What is FCL?

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What is FCL?

‘FCL,’ or ‘full container load,’ refers to a term used in the transfer of goods through steel containers.  Most people use FCL when describing the transfer of cargo through ships, but this particular term may also be applied to cargo that is transported through trucks or trains.  A particular cargo is considered an FCL type of cargo when the load is able to reach a maximum weight for a specified container’s dimensions.  Most of the time, the steel container will literally be full with a load and no extra space for other cargo or materials.  In the real sense, though, a container may be labeled as FCL even if there is extra space involved as long as the maximum weight is reached.

Cargo that is labeled FCL is also restricted in terms of the consignee.  Only one consignee is allowed for every full container load of cargo.  This means that if the maximum weight is reached for a particular container, and even if there is still more space inside, no other items may be included if these items are intended for another consignee.  With this restriction, FCL-type cargo typically have lower freight rates when compared to cargo that are designated for multiple consignees.  In this latter case, various cargo items may also have various consignees.  In the past, this case is labeled as ‘LCL,’ or ‘less than container load.’  At present, though, LCL literally refers to cargo that is not able to fill the entire space of a particular steel container.

FCL is one of several ISO standards when it comes to container loading.  With ISO standards, there are specific dimensions when it comes to the steel container.  Corresponding load amounts or weights are also specified based on this particular international standard. ISO standard lengths include containers that measure 20 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet, and 53 feet.  These specifications also have corresponding maximum loads or gross mass.

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