There are two ways to ship household goods on boats:

  1. Full Container Loads (FCL)
  2. Less than Full Container Loads (LCL)

Full Container Loads

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–see the section immediately below this one.  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) or “consolidation”

This is the kind of shipment you use when–either because that’s all you have to send, or you left goods behind, or your exclusive container has overflow– you need to ship less than a (mostly) full container.   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.

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.


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?”


How quickly do you need to clear a container?

Containers must be cleared and delivered within two days of arrival in Israel. After that time, container rental and port storage fees add up at a rate of between $25-110/day for rental of the container and port fees. See the chart in the storage section below.

Once you could purchase and ship your own container—no more.

The steamship lines now only ship containers that they own.

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.