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What is the difference between full container shipping and groupage shipping?

When moving abroad to start a new life in a different country, you will probably want to ship your belongings with you. Find out about the shipping options available for transporting your items overseas.

What is the difference between full container shipping and groupage shipping?

When you are planning to ship a large amount of your items overseas, there are a few options available to you. It is vitally important to do some research into each of the options, though, to make sure that you are choosing the most practical and economic type of shipping for your needs.

Let’s take a look into two of the different types of shipping – groupage shipping and full container shipping. Each of these options offers a few different advantages and disadvantages, so it is up to you to determine which one is best for your needs. 

It is recommended that you discuss your moving requirements with your international removal company, as they will have the expertise and experience to advise you on the most appropriate.

For the definitions to the moving terms you may encounter in the organisation of your move abroad, our International Moving Glossary can help.

What is Full Container Shipping?

Full Container Load Shipping, often abbreviated to FCL, is a term that describes ocean freight in which the shipper has the exclusive right to use a lot of multi-modal ocean cargo containers. If you have enough items to ship, it will be most cost effective to charter a 40-foot container that will be able to contain all of your goods. A 40-foot container is usually large enough for a standard 2 bedroom house.

Full Container Load Shipping will usually be the best choice when you are importing items by ocean, but only if you have enough goods that you will be able to fill up the entire container. If not, you will be paying too much and there will be leftover space within the container that is not being used to its full potential. 


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What is Groupage Shipping?

If the goods that you need to ship are not enough to fill an entire load, you could always consider sending them via Groupage Shipping. This type of shipping involves grouping your goods together with others that are travelling to the same destination, so that they can make up full containers. This is also known as consolidation and it is the cheapest and most efficient way to transport goods.

The price of this type of shipping will depend on the size and weight measurements of your airfreight. There is a system that takes the package measurements into account and converts them into a measure of density. You will usually be charged by the cubic metre depending on the weight of your items. These calculations will be made by a freight forwarding specialist who will take the measurements and weight of your shipment and determine the price.  

Some people are worried that their goods are in danger of being damaged if they are shipped with a lot of other freight, but this is not the case. Each and every consignment is handled with care and the shipping companies will be careful not to stack goods on other goods that are fragile.

So which type of shipping is best for your needs? The answer will depend on the volume of items that you need to ship and where they are going to.

For more information about moving your items abroad, see our Guide to International Relocation and Overseas Removals.

page last updated June 2015


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