCL may cost less if the goods occupy 15 CBM or more. Hence, it is beneficial for the customer to book FCL if the weight of the load exceeds 15 CBM.

Delivery Speed

The difference between FCL and LCL can further be comprehended on the ground of delivery speed.

LCL at least takes four or more days to deliver the goods. LCL requires additional days in order to unload, sort and deconsolidation of consignment. Further, if the customs department asked for one consignment contained in the LCL for the purpose of inspection, the entire container is supposed to be put on hold. Hence, the customs department may place the whole container on the depository unless the assessment of the selected consignment is accomplished.

In contrast, FCL takes less time than LCL. It is because the consignment in FCL containers is unloaded and delivered to the destination. Hence, it is more efficient than LCL.

Damage and Security

LCL posses a higher risk of theft, loss or damages to the goods as the containers of LCL are shared with other shipments. However, marine insurance may be availed in order to claim losses.

FCL possess low risk as the vessel takes a direct route to deliver the consignee. However, transit insurance may be purchased for the indemnification of shipment.

Case Study

In Seahorse Shipping And Shipmanagement Private Ltd v. The Board of Trustees For The Port, the Calcutta High Court held that even if the customs authorities have cleared the imported goods, the streamer agent cannot be held liable to pay the storage charges for the period when the goods have remained in the port area. In this case, the goods remained in the port area because the consignee could not furnish any interest for the authorization of the goods.

Conclusion

The difference between FCL and LCL are plenty and each has its own merits or demerits. In some circumstances, FCL is beneficial, while in other events, booking of LCL seems more practical. There is also an apprehension of damages to the goods. However, an insured may buy marine insurance or transit insurance for the coverage of losses.

Written By: PolicyBazaar - Updated: 10 January 2023