(From the ARRL Handbook)
A QSL card (or just “QSL”) is an Amateur Radio tradition. QSL cards are nearly
as old as Amateur Radio itself, and the practice has spread so that short-wave
listeners (SWLs) can get cards from shortwave and AM broadcast stations. Most
amateurs have printed QSL cards. QSL card printers usually have several
standard layouts from which to choose. Some offer customized designs at extra
cost. If you are just starting out, or anticipate changing your call sign (just think,
you could get a call like “KC4WZK”), you may want to purchase a pack of
“generic” QSL cards available from many ham stores and mail-order outlets.
Filling Out Your Cards
QSL cards must have certain information for them to be usable for award
qualification. At a minimum, the card must have:
• Your call sign, street address, city, state or province and country. This
information should be preprinted on one side of your QSL card.
• The call of the station worked.
• The date and time (in UTC) of the contact.
• The signal report.
• The band and mode used for the contact.
Awards for VHF and UHF operations may also require the grid locator (or “grid
square”) in which your station is located. Current practice is to include your 6-
digit grid square on your QSL card even if you have no plans to operate VHF and
UHF, since some HF competitions and awards require your grid square
Many hams provide additional information on their QSL cards such as the
equipment and antennas used during the contact, power levels, former calls and
Sending and Receiving Domestic QSLs
Although most QSL cards can be sent as post cards within the United States,
usually saving some postage costs, post card style QSL cards often arrive with
multiple cancellations and other unintended markings that can obscure or
obliterate the printed and written information. It is best to send all QSL cards in a
protective envelope. Back when postage was cheap, you could send out 100
post cards for a few dollars and domestic stations would send QSLs as a matter
of course. Currently, if you really need a particular QSL, it is best to send a
selfaddressed stamped envelope along with your card. QSLing for DX stations is
somewhat more involved and is discussed elsewhere in this chapter.
How-to’s of DXCC — Direct QSLs and DX Bureaus
Since DX stations are often inundated with QSL cards (and QSL requests) from
US hams, it is financially impossible for most of them to pay for the return
postage. Hams have hit upon several ways to lighten the load on popular DX
The fastest, but most expensive, way to get QSL cards is the direct approach.
You send your QSL card, with one or two International Reply Coupons (IRCs) or
one or two dollars and a self-addressed airmail envelope to the DX station.
International Reply Coupons are available from your local post office and can be
used nearly anywhere in the world for return postage. Some DX hams prefer
that you send one or two “green stamps” (dollar bills) because they can be used
to defray posting, printing and other expenses. However, it is illegal in some
countries to possess foreign currency. If you’re not sure, ask the DX station or
check DX bulletins available on the DX Cluster System, accessible by either
packet radio or Telnet.
Many DX hams have recruited QSL managers, hams who handle the QSL
chores of one or more DX stations. QSL managers are convenient for everyone.
The DX station need only send batches of blank cards and a copy of the logs;
hams wanting that station’s card need only send a First Class stamp for US
return postage and can expect a prompt reply. (In the case of QSL managers
located outside the United States, you must still send IRCs (or dollars) and a self-
addressed return envelope.)
The easiest (and slowest) way to send and receive large batches of QSL cards is
through the incoming and outgoing QSL bureaus. The outgoing bureau is
available to ARRL members. The incoming bureaus are available to all amateurs.
Bureau instructions and addresses are printed periodically in QST; they appear
in the ARRL Operating Manual, and they are available from ARRL Headquarters
for an SASE.
Alternatively, you can submit your QSO log electronically to ARRL’s Logbook of
The World. All submissions are free; you only pay when you “redeem” your QSO
credits for an award, such as DXCC. Once you are signed up as a Logbook user,
you can submit new contact records whenever you wish. Your contacts will be
matched against the logs of other Logbook users. Whenever a match occurs, you
receive instant credit for the contact. You can learn more about Logbook of The
World by visiting its Web site at www.arrl.org/lotw/
ARRL's Incoming QSL Bureau System
(From ARRL web page http://www.arrl.org/qsl/qslin.html)
Within the US, the ARRL DX QSL Bureau System is made up of numerous call-area
bureaus that act as central clearing houses for QSL cards arriving from foreign countries.
Volunteers staff these "incoming" bureaus. The service is free; ARRL membership is not
required. (Canadian amateurs can use the Radio Amateurs of Canada's incoming QSL
How the System Works
Most countries have "outgoing" QSL bureaus that operate in much the same manner as
the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service The members sends his cards to his outgoing bureau
where they are packaged and shipped to the appropriate countries.
A majority of the DX QSLs are shipped directly to the individual incoming bureaus
where volunteers sort the incoming QSLs by the first letter of the call sign-suffix. One
individual may be assigned the responsibility of handling from one or more letters of the
alphabet. All incoming QSL Bureaus have email addresses. Some Bureaus have active
Claiming Your QSLs
Send a 5 x 7-1/2 or 6 x 9 inch self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) or money credit
where applicable to the bureau serving your call-sign district. Neatly print your call-sign
in the upper left corner of the envelope. Place your mailing address on the front of the
envelope. A suggested way to send envelopes is to affix a first class stamp and clip extra
postage to the envelope. Then, if you receive more than 1 ounce of cards, they can be sent
in a single package.
Some incoming bureaus sell envelopes or postage credits in addition to the normal SASE
handling. They provide the proper envelope and postage upon the prepayment of a certain
fee. The exact arrangements can be obtained by sending your inquiry with a SASE to
your area bureau. (A list of bureaus appears below.)
Hints on How to Make the Bureau System Work Better for You
Good cooperation between the DXer and the bureau is important to ensure a smooth flow
of cards. Remember that the people who work in the area bureaus are volunteers. They
are providing you with a valuable service. With that thought in mind, please pay close
attention to the following dos and don'ts.
Do keep self-addressed 5 x 7-1/2 or 6 x 9 inch envelopes or money credit on file
at your bureau, with your call in the upper left corner, and affix at least one unit of
Do send the bureau enough postage to cover SASEs on file and enough to take
care of possible postage rate increases.
Do respond quickly to any bureau request for SASEs, stamps or money.
Unclaimed card backlogs are the bureau's biggest problem.
Do notify the bureau of your new call sign as you upgrade. Please send SASEs
with your new call, in addition to SASEs with your old call.
Do include a SASE with any information request to the bureau.
Do notify the bureau in writing if you don't want your cards.
Do notify the Bureