Containerization and Choosing the Best Container Service Type

If you take a bill of lading document when you are dealing with sea freight for your shipments, you will find terms such as FCL/FCL or LCL/FLC to name a few. These are the basis of container service types available in the market when it comes to maritime logistics.

In our previous blog, we looked at Consol Boxes which essentially are cargo sent via LCL shipping where different shipments are grouped together and loaded into one container by a consolidator who is someone other than the shipping line. The main difference between LCL and consol boxes is the party who loads the shipments.

Container Service Types – Full Container Load

Full Container Loading shipping is also abbreviated as FCL cargo, whereby one single customer is loaded onto one single container which will be utilized exclusively by that said customer.

There are many conveniences when choosing FCL out of the other container service types available for sea freight. The container (be it a 20ft or 40ft container size) will be sent to the customer’s origin address and the cargo will be methodically loaded. Similarly The container will be sent to the destination address for unloading. Usually, with FCL container service types, the client undertakes responsibility and liability for the packing and condition of the cargo.

Container Service Type – Less than Container Load

Less than Container Load as we have detailed in the blog before, involves the process of grouping together shipments from different shippers or consignees into one cargo shipment. The process involves clients transporting their cargo to the Container Freight Station which is the lines packing point, and the cargo is then packed by the shipping line on behalf of the client.

With this container service type, the shipping line takes on the responsibility as well as the liability for the cargo in terms of packing and delivery. But it should be noted that the LCL container service type is not a facility that is available in all countries around the world.

Container Service Type – Groupage

The Groupage container service type may be very similar to that of the LCL container service where the only difference would be that the cargo is controlled by a Groupage operator. How this is done is simple; the groupage operator will book the container (be it a 20ft or 40ft sized container) based on the sizing need. Once the cargo is packed, the groupage operator will issue their own House Bills to the clientele and collect from the shipping line a Master Bill of Lading.


A point that should be kept in mind when considering these container service types for your next cargo shipment, is that the following Terms of Shipment in container shipment are possible indicating how the cargo is packed.

  • FCL/FCL – One Shipper to One Consignee
  • FCL/LCL – One Shipper to Multiple Consignee
  • LCL/FCL – Multiple Shippers to Single Consignee
  • LCL/LCL – from Multiple Shippers to Multiple Consignees

Apart from the above Terms of Shipment, there are also Delivery Terms such as the following to indicate where the responsibility of the carrier/customer starts and/or ceases.

  • CY/CY – Container Yard/Container Yard
  • CY/CFS – Container Yard/ Container Freight Station
  • CFS/CY – Container Freight Station/Container Yard

CFS/CFS – Container Freight Station/ Container Freight Station