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Freight from the USA

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LCL means shipping from the USA goods in boxes, crates, and pallets

In respect of international cargo transportation from the USA overseas, LCL is an abbreviation for "Less than Container Load." LCL freight is designed for shipping from the U.S. goods packed in boxes, crates, or stacked on pallets. LCL is a low-cost solution to deliver from the United States cargo that cannot fill an entire 20 or 40-foot sea freight container.

Unlike FCL freightwith LCL, international shippers share space in 40-foot sea freight containers. With LCL, shippers do not need to pick up containers from container yards and load and secure cargo in containers. They are not obligated to pay for the international transportation of entire containers but for the space used in containers only. Upon arrival, containers at destinations, consignees (cargo recipients) do not need to return empty containers to the container yards.

pallet in ocean freight

It doesn't matter whether you ship from the U.S commercial cargo or deliver personal belongings, or move overseas. If the cargo is properly packed in boxes or crates, and the overall volume does not exceed 15-20 cubic meters, then there are many advantages to using LCL freight instead of shipping entire containers.

With LCL, you can ship a relatively large cargo, significantly reducing the cost of transportation:

  • When you share a 40-foot sea freight container with other exporters, you don't pay for the shipping of the entire container but only for the space used in the container. It is obviously more cost-effective compared to shipping an entire container FCL.

  • Typically, international LCL freight rates are calculated by volume (per cubic meter or cubic foot) rather than by weight. The capacity of cargo vessels is not limited to the weight of cargo but by the hold of ships. Most of the time, the weight of cargo shipping LCL is not a pricing factor. Shipping costs in LCL depend on the volume of cargo rather than weight. You may find more about dimensional weight in international cargo transportation from the USA by sea and U.S. domestic ground transportation LTL on our website.

  • If you ship from the U.S. LCL, then you may save on U.S. domestic ground transportation. If you self-deliver your cargo packed in shipping boxes, which can easily fit into your own or rented truck, to a freight terminal, then you eliminate cargo pre-carriage expenses. Costs of cargo transportation within the U.S. are pretty high. The cost to deliver cargo to a freight terminal may even exceed the cost of international ocean freight.

It is flexible:

  • If you self-deliver your cargo packed in loose shipping boxes at an ocean freight shipping terminal (called CFS - Container Freight Station), then your boxes should be professionally palletized at the CFS into one or more skids. By palletizing your boxes, you make them safe for international shipping from the U.S. abroad. It is much easier to handle small and light shipping boxes than carry heavy pallets. You may palletize smaller shipping boxes and request the CFS to ship oversized items loose.
  • With LCL freight, you can ship overseas boxes, crates, or pallets of any size and form. The only limitation is that all shipping units have to fit into a 40-foot sea freight container. The internal dimensions of such a container are:
    Length - 39'5" = 12 meters
    Width - 7'5" = 2.35 meters
    Height - 7'10" = 2.39 meters

  • Shipping goods from the USA that are packed in cardboard shipping boxes comply with ISPM15 regulations that apply to shipping any international freight. You can purchase regular shipping boxes at U-Haul, Walmart, Office Depot, etc. For extra protection, we'd recommend heavy-duty cardboard shipping boxes that are widely available online. Then you palletize your boxes on certified ISPM15 stamped or plastic pallets.

    Please note, if you self-deliver your cargo packed in loose cardboard boxes at a CFS, then the CFS can properly palletize and shrink-wrap your boxes for shipping from the USA overseas for a fee of $35-50 per pallet, including the cost of certified pallet provided by the CFSUse the opportunity. Do not palletize shipping boxes by yourself. Deliver light shipping boxes in CFS and leave the palletizing to professionals. Besides, loose shipping boxes are much easy to handle; the most important is that you transfer responsibilities on ISPM15 compliance to the CFS. Then your shipping boxes should not face any problems related to ISPM15 during international transportation from the USA overseas.


Some restrictions in shipping LCL freight from the USA

No foodstuff, wine & drugs: Shipping from the USA overseas of foodstuffs, including wine and drugs, perishable food items, edible animal byproducts, supplements, etc., are subject to detailed regulations. Violations of these regulations can result in detention, confiscation, or destruction of cargo, as well as fines and civil or criminal charges.

