Types of Shipments

Choose the right type of shipment for your move

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

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




Overflow shipments are another container with the goods that did not fit in your original shipment. Only if your 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 always  more expensive than the price jump to a larger container.  So if you are close to having a full 20′, go to a 40′.  If you are anywhere near a full 40′, ask for a 40′ HC (no additional cost, except for additional volume of goods).


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, then another ~3-6 days to deliver.

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 exclusive container, 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.)

Why are LCL’s so much more expensive on a per cubic foot basis than FCL’s?

  1.   economies of scale.   The more you ship, the lower the rate per cubic foot.
  2.   the smaller the shipment, the higher portion of the total bill goes towards paying one-time fees–documents, clearing, port fees, delivery, etc.
  3.   it is more difficult to pack differently shaped goods in a smaller space, like on a pallet or in a crate/liftvan, than in a larger space.  Fewer possible configurations.
  4.   whereas in an exclusive container, your goods are packed with the assumption that the container will not be opened or unloaded until they arrive at your home, LCL’s are packed with the understanding that they will be unloaded at the port, before being delivered to you.   Because of the poor conditions at the ports–disorder, moisture and leaky roofs, tremendous diesel dust pollution–they must be either crated or palletized to prevent damage and loss.  (There are some companies that offer much cheaper prices, because they don’t do that!).   The packing in crates, liftvans, and/or on pallets secured and surrounded by plastic wrap, adds volume to your goods.  Also when combining LCL’s into a large, consolidated container, the average volume that can be loaded is about 23% less than can be loaded in an exclusive container.

Typically minimum volume is 150-250 cubic feet, and minimum costs are $2500-3500.    This can work out to be 2-3 times HIGHER  per cubic foot costs than in an exclusive container.


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.



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 liklihood 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.

Lift Vans 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.

Click the blue words for, “Why be careful about sharing space when shipping to Israel?”

Get a handle on your volume

Check out these shipment type infographics


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.

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