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Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping
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Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping

January 4, 2023
Last Updated:
July 23, 2023
5 min read

Are you looking to ship a full container load? ✔️Here's everything you need to know about FCL shipping, from what it is to price quotes and how to get started.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping

Table of Contents

Are you looking for a secure, cost-effective, and efficient way to transport large quantities of goods?

Full Container Load (FCL) shipping is the answer.

Let’s take a closer look at what FCL shipping entails, from costs to transit times, and understand why it is a top choice for many businesses.

What Is Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping?

Full Container Load (FCL) shipping is a type of freight shipping method used to transport large amounts of goods that fill up an entire container. Therefore, they benefit from lower shipping costs than other freight delivery methods.

The load is sealed in the container and not handled until it reaches its destination, making FCL shipments more secure than alternative options. Additionally, FCL shipments typically take less time than other methods due to their port-to-port delivery and ability to skip intermediate warehousing stops.

Full Container Load (FCL) vs Less Than Container Load (LCL)

FCL Shipping Costs

FCL shipping costs provide stability and reliability that are hard to come by in other forms of shipping options. This is because they provide a flat fee per container regardless of what is being shipped within it, making it easier to plan budgets and timelines accordingly.

Once your shipment reaches around 15 cubic meters, it may no longer make financial sense to ship Less Than Container Load (LCL) — the cost per unit shipped is significantly higher than with FCL.

However, container rates fluctuate based on current supply and demand, an innate law of economics that's recently found itself in the public spotlight due to the sudden spike in container rates in 2020.

This fluctuation can be attributed to a variety of factors, including:

  • General Rate Increases (GRI) — carriers periodically adjust their pricing to compensate for rising demand
  • Availability — peak season spikes and lingering demand can make containers difficult to find
  • Holiday delays — delays during the holiday season can push back shipments and increase costs

What Does an FCL Price Quote Include?

When it comes to FCL shipping, it's essential to be aware of what your quote includes.

FCL prices typically include the following:

  • Pickup and delivery from your warehouse
  • Terminal handling charges at both the port of origin and destination
  • Ocean freight
  • Delivery to the final destination

Additional Charges With FCL Shipping

On top of the main cost segments outlined above, there are extra fees that you may need to pay:

  • BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor) — a fuel surcharge that carriers impose to compensate for rising fuel costs
  • Demurrage and detention charges — fees imposed due to delays in loading and unloading
  • Port congestion charges — additional costs incurred due to delays in cargo handling and storage
  • CAF (Currency Adjustment Factor) — a currency surcharge to account for large fluctuations in currency exchange rates between two countries during shipment transit times
  • Customs duties and taxes
  • Documentation expenses — any costs associated with preparing documents for international trade transactions, such as commercial invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, etc

How Long Does FCL Take?

FCL transit time is calculated based on a number of factors including the origin and destination ports, the type of vessel used, the carrier chosen by the shipper, as well as any port delays due to customs inspections or bad weather conditions.

Shippers should also account for additional time needed at both ends before and after pick-up or delivery due to paperwork processing and pre-carriage activities. On average, it can take anywhere from three weeks to 45 days for an FCL shipment from door to door.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of FCL Shipping

Benefits of FCL Shipping

  • Cost savings due to consolidated freight rates
  • Lower price per unit for larger shipments
  • Improved efficiency with fewer handling points and faster transit times
  • Greater flexibility in terms of size, weight, and volume for cargo loads
  • Enhanced security as the container is sealed during transport
  • Reduced risk of damage or loss since goods are packed securely in one container

Drawbacks of FCL Shipping

  • Higher shipping costs for smaller cargo loads
  • Increased warehousing costs due to larger shipments
  • The need for better coordination and planning since you're handling larger shipments
  • Requires investment in personnel and equipment to manage larger shipments efficiently

How to Track an FCL Shipment?

Tracking an FCL shipment is easy and straightforward. Most freight forwarders provide a tracking system for their customers. Usually, you will be able to track your shipment through their web portal.

However, if you're using multiple carriers, the process of tracking your containers can get a bit complicated. In such cases, you can use Cargoflip, a real-time tracking system that allows you to track your shipment at any stage of the journey, giving you peace of mind that your goods are always safe and secure.

A Seamless Logistics Experience With FCL Shipping

FCL shipping is an ideal solution for businesses needing to move large shipments quickly and safely.

With its cost-saving benefits, increased efficiency, improved security measures, and easier tracking, FCL freight offers a seamless logistics experience. Of course, it also depends on the type of container you'll choose.

However, before deciding whether FCL is the right choice for your business, compare it with LCL shipping and other available delivery options to get the best shipping solution for your needs.

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