How much will LCL shipping cost you? How to do the math!


Since the shipping process consists of numerous stages, each contributes to the overall cost of shipping. To calculate the overall LCL cost, you need to incorporate all the stages.

Calculating LCL freight rates

LCL shipping unit charges are largely computed according to package dimensions i.e., the length and width – so, the more space you need, the more you pay. The standard unit charge is USD per CBM (cubic meters). While in some cases charges are based on package weight, for the most part they are based on the higher unit value. The odds of this occurring with LCL cargo is scarce as this shipping method is recommended for smaller loads mainly for its cost effectiveness.

Down to brass tacks. To calculate your shipment CBM, pack it into a cuboidal/cubical package and measure the box’s width, height, and length. For instance, if your merchandise fits into a 3.2 meter-long package of 4 meters high and 3.5 meters wide, the volume is 3.2 X 4 X 3.5 = 44 CBM. Don’t forget to convert all units into meters before multiplying them. It is important to note that LCL shipments are consolidated into 20ft and 40ft uniform containers by all the main shipping companies globally.

Before you’ve packed away your calculator, here are some tips:

  • Find out the inner dimensions of the container to calculate how much space you actually need and whether LCL or FCL is the best option – a 20ft container is not actually 20 feet from the inside.
  • Take pallet dimensions into account: Suppliers provide box dimensions, but you need dimensions including pallets that take up inner space that costs.
  • Fragile goods may need more space and cost more. LCL shippers stack pallets to save space, but if you’re shipping a TV screen you don’t want anything stacked on top of it that makes your load unstackable, meaning your costs will increase as there is less room for other packages in the container.

Price quotes for LCL

When looking to book your LCL, gather quotes from several freight forwarders. The price quotes comprise:

  1. Pickup: Collecting your shipment from a factory or warehouse.
  2. Origin: Loading your shipments onto containers with others or consolidating them at a CFS – Container Freight Station. This is also called container stuffing.
  3. Main leg: Cost of the sea journey. This is the main leg of the shipment but as mentioned, it may not be the most expensive part. Sometimes, CFS charges can be higher as they require manpower and mechanics.
  4. Destination: Upon arrival at the destination country, LCL shipments must stop at a CFS for unstuffing (deconsolidation). Note that the effort of consolidation and deconsolidation also affect LCL shipping delivery times.
  5. Delivery: Moving your goods to the destination warehouse.
  6. Take note: Make sure your freight forwarder reveals all fees in a quote such as if they offer a door-to-door or port-to-door delivery service.

Other considerations

Importers and exporters often deliberate between shipping by LCL or air freight. The answer depends largely on how long you can wait for your goods and how much you are prepared to pay. Air cargo is faster and more expensive. In fact, choosing between LCL and FCL poses the same dilemma – the former is cheaper, but the latter has one destination which means quicker delivery.

The supply chain delays, and chaos of the past months is something to keep in mind if you need your goods as soon as possible and your end-consumers are already displeased. On the flip side, with limited container capacity, such as during seasons where shipping volumes are at a peak, it can be easier to find space for your goods via LCL and therefore faster to receive them.

When calculating your shipment, don’t forget to include import and export duties and taxes. For example, importing into the US requires a Customs Bond (for imports valued at over $2500, or $250 for Chinese goods), Entry Summary (Entry 7501) filing, and ISF filing. These documents involve paying customs import fees, duties & taxes, or other customs activities.

When you have decided that LCL is for you, eezy Freight offers an International Shipping Service tailored to connect LCL (Less than Container Load) shippers with leading carriers ensuring efficient consolidation and space-sharing without lead time delays.

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eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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