Other restricted commodities in LCL shipping from the U.S. overseas: To avoid problems, extra charges, and penalties, at a time of packing your goods for international transportation, you should stay away from shipping the following commodity:

  • Perishable food products
  • Live animals, plants, and seeds
  • Any medicines and drugs
  • Dangerous and Hazardous Goods are restricted and subject to approval and special procedures.
  • Aerosols
  • Liquids
  • Cash, Money orders, credit and  debit cards
  • Passports and other confidential documents
  • Valuable jewelry, art, and antique
  • To make it easier, avoid sending items that are considered dangerous or prohibited to ship from the U.S. at your local USPS post office.
  • If you're going to ship something that contains a battery (even a dry battery), the entire shipment may be considered a dangerous goods shipment. An example would be the international shipping of an electric lawnmower.
  • If you pack shipping goods into used boxes, then erase all the previous shipping labels. Pay extreme attention to dangerous goods labels.


No motor vehicles with LCL. Shipping motor parts are welcome.

Any motorized vehicle that requires DMV (U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles) registration, such as automobiles, motorcycles, mopeds, jet skis, ATV’s, etc., are not permitted for shipping from the USA LCL. This is because U.S. customs does not recognize any ocean freight carrier's warehouse (CFS) as an exam site for the inspection of motor vehicles.

No cars in LCL sea freight international shipping

However, you can ship from the U.S. LCL vehicles that do not require DMV registration, such as mini-helicopters, snowmobiles, golf vehicles, self-propelled wheelchairs, specialized construction, and special mobile vehicles. International shippers should always check with the U.S. DMV before preparing to ship from the U.S. abroad vehicle, regardless of the mode of transport.
Shipping from the U.S. motor parts LCL is permitted. The typical exception is exporting from the USA used tires.
Please keep in mind that if you ship from the U.S. any parts containing fluids (a motor engine, for example), they should be completely drained. Large and heavy parts should be crated or securely attached to the pallets.

Reading LCL freight rates.

LCL freight rates may be all-inclusive (all-in) or to be subject to surcharges. Rates' surcharges can be a percentage at freight rate or a lump sum added to the freight rate. It can be fuel surcharge, bill of lading fee, palletizing fee, overlength surcharge, dangerous goods surcharge, and many other kinds of surcharges.

Surcharges in freight

Please do not confuse the total shipping cost in freight forwarders' invoices and a freight cost from an ocean freight carrier. According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, ...An Ocean freight forwarder is an individual or company that dispatches shipments from the United States via common carriers and books or otherwise arranges space for those shipments on behalf of shippers. Ocean freight forwarders also prepare and process the documentation and perform related activities pertaining to those shipments... Ocean freight forwarders work on customer service fees.

Freight forwarder fee

Please keep in mind that destination charges are included neither in ocean freight nor in freight forwarders' invoices. Destination charges (sometimes called local charges) occur at the destinations. Therefore they are not considered freight charges.


Avoiding common mistakes in shipping LCL

We have published a separate page, written for inexperienced exporters, with the web link on the very top of each page of our website. Please read it. After the reading, you should be much better prepared for international cargo transportation from the U.S., no matter which company you choose for the shipping. Below is just a part of the explanation.

A. Do not confuse a parcel service with international cargo transportation LCL.

LCL freight is designed for shipping from the USA abroad, a relatively sizable cargo. Do not confuse this international shipping service with parcel services, such as USPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. LCL freight always requires paying a minimum shipping cost, which is typically equal to shipping cargo of a volume of one cubic meter

LCL freight, the same as any other international cargo transportation service, is always subject to destination charges.

If you ship overseas a small cargo, less than 0.25-0.3 cubic meters of the total volume, then it is possible that using an international parcel service would be more cost-effective.


B. Do not confuse LCL freight with international moving companies

Yes, you can most of the time ship household goods or personal belongings from the U.S. overseas with LCL. However, do not confuse LCL freight with international moving companies.

With LCL, all your shipping items must be properly boxed or crated and labeled for shipping.

If you are moving from the United States overseas, you may consider services from international moving companies, where an international moving company assessor should visit you and estimate the cost of shipping your household goods, including packing and moving your goods to an ocean freight carrier. Certain international moving companies may offer you an "all-in" service, including support in the recovery of your shipping household goods and the delivery to "your door" at the destination. Then always clarify with the international moving company whether all charges related to their service overseas are included in the shipping cost or not. You may consider

However, prices from international moving companies are high. Then you may need to search for an alternative. The alternative is the shipping of household goods from the USA overseas with LCL freight.


C. Shippers' responsibilities in shipping commodities and documents

When shipping goods from the U.S. abroad, the shipper should understand that they are responsible for cargo description, the legality of the commodity, and the sufficiency of shipping documents submitted for international shipping.

Ocean freight carrier's bill of lading in international shipping, which is the "title on shipping goods," as a rule, states 'Shipper load and count' and 'Said by the shipper to contain.' That means that the ocean freight carrier and the freight forwarder are NOT responsible for the shipper's information on his/her commodity exporting from the USA.

An international ocean freight forwarder should guide the shipper in the complexity of international shipment procedures. However, it is solely shippers' responsibility to provide all necessary shipping documents related to their international shipping.


D. Storage/demurrage at destinations

Several days before arriving your shipping goods at the destination, your consignee (recipient) should receive a notification from the ocean freight carrier's destination agent in the form of an arrival notice. Typically it will be emailed to the consignee. That's why it is so important to provide a valid email to your bill of lading. Also, they may give a phone call to the consignee. Ensure that the consignee's contact information initially provided in your booking request and transferred to your bill of lading is correct and valid.

The arrival notice should be in an official format and contain an invoice with destination (local) charges breakdown.

As soon as you receive an arrival notice, act promptly. Your free storage time at a destination warehouse (CFS) is limited. Depending on CFS, it varies between 7 to 14 days. After that, storage/demurrage will begin accumulating. It will apply to destination charges and may increase the total destination charges dramatically.

The ocean freight carrier's destination agent should guide the consignee in the complexity of import recovery. However, if, for any reason, the consignee will experience difficulties with their import recovery at the destination, the first they should do is search for a customs broker licensed in the destination country. 

Freight rates calculator online

Statistics on LCL shipping from the USA by AMID Logistics

Sometimes new customers ask, "What country are you shipping to?".

We serve all the countries listed under destinations in our online freight calculator. Here is the most recent statistic by serving countries at 100% of all shipping volume.

Country %
Saudi Arabia 9.05
United Kingdom 6.43
Australia 5.28
Germany 4.61
Singapore 4.25
Italy 3.81
France 3.77
United Arab Emirates 2.14
Netherlands 1.83
Norway 1.83
Spain 1.79
China 1.71
Thailand 1.67
Switzerland 1.63
Sweden 1.63
India 1.51
Japan 1.43
Malaysia 1.35
Sri Lanka 1.35
Czech Republic 1.31
New Zealand 1.23
Ireland 1.23
Israel 1.15
Belgium 1.11
Pakistan 1.11
Kuwait 0.99
South Africa 0.99
Puerto Rico 0.95
Morocco 0.91
Taiwan 0.91
Egypt 0.87
Philippines 0.87
Portugal 0.87
Cambodia 0.83
South Korea 0.79
Austria 0.79
Qatar 0.79
Turkey 0.79
Denmark 0.79
Bulgaria 0.71
Romania 0.71
Peru 0.68
Panama 0.68
Brazil 0.64
Indonesia 0.64
Kenya 0.64
Jordan 0.6
Hungary 0.56
El Salvador 0.56
Poland 0.52
Costa Rica 0.52
Paraguay 0.52
Bahrain 0.48
Fiji 0.48
Serbia 0.48
St. Lucia 0.48
Uganda 0.44
Oman 0.44
Finland 0.4
Jamaica 0.4
Croatia 0.4
Greece 0.4
Bangladesh 0.4
Colombia 0.4
Lithuania 0.36
US Virgin Islands 0.36
Guyana 0.36
Iceland 0.32
Lebanon 0.32
Slovakia 0.32
Dominican Republic 0.32
Tanzania 0.32
Estonia 0.28
Malta 0.28
Honduras 0.28
Botswana 0.28
Slovenia 0.28
Vietnam 0.24
Scotland 0.24
Barbados W.I. 0.24
Algeria 0.24
Mauritius 0.24
Western Samoa 0.24
Latvia 0.24
Venezuela 0.24
Ghana 0.24
Martinique 0.2
Cameroon 0.2
Cyprus 0.2
Nigeria 0.2
Luxemburg 0.2
Chile 0.2
Sierra Leone 0.16
Mozambique 0.16
Papua New Guinea 0.16
Guatemala 0.12
Cayman Islands 0.12
Guadeloupe 0.12
Bolivia 0.12
Ecuador 0.12
Belize 0.12
Myanmar 0.12
Tunisia 0.12
French Polynesia 0.12
Trinidad 0.12
Senegal 0.08
Tonga 0.08
Togo 0.08
Haiti 0.08
St. Maarten 0.08
Grenada 0.08
Ivory Coast 0.08
Djibouti 0.08
Belarus 0.04
Georgia (republic) 0.04
British Virgin Islands 0.04
Suriname 0.04
Brunei 0.04
Guinea 0.04
Yemen 0.04
Cook Islands 0.04
Zambia 0.04

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