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Difference between LCL and Consolidation

Is there a difference between LCL and Consolidation..??

Thank you for this question Radwa..

There are cases where shippers don’t have enough cargo to fill a full container and they have only small parcels..

They deliver these small parcels to the shipping lines Container Freight Station..

These small parcels are known as LCL which stands for Less than Container Load..

The shipping line collects these small parcels and make up a Full Container Load..

LCL cargo by shipping lineIn these cases, although there is a full container load, as the shippers are many, the shipping line would issue their individual bills of lading to the various shippers..

These bills will be the direct line bills of lading and will have a term CFS/CFS mentioned.. This means that the shipping lines responsibility begins at the CFS (Container Freight Station) in port of load and ends at the CFS in port of discharge..

The freight charges for these are charged by the line directly to the shippers in proportion to the amount of cargo they have received from the shipper..

In some countries however, the shipping lines do not offer LCL shipping services and these services are handled by Groupage Operators..

In these countries, the LCL cargo is delivered by the client to a warehouse for packing into a container.. The act of collecting the LCL cargo from the various shippers and packing into a container is known as Consolidation.. The entity that handles such operations are known as Consolidators (Groupage Operators)..

In the case of consolidation cargo, the consolidators issue their House Bills of Lading to the shippers and secure a Master Bill of Lading from the shipping line for the container which is booked with the line as an FCL and which will show them as a shipper on the lines bill of lading..

Groupage or Consolidation CargoDepending on the contract with their customers the House Bill of Lading maybe termed as CFS/CFS or Door to Door.. The consolidators responsibility and delivery terms will depend on these terms mentioned on the bill of lading..

The freight charges for these are charged by the Consolidator to the shippers in proportion to the amount of cargo they have received from the shipper..

You might be also interested in reading or refreshing your mind on below previous posts on this blog..

  1. Container Service Types
  2. Difference in transit time between FCL and LCL cargo to the same destination
  3. What is CY-CY Term in Container Shipping..??

Do shipping lines in your country accept LCL cargoes directly..??

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Thank you for the article.Very informative in view of the evolving nature of the cargo consolidation model.I have a question in regard to the article.Do you consider courier business cargo consolidation? What is your take on air freight that comes in through as palletised cargo but being an aggregation of commodities belonging to different consignees?

  2. Very interesting this article. In a large part of Latin America, loading by LCL is allowed. I am currently looking for a transport line that can take my cargo to Europe, you arrive to Spain?

  3. Dear Hariesh,
    Thank you for your help especially on telex release, bills of lading, demurrage and detention to name but afew
    being new in the industy am gaining a lot and may you be blessed always.

  4. In case of dangerous cargo being loaded also in the consolidation container: who must be the shipper on the DGD? The ‘real’ shipper or the consolidator?

  5. Hello I am very new in freight forwarding field I dont know how start can you please guide me or please tell me which book to refer.

    • Hello Aditya, best thing that I can suggest is that if you are already working with a Freight Forwarder, then learn as much as you can from where you are.. Nothing beats experience and practical knowledge.. For theoretical and technical knowledge there are of course various shipping, freight, logistics and maritime courses you can take to enhance your knowledge or you can always read blogs like this where you can get a lot of information and guidance which you can then use in your work..

  6. Hi, i have a question, I am business implementation manager at a forwarding company and I heard you can issue one house bill of lading for buyers consolidation even when there are multiple suppliers involved . Do you know if this is true ? Is this also the case for shipper consolidation ? Do you have any legal info somewhere stored? as this is very difficult to find.

    Thanks a lot


  7. I visit this site daily just to read and know more about shipping industries since I’m still new in our company and I’m not familiar with those shipping terms that my colleague is using..This blog really helps me a lot. Thank you very much Mr Hariesh Manaadiar for sharing your knowledge to us..Keep up the good work. God bless you.!

  8. As always a great article 🙂

    But I have to say, neither me or my colleages have ever heard about a line having they own consolidated containers. For Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the rest of europe. It is consolidated forwarders you have they own containers and handle stuffing and booking on board vessels.

    But normally that have a long term contract with for example 3 consolidated containers on board the weekly vessel from Hamburg to Alexandria.

    • Thanks for your comment Kristoffer, its quite possible that LCL service is not offered by the shipping lines in Europe.. It depends on the mindset of the lines depending on the market.. For example the very European shipping line Hapag Lloyd doesn’t offer LCL service in Europe, but does in India and Thailand as an example.. So it is possible.. 🙂


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