Key facts about LCL shipping

If you are looking to ship a small volume of goods regularly, have no fear. In this article, we discuss and explain a few key facts relating to LCL shipping that shippers and companies should know before transporting their cargo overseas. For those interested in this topic, be sure to read on to learn more.

What is LCL shipping?

LCL stands for less-than-container load and is an international ISO (International Organization for Standardization) freight shipping term used to refer to container loads that are filled by multiple shipments or orders. For instance, a shipper may be looking to transport a small account of cargo by a container. In that case, instead of completely renting out an entire container exclusively, it may be more cost-effective for them to merge the delivery with other shippers with small orders. The idea is to fill up an entire container by grouping different items together instead.

It is perfect for shipping small volumes

As mentioned above, LCL is basically container sharing your goods with other people’s shipments, instead of exclusively using the entire space yourself. The individual consignments are consolidated at the departure port, and the container is shipped to its destination port. On arrival, the shipment is split back into its original consignments in order for them to be delivered to its final destination. For a small or medium-sized business that may not have enough goods to fill an entire container, LCL may be a perfect shipping option for them to consider.

You can save money

LCL shipments are sometimes known or referred to as a stopgap solution. That said, it is often a more economical option for a lot of the time. This is because LCL allows businesses and shippers to save on freight costs as the cargo is transported at a lower cost. Shipping smaller volumes also means shippers need to spend less on storage space, which means lower risks, and quicker inventory turnover. All of these factors definitely impact financial results, which means if used correctly, they can help shippers save money when moving goods.

LCL is flexible for on-demand production

Currently, most production lines are leaning more towards an on-demand approach. This means that on the whole, product lifecycles tend to be shorter, and warehousing and storage spaces are less readily available for use. In response to keeping up with consumers’ rapidly changing demand, stock levels are often kept to a minimum now. As such, LCL is often seen as a flexible solution that goes hand in hand with the modern on-demand production approach.

LCL is more environmentally friendly

Nowadays, more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of how their purchases or business practices are affecting the environment we live in. This also affects the shipping process. For instance, right now, there is an overcapacity in the container segment, meaning that empty containers sometimes get shipped overseas. However, shipping empty containers is extremely wasteful and not eco-friendly. As such, sharing spaces in a single container by using LCL helps to contribute to a greener environment, as this means the containers are completely filled and there are lower emissions because all cargo is sharing the same space.

LCL is better for time-critical cargo

LCL shipping is used across and in almost all industries and businesses – this is because you can ship any kind of cargo. The reason companies use LCL is because they tend to have a smaller volume of goods that need to be transported regularly overseas. However, they may not have the time to wait until their goods fit an entire container space. As such, LCL is a shipping option that allows them to ship their time-critical goods without having to wait until a shipping container is completely filled with their shipments and good to go.

Documents required for shipping LCL

When it comes to shipping LCL, there are a few documents that shippers need to prepare before their shipments are able to be transported. Here are a few of the documents needed listed below. In general, they are:

  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Insurance certificate
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Dangerous Cargo certificate (if needed)

Packing requirement

On the whole, LCL shipments need more care while packing and labeling them. This is because they are moved together with several other small shipments. So, unless the packing is durable, there is a larger chance of the goods being damaged during transportation.

Normally, cartons that are made out of corrugated cardboard are usually used to pack cargo. However, depending on the nature of the cargo, there may also be shockproof packaging materials such as packaging cushions, bubble films, and more in order to help keep the cargo safe.

These packed cartons are often stocked on wooden pallets following the shippers’ instructions on the HI/TI.


Pallets are typically made of wood. Plastics or recycled materials are also used these days when it comes to manufacturing and producing them. A pallet is a small platform where goods and containers can be stacked upon neatly. They are then shrink-wrapped — using a plastic stretch film – in order to make them more secure for transportation. Other than helping to hold the cargo together, shrink wrapping can also help to protect goods from accidental spillage, whether it be liquids or moisture. As such, pallets typically make packing, handling, and transport of small cargo a lot more secure and orderly.

The two most common pallet models used in LCL are the Standard wooden pallets and Euro pallets. The standard wooden pallets typically measure 48” x 40”, while the Euro pallet has a dimension of 47.24” x 39.37”. While there are several other pallet types available, the ISO has limited the different sizes to 5 to avoid ambiguity and confusion. A standard pallet can roughly hold about 1,000 kg or 1.8 cubic meters (CBM).

What is HI/TI?

HI/TI is commonly seen in logistics when it comes to configuring pallets. In some places, it is known as TI/HI instead. This indicates the number of cartons that can be stacked and layered safely on a pallet. HI means the number of layers of cartons on a pallet, while TI means the number of cartons on each layer. HI is also the height of the pallet in tiers of layers, while TI is the number of cartons per layer or tier.

This symbol is critical for showcasing how stable the pallet is. It should be followed to the letter when building a pallet load.

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