Types of Shipments

It is important to understand the different types of shipments that you can choose from when moving internationally.  This topic is covered at length in our WEBINAR.

There are two types of shipments for sending household goods by ocean freight:

  1. Partial Containers:  called Less Than Container Loads (LCL)
  2. Exclusive Containers:  Called Full Container Loads (FCL)


Less than Full Container Loads (LCL) are “consolidations”

Kef packs a container with the belongings of 2-10 people. Goods are crated in wooden boxes or bound on wooden pallets. Each individual has his own shipping documents, and there is a group document as well. When the container arrives at the port, it takes ~ 4-8 days for the container to be unloaded and documents prepared for each of the consignees.   

This is a shipment that is sent together with other shipments, sharing a shipping container.   It is the usual way shipments that don’t require an exclusive container, or  overflow from an exclusivecontainer, or goods left behind are shipped.     If it does not go on the same vessel as the container, it is counted as a separate shipment (another one of 3 for new immigrants, one of 2 for returnees.)     It is more expensive on a per cubic foot basis, both because you have to pay the minimum charges for each stage in the shipping process and because goods are crated or palletized, which adds 15-25% to the billable volume, compared with the net volume inside of an exclusive container.   Typically minimum volume is 150-200 cubic feet, and costs are minimum $1,850.     This can work out to be 1.5-2.0 times the per cubic foot costs in an exclusive container, once you take all the peripheral charges into account.

Exclusive Container:  Full Container Loads (FCL)

Kef hires a container, either a 20 foot long one, or a 40, or an extra high 40, then fills it with your goods and brings it to the ship. In urban areas, it may not be possible to load the container at your house; there could be charges for double handling. For larger containers, packing is done one day, then loading and sealing the next.

The door of the container is closed with a visibly sealed lock. It is easier for the Customs Clearer to see if the seal is intact and to report any irregularity before passing through customs. If there is no customs/security inspection, shuttle, or other special reason,  the seal will remain unbroken until it arrives at your home. Containers can fit large items—such as a car—or unusually shaped items that would otherwise require the construction of a specially shaped crate.

The internal measurements of containers are as follows:

20 foot : L 5.9 m, W 2.35 m, H 2.35, door: W 2.343 m, H 2.278. holds about 1000 cubic feet of packed household goods

40 foot: L 12.0 m, W 2.35 m, H 2.395 m, door: W 2.343 H 2.280.  holds about 2000 cubic feet of packed household goods

Your Volume Estimate

The results of the volume estimate will determine the type of shipment we recommend for you.  At the bottom of the survey report (called a “cubesheet”), there will be a total estimated volume for your shipment . If you are moving from North America to Israel, your volume will be measured in cubic feet.  Remember that for consolidation shipments only (shared containers called “LCL” shipments), you must add about 15%-25% to the estimated volume from the survey report in order to account for the palletizing/crating which must done to prepare for international transport in a shared container.

Be clear if your estimate is Net or Gross.

Net is actual measurements. (This may not be written, but you know it is “net”, if a 1.5 cubic foot box is counted as 1.5 cubic feet).

Gross is billable volume after packing and palletizing or crating–the usable space taken by goods.   Packing adds 15-20% to net;  crating or palletizing  adds 15-25% to that.  Much depends on how goods fit standard pallets and crates.

Get a handle on your volume

thumnail 20' container

Check out these shipment type infographics

Understanding Crating

Packing, crating, and palletization can each add 10-25% to the volume.     Factors that can make the total figure much higher, even over 100% are:

1.  Goods with a wide variety of shapes and sizes can result in large sections of unused space and more settling, as in a cereal box.

2.  Crates under 200 cubic feet have a greater likelihood of unused space, usually at the top. There are fewer options of ways to combine items

3.   Delicate goods need isolation,  often leaving empty space above and around them.     

What are Lift Vans?

Lift vans (lifts) are crates that are not built to the size of goods.    Though crates provide the best security against breakage and loss, they are the least efficient use of space.  If goods do not fit perfectly into available crates, there is more unused space than on pallets.  

Your forwarder might have crates of  75, 150, 200, 220 or 250 cubic feet, though 200 is most common.  Inside measurements of a standard crate are 84” W, 84” H, 45″ D. Externally in meters:  2.2m W x 2.2m H x 1.2m D.  Depending on the forwarder, crates may be standard procedure or by special order.

FCL or LCL? That is the question

Factors that influence the relative costs of shipping in consolidation or in your own container

  1. Where you ship from: the further you are from a major port, the more you save with a container, because consolidations are harder to come by and more expensive.
  2. How much of the container you fill: the fuller it is, the better the value.
  3. How much packing there is: the most expensive part of shipping is not the freight; it’s the packing and loading.


If my volume estimates over a 20 footer, but I think I can eliminate enough to fit into a 20′.  What should I do?

It frequently works out that people are left with additional goods that they wish they could ship.  Think seriously about going with a 40′; the additional costs are usually less than paying for overflow as an LCL. 


Overflow shipments are another container with the goods that did not fit in your original shipment. Only ifyour overflow ships on the same vessel as your container — something you cannot depend on — will it not count as another tax-free shipment.

Overflow is often more expensive than the price jump to a larger container.  The volume rate is often 1.5 times the contract rate with a minimum of 250 cubic feet.   Here is an example:  total container is $10,000 for 2,000 cubic feet, that is $5/cubic foot.  Overflow $5*1.5 =$7.5/cubic foot, with a minimum of 250 cubic feet, in addition to all the one-time fees, another ~$600.