Sea Freight Customs Clearance – Less than a Container Load (LCL)

Are you a first-time importer? Do you have an item that you would like to import into Australia but don’t know where to start? The majority of items we customs clear fall into the Sea Freight Less than a Container Load (LCL) category. This means that your items are Less than a Container Load and will share space inside a shipping container with other items on their way to Australia. 

You are free to ask your supplier to ship the goods to Australia on your behalf or you may wish for us to ship the goods to Australia; in that case, we would ask your supplier to deliver your LCL cargo to our depot and then we would place the cargo inside a shipping container and forward the goods to Australia and undertake the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) process before the goods arrive into Australia.


Why use Less Than a Container Load (LCL) Shipping?

Sea freight LCL shipping is the perfect option for shipping small quantities of cargo as your cargo will share space with other cargo to fill a shipping container. Businesses that ship there goods as Less than a Container Load (LCL) usually do so because they may have a pallet, a few pallets or crates and do not have enough cargo to fill their own Full Container Load (FCL).   

How does Less Than a Container Load (LCL) shipping work?

When shipping sea freight, you have the option to either ship your goods via Less than a Container Load (LCL) or a Full Container Load (FCL). As the name implies, LCL shipping is when your goods take up less space than a full 20” or 40” container and will be sharing the container space with other shippers’ goods.

Conversely, FCL shipping is when you have booked an entire container for your own cargo and will not be sharing space with any other shippers’ goods. Because LCL shipments are consolidated with other shippers’ goods, the sea freight rate is less than shipping a whole FCL shipment.

To ship a LCL shipment, your supplier will either deliver the goods to their nominated shipping company overseas or they will deliver the goods to our warehouse overseas so that we can consolidate your cargo with other cargo and ship the goods to Australia.

While the goods are at the warehouse, we may palletise the cargo before packing the cargo inside the container. Once all of the cargo is inside the container, the container will be sealed and then moved to the seaport so that the container can be loaded onto the vessel.

Where is the cargo once it arrives into Australia?

The shipping container will arrive at the seaport, then be unloaded from the vessel and placed on the wharf. The container will then be collected by a freight forwarder, taken to their unpack depot and the goods will be segregated from the other goods; this process can take up to 7 working days.

Once the goods have been segregated, you, your transport company or your customs broker has 3 free days to collect the goods before storage commences  Storage is not cheap, it is generally $40 – $50 per cubic metre per calendar day with a minimum of $200 AUD plus GST for the first day.

Please note that if the DAFF wishes to inspect the goods; the goods will need to be inspected at the unpack depot or at another nominated depot before the goods can be collected.

Compared to FCL shipping, LCL shipping is a more cost-effective solution for smaller shipments. However, it is important to note that LCL shipments can take longer to arrive at your address as they must be de-consolidated. If you are shipping time-sensitive cargo or large quantities of goods, FCL shipping may be a better option for your project.


What we need from you to undertake Platinum® Customs Clearance

In order for us to customs clear your sea freight Less than a Container Load (LCL) shipment, we would require the following paperwork from you:

A commercial invoice for the goods

A commercial invoice for the goods

Authorisation form

Packing List

Air Waybill Document

Bill of Lading

Packing Declaration

Authorisation form

Photos of the Goods Unpackaged

Fumigation Certificate

 [If your goods contain timber or plant material] 


Why Choose Platinum® for Less than a Container Load (LCL) Shipping?

Less than a Container Load (LCL) shipping is a great option for companies that don’t have enough cargo to fill an entire container. LCL shipping is also a good choice for companies that have a few sea freight shipments from different supplier or from different countries.

At Platinum®, we are experts in Less than a Container Load (LCL) shipping. We have a team of experienced professionals who will work with you to assess your shipping needs and determine the best shipping solution for your business. We also provide visibility to be able to monitor and track the progress of your shipment.

Choose Platinum Freight Management for all of your Less than a Container Load (LCL) shipping needs and you’ll be sure to receive the best service possible.


Contact Platinum® Today!

Platinum® is a leading provider of LCL shipping services; we are here to help you move from your shipment from overseas to your nominated address.

We offer competitive rates, efficient service and we’re committed to providing the best possible experience to our customers.

Contact us today to learn more about our LCL shipping services.

SAC Customs Brokers

Frequently Asked Questions

What do mean by container load?

Container loads can either be Full Container Loads (FCL) or Less than a Container Loads (LCL). FCL shipments are those that fill a shipping container completely with your own goods, while LCL shipments are those that will share space with other shippers’ goods.

LCL shipments are typically smaller in volume and are consolidated with other LCL shipments in the same container. Less than a Container Load shipments offer the advantage of being able to ship without having to fill an entire container. As a result, LCL shipping is often used for smaller shipments or for those that are not time-sensitive.

What is the difference between a Less than a Container Load and a Full Container Load?

LCL and FCL are two methods of sea freight shipping. LCL, or Less than Container Load is when multiple shippers’ have their shipments consolidated in the same shipping container.


FCL, or Full Container Load, is when one shipper has an entire container to themselves. LCL is cheaper per cubic meter but takes longer to load and unload because each shipper’s goods must be individually consolidated and de-consolidated.


FCL is more expensive to ship because you have more space at your disposal; FCL shipping is at least one week faster than LCL shipping because the container can be unpacked at your address.


Ultimately, the choice between LCL and FCL shipping depends upon, the kilograms and the cubic metres.

How do you calculate Less than a Container Load?

Less than a Container Load (LCL) shipments are often used when a Full Container Load is not feasible and can be a more cost-effective option for smaller or infrequent shipments. When calculating the cost of an LCL shipment, there are a few factors that need to be taken into account.


First, the dimensions of the shipment need to be determined in order to calculate the volume. Second, the kilograms of the shipment need to be determined. Once the volume and weight is known, a rate will be provided. The rate will vary depending on the origin, destination and the type of cargo being shipped.


In addition, there will be destination port charges in Australia, as well as an insurance premium [if applicable]. In order to receive a detailed estimate of the total costs, it is recommended that you reach out to Platinum®.

Get a Sea Freight LCL Customs Clearance Quote

Complete the form below and we will send you a quote. It’s that simple!

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