In container shipping, you may have heard about FCL and LCL. FCL refers to Full Container Load and LCL refers to Less than Container Load.
FCL is usually one shipper and one consignee in the same container whereas LCL will have multiple shippers and multiple consignees in the same container.
CFS (Container Freight Station) refers to a warehouse where goods belonging to various exporters or importers are consolidated (grouped) or deconsolidated (degrouped) before being exported or after being imported.
Depending on whether it is an LCL shipment or Groupage shipment, the Container Freight Station maybe operated by a shipping line or a groupage operator.
In certain countries shipping lines offer LCL services themselves which means they operate either their own CFS or utilize a 3rd party CFS. The Groupage Operators usually have their own CFS for the receiving, storage and packing of the goods.
How It Works
Customers will deliver cargo to the nominated CFS for packing in the case of exports or pick up cargo from the nominated CFS after unpacking in the case of imports.
The Container Freight Station will consolidate all cargoes going to a specific destination and pack all those cargoes into one container going to that destination. So if there are ten LCL shipments going to Singapore from different customers, the CFS will pack all those ten shipments into a single 20’ or 40’ container depending on the volume and ship it to Singapore.
In the case of LCL shipments, bills of lading issued will be the lines bill of lading and will have the term CFS/CFS mentioned on the bill. This means that the shipping line’s responsibility begins at the CFS at the port of load and ends at the CFS at the port of discharge.
In the case of Groupage shipments, bills of lading issued will be the House Bill of Lading of the consolidator and will also have the term CFS/CFS mentioned. This means that the Groupage operator’s responsibility begins at the CFS at the port of load and ends at the CFS at the port of discharge.
In the case of Groupage shipment, the shipping line’s master bill of lading to the groupage operator will be a CY/CY bill of lading.
Some shipping lines do still handle LCL cargoes, and in some cases, the shipping line may issue bills carrying the notation CY/CFS or CFS/CY which means
- CY/CFS – One FCL shipper => Multiple LCL consignees
- CFS/CY – Multiple LCL shippers => One FCL consignee