everything to know about air and ocean freight consolidation services

As an experienced freight forwarder, we understand the needs of the common shipper are ever-changing. What never seems to change is the need to move goods efficiently in terms of both shipping speed and cost. At ETC International Freight System we take these needs seriously.

Every week we see a great variety of commercial goods, vehicles, and household shipments shipped to and from world destinations. Believe it or not, they all have something in common. The shipment is part of a consolidation service for less than a container load (LCL) and will benefit in both cost and time from a consolidation method of shipping.

What to Know about Ocean Freight Consolidation

When shipping via Ocean freight, the typical consolidated shipment starts a 1 cubic meter (CBM) converts to 35.3145 cubic feet (CFT.) Those shipments can be as large as 8 to 15 CBM. Although, to determine the savings from consolidating versus using a 20’ or 40’ ocean container (full Container Load, FCL), your international freight forwarders will need to know your weight, volume and the rate per CBM before assessing if it warrants a consolidation service.

Your shipping company will have to factor in the cost of an exclusive container to validate the choice for a consolidation service, which will vary with each origin and destination. Shippers should make sure they are very clear on their incoterms (freight terms). The incoterms on your shipment will dictate your shipping responsibility and who will pay for the freight, terminal/port charges, customs clearance, duty, tax, and door delivery.

So, all of the above becomes an integral part of the decision to ship to and from international destination or origin using LCL (consolidating) or FCL (straight load). Conversing with your preferred international freight forwarder / shipping company will elucidate any dark matter on the subject.

Want to learn more about Incoterms? Click HERE


Shippers shipping via ocean freight consolidation provide the commercial invoice and the packing list. The Non Vessel Common Carrier (NVOCC) is usually a contract holder of space from the carriers who sell the space at wholesale cost to you at a lower pricing than a general tariff. ETC International Freight System is an NVOCC and a licensed freight forwarder.

Your shipping outfit will provide the shipper of a consolidation service with a house bill of lading (HBL) to reflect your shipment description, weight, volume, HS code number, and sailing and consignee information.

Other information about the overseas agent involved in retrieving the entire consolidation will appear on your HBL. A Master bill of lading (MBL) reflecting agent to agent, container number, seal number, vessel info ETD / ETA and more will be dispatched and most likely on an express release fashion (No original needed). On import, you will need the importer security filing (ISF) days prior to the sailing date. US Customs will penalize importers trying to clear without the ISF.


What to Know about Air Freight Consolidation

45 kilos (99.2 lbs) is the minimum weight required to be placed into an air freight consolidation. Like the ocean consolidated service, a great variety of shipments are gathered, weighed, and measured before flying to a common destination destined to an agent representing your local forwarders. As with ocean freight consolidation, it is important for shippers to be aware of your incoterms!


Like with ocean freight consolidation, with air freight consolidation, shippers provide the commercial invoice and the packing list. For details on filling out your commercial invoice or packing list contact your freight forwarder who will give you templates and a quick rundown of what will need to appear. Again, you access a consolidation with a pool of shipments outside the general IATA tariff. I like to use wholesale pricing to grasp the advantage over an IATA tariff.

Your international forwarder provides the shipper using a consolidation service a house airway bill (HAWB) to reflect your shipment description, weight, volume, HS code number, flight, and consignee information. Other information about the overseas agent involved in retrieving the entire consolidation will appear on your HAWB.

A Master airway bill (MAWB) reflecting agent to agent with vessel, flight details and info, ETD / ETA. The fun does not stop here! Depending on your Incoterms (freight terms), you might be responsible for the destination fees.

Packing & Customs

It’s worth mentioning again that packing for a consolidation becomes even more important. Seek quality packing and have all your documents in order. When in doubt, please contact your freight forwarder for guidance.

Remember that if you have 10 shipments in one consolidation, the error of one shipper may affect the whole of the shipments compromising the goods of many shippers. Customs do random inspections and at various degrees (X-ray versus extensive exam) with costs that will be pro-rated based on the weight and volume of your shipment.

Click HERE to learn more about ETC’s Packing Services

At ETC International Freight System, each shipment is reviewed thoroughly, we make a point to address each step of the process and if necessary, guide you to maximize a good shipping experience.

So, regardless of whether you’re shipping several full container loads or just a small shipment on consolidation, we’ll give you the same personalized experience from origin to delivery.

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