FCL Container

Many shipping containers

Full Container Load (FCL) is a type of sea freight service that involves the shipping of cargo in large metal containers. In FCL container shipping, all the goods in the container belong solely to one shipper.


Less than Container Load (LCL) shipping is an alternative to FCL shipping. While FCL shipping refers to the usage of one entire container by one shipper, LCL refers to the sharing of a container with other shippers. 

Here are the key differences between FCL and LCL shipping.

Cost of Shipping

FCL shipping generally has a flat rate per container whereas the cost of LCL shipping depends on the volume of space needed. Freight forwarders tend to charge cheaper rates for FCL as this shipping method helps them save on time and resources.

However, LCL may be more cost-effective when shipping a lower volume of goods.

Shipping Time

FCL shipping is typically the preferred choice for time-sensitive shipments. LCL shipping, on the other hand, is more suitable for shipments with flexible delivery dates due to the following reasons. 

LCL shipments could be delayed because they go through different stages of handling before reaching the final destination. The goods also need to be loaded and unloaded each time they reach a transshipment port.

Moreover, the customs clearance process can be much slower because multiple shippers share one container. If one of the shippers provides paperwork with incorrect information, the shipping duration for the entire container will be affected.

Cargo Safety

FCL shipping provides a more secure option compared to its LCL counterpart because you have exclusive use of the container. The container is filled only with your items, minimising the risk of damage or contamination from other goods. You can also check that your goods are properly packaged and palletised before delivery.

However, for low-volume shipments, LCL may be more suitable as the items are tightly packed, reducing the risk of shifting or sliding during transport.

When to Use FCL Containers

There are several factors to consider before deciding whether you should use FCL containers for your shipment. Here are some of the things you should take note of.

Nature of Cargo

The kind of items you are transporting will determine if you need to use FCL containers. Hazardous goods, for instance, cannot be delivered with non-hazardous items or other hazardous materials. As a result, they often require FCL shipping. 


FCL shipping is usually cheaper if your shipment exceeds 10 standard pellets or takes up more than 14m3. If your shipment is between 2 and 13m3, LCL is a better option. In certain situations, goods which occupy less than 2m3 can also be shipped via LCL.

Urgency of Cargo

FCL shipping takes around 3 to 6 weeks. LCL shipping, however, requires a longer time of 6 to 10 weeks. Hence, you should consider using FCL shipping if you need your goods urgently.

Shipping your items via a FCL container may be more cost-effective in some cases. Contact us to learn more about your shipping options.

Shipping Process via FCL Containers

Keen to ship via FCL but unsure about how it works? We have outlined the steps below to help you understand it better.

Step 1: Book a shipment

To begin with, contact a freight forwarder and give them the:

  • Address of destination and origin
  • Departure and arrival date
  • Measurements and weight of your cargo

The freight forwarder will process the relevant paperwork which includes the packing list, invoice, and bill of lading (BoL). 

Depending on the type of goods and your destination, you may need to submit additional documents.

Step 2: Load goods onto the container and transport it to the port

A container will be delivered to your warehouse for you to load your goods. It will be sealed and transported to the origin port once you have completed loading.

Step 3: Clear customs and load container

Customs clearance is necessary before the container can be placed on the ship.

Step 4: Ship the goods

The ship will depart to the destination port after the container is loaded.

Step 5: Arrive at the destination port

The container will be unloaded once it reaches the destination port. Import documents must be produced for customs clearance.

Step 6: Last-mile delivery

After customs clearance, the container will be placed inside a truck and transported to your location. You need to remove the seal, unload the items, and return the container.

The FCL shipping process can be complicated. Contact us to find out how we can support your shipping needs.

Cost of FCL Shipping

Although you are charged a fixed rate for each container used, some factors can influence the costs of FCL shipping.

  • GRIs (General Rate Increases)

In response to demand, carriers may increase the price of containers at the start and middle of every month. 

  • Peak season price spikes

During the peak period, sellers ship greater quantities to ensure they have enough stock to meet the festive season. The peak season for FCL is usually between August to November.

  • Holiday delays

Holidays can affect the demand and price of FCL shipping so make sure you check the calendar. For example, shippers from China should take note of long holidays like the Chinese New Year and Golden Week.

The exact cost of FCL shipping is determined by several factors. Get an accurate quotation by providing us with your shipping details today.

Why Choose Haulx Malaysia?

One-stop solution for all your shipping needs

We provide a wide range of services to cater to all your shipping needs. Other than FCL shipping, we offer services such as warehousing, cargo insurance, customs clearance and trucking.

Efficient routes at competitive prices

We have an extensive network of partners worldwide and this allows us to offer you efficient shipping routes at the most competitive of rates.

Experienced team of highly trained professionals

Having been around since 2006, we have over a decade of experience and can ensure that the services we provide are of the highest standards.

FAQs About FCL Containers and Shipping

FCL containers come in a variety of sizes, the most common ones are:

  • 20 inch
  • 40 inch
  • 40 inch High Cube
  • 45 inch High Cube

Usually, it takes about 3 to 6 weeks for the FCL containers to reach your destination. 

Sometimes, the shipment may be rolled due to overbooking. This means the container cannot be loaded onto the ship it was originally scheduled for. When this happens, your items will take longer to arrive.

Though FCL is widely used, certain types of cargo are prohibited. They include:

  • Inflammable goods (e.g. gas, lighter and petrol)
  • Explosive substances (e.g. fireworks)
  • Batteries made with lithium (e.g. power banks)
  • Liquids (e.g. ink, nail polish)
  • Powder (e.g. chemical pigment)
  • Magnetic items (e.g. motor)
  • Fine art (e.g. antiques)
  • Perishables 
  • Live animals 
  • Medicine

Do note that you may be able to ship some of the items above if you meet the dangerous goods regulations. It is recommended that you review the destination country’s list of prohibited items and laws regarding shipping dangerous goods to determine if you meet the requirements.