Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading


CFS/CFS (Container Freight Station to Container Freight Station) is a shipping term that refers to the movement of goods between two container freight stations, one at the origin and the other at the destination. This method is commonly used for Less than Container Load (LCL) shipments where cargo from multiple shippers is consolidated into a single container at the origin CFS and then deconsolidated at the destination CFS.

Detailed Overview of CFS/CFS in Shipping

What is CFS/CFS in Shipping?

CFS/CFS is a shipping term indicating that the cargo will be handled at a Container Freight Station both at the origin and the destination. It involves the consolidation of multiple LCL shipments into one container at the origin CFS, and upon arrival, the container is taken to the destination CFS where the shipments are deconsolidated and delivered to the respective consignees.

Key Processes Involved in CFS/CFS Shipping

1. Cargo Receipt and Consolidation at Origin CFS:

Receipt: Individual shipments from multiple shippers are received at the origin CFS.
Inspection and Documentation: Cargo is inspected, and necessary documentation is prepared.
Consolidation: Multiple LCL shipments are consolidated into one container.

2. Transportation:

Loading: The consolidated container is loaded onto a ship for transport to the destination.
Sea Freight: The container is transported by sea from the origin port to the destination port.

3. Deconsolidation at Destination CFS:

Unloading: Upon arrival at the destination port, the container is transported to the destination CFS.
Inspection and Documentation: Cargo is inspected, and necessary customs clearance procedures are carried out.
Deconsolidation: The container is opened, and individual shipments are separated.

4. Final Delivery:

Distribution: The deconsolidated shipments are delivered to their respective consignees.

Advantages of CFS/CFS Shipping

1. Cost Efficiency:

Shared Container Space: Shippers can share container space, reducing costs compared to Full Container Load (FCL) shipments.
Reduced Freight Costs: By consolidating shipments, shippers can benefit from lower freight rates.

2. Flexibility:

Small Shipments: Suitable for shippers with smaller consignments who do not have enough cargo to fill an entire container.
Frequent Shipments: Allows for more frequent shipments without the need to wait for enough cargo to fill a container.

3. Simplified Documentation:

Centralized Handling: Documentation and customs clearance can be handled centrally at the CFS, streamlining the process.

4. Enhanced Security:

CFS Handling: CFS facilities typically have security measures in place to protect cargo from theft and damage.

Disadvantages of CFS/CFS Shipping

1. Potential Delays:

Consolidation and Deconsolidation: The processes of consolidating and deconsolidating cargo can introduce delays.
Multiple Handling: Increased handling of cargo can lead to potential delays and increased risk of damage.

2. Additional Costs:

Handling Fees: CFS facilities may charge handling fees, which can add to the overall cost of shipping.
Storage Fees: Storage fees may apply if cargo is held at the CFS for extended periods.

3. Complex Coordination:

Multiple Shipments: Coordinating multiple shipments from different shippers can be complex and requires effective communication.

Practical Implications for Businesses

1. Optimized Shipping Costs:

Businesses can benefit from lower shipping costs by sharing container space with other shippers.

2. Improved Supply Chain Flexibility:

CFS/CFS shipping allows businesses to ship smaller quantities more frequently, enhancing supply chain flexibility.

3. Efficient Customs Clearance:

Centralized customs clearance at CFS facilities can expedite the clearance process and reduce delays.

4. Enhanced Security Measures:

Businesses can take advantage of the security measures in place at CFS facilities to protect their cargo.

Example Scenario

Consider a company in China exporting electronics to multiple retailers in the United States. Using the CFS/CFS method, the company can consolidate its small shipments from various production units at a CFS in China. The consolidated container is then shipped to a CFS in the United States. Upon arrival, the container is deconsolidated, and the individual shipments are distributed to the respective retailers. This method allows the company to benefit from reduced shipping costs, efficient customs clearance, and timely delivery of goods.


CFS/CFS (Container Freight Station to Container Freight Station) is a practical and cost-effective shipping method for businesses with smaller consignments. It offers flexibility, cost efficiency, and streamlined documentation processes, making it an attractive option for shippers engaged in global trade. Despite potential delays and additional costs associated with handling and storage, the benefits of using CFS/CFS for LCL shipments often outweigh the drawbacks, providing a reliable solution for efficient cargo management and distribution.