Common Freight Forwarding & Shipping Terms

This page is a work in progress, and we’re always adding to this!

FCL – Full Container Load

What does FCL mean? A 20 or 40′ container of goods under one bill of lading for one customer. Almost always the most economical way to ship by volume.


LCL – Less than Container Load

What does LCL mean? Also known as “consolidation” or “groupage.” When you ship LCL you are sharing space in a container with other shippers. LCL is often used when you want the cost benefits of ocean freight container shipping, but don’t have enough goods to fill your own.

Project Cargo

Large, heavy, critical, or unusual components or pieces necessary for the completion of projects. Project cargo can be shipped nationally or internationally, and requires extra planning and engineering in order to ship successfully.

Air Freight

Cargo shipping on airplanes. Air freight is the fastest and most agile method of international shipping and sometimes for domestic as well. Airlines have dedicated cargo planes and cargo will often hitch a ride on passenger planes too. By volume, air freight tends to be more expensive than sea freight, but is an excellent choice when time is important or you don’t have enough cargo to justify shipping by ocean.

Bill of Lading

Basically, a cargo receipt that serves 3 purposes:

receipt for freight services and goods

contract between the carrier and shipper

proof of ownership of goods