[FAQ] What To Know About Container Freight Stations?


Shipping and trading have been evolving for as long as the industry has existed. But if you are only getting started with trading and shipping, the terminology can be quite confusing. Hence, here’s everything you need to know about what a CFS or a container freight station is and how it is used.

What Is A Container Freight Station?

CFS or a container freight station is a facility for distribution, consolidation, and de-consolidation or import and export shipments. Such stations are an essential component of any supply chain with most of them being located in or around ports and inland distribution cities.

Freight forwarders are usually the ones using CFS companies. However, shippers and third-party logistics service providers do work with them too to handle customer freight. CFS are usually either owned privately or by terminals or shipping lines. 

Because CFS deals with import and export, such stations are usually categorized as either origin CFS or destination CFS which corresponds to the origin and destination points they work with.

Importance of container freight rates:

  • CFS helps decongest ports and terminals.
  • CFS helps clear them of multiple customs clearance procedures.
  • CFS allows for easier tracking by assigning unique identification numbers to vessels.
  • CFS helps maintain records of shipments, including such information as exporter names, importer and customs agents, origin and destination points, cargo details, etc.
  • CFS helps provide better cargo security, efficient loading and unloading, stuffing and de-stuffing, etc.

It’s important to understand that CFS shipping is becoming increasingly popular as it is in demand nowadays thanks to so many companies opting for LCL shipments. E-commerce business owners are also using CFS shipping more as it provides better security above all else.

What Is CFS Shipping?

CFS shipping is the kind of shipping that involves such stations, but it’s important to understand the differences between it and other types of shipping or trading to fully grasp what sets CFS shipping apart.

Container freight stations act as centralized locations for suppliers playing a crucial role both for importing and exporting. Consolidation and deconsolidation of cargo are involved and there are processes executed such as issuing shipping orders, stuffing, sealing, marking, storage, sorting, stacking, and further preparation.

What Is the Difference Between CFS, CY, ICD, and Bonded Warehouse?

Container Yard 

A container yard or CY is a special area in a port where full-container-load or FCL containers are stored prior to or after they are loaded from or onto a ship. For export CY/CY shipments, shippers usually deliver the container to a particular container yard at the port where control over it is handed to the shipping line. Then, the container is delivered to another CY at the port of discharge and the shipper picks it up from the shipping line.

Inland container depot 

Inland container depot or ICD is, much like other terms discussed here, a facility used for handling imported and exported containers. ICDs are found further inland rather than at the ports. Such depots are used by companies to handle shipments closer to the factories and warehouses. ICDs are automated and independent customs stations making it easier for companies to get through all the necessary processes.

Bonded warehouses

Bonded warehouses are spaces authorized by customs to store imported and exported goods – either local or foreign – on which duty payment was already deferred. 

Bonded warehouses help traders avoid any cash flow issues by giving importers time to get the money for duty payment or, alternatively, find buyers for the goods in question.

What Are the Key Benefits & Functions of A CFS?

  • receive and consolidate LCL shipments for export. LCL shipments are consolidated into larger containers with freight shipped to the same destination point, whether it is of one or multiple customers. 
  • They are used to transload IPI containers (of the 20’s, 40’s, and 45’s variety) into 53’ intermodal containers. This allows for more control over the inventory as well as possible cost savings.
  • They are used for a variety of other processes including container load plan preparation, stuffing and de-stuffing, container identification sealing, temporary storage, container movement from CY and laden containers to ports and terminals, stacking, sorting etc.

What Are the CFS Export and Import Processes Like?

The export process involves exporters loading goods on trucks and delivering them to CFS (with a shipping bill). There, goods are unloaded, received by CFS custodians, and then undergo customs clearance. 

The customs authorities endorse the shipping bill and the CFS stuffs the goods into containers. The containers are then sealed and handed to the port or terminal for export.

The import process involves importer agents filing the import general manifest or IGM with details about the cargo, importer, etc. This is done at the port or terminal itself in order to move the cargo to CFS. 

The containers are then forwarded to CFS and the cargo is offloaded, stacked, and de-stuffed. The cargo owner (or clearing agent) files the bill of entry, aids in cargo clearances, and pays duties. Customs endorses the bill of entry and the CFS custodians issue a gate pass for releasing cargo to the importer.

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Source: Global Trade 


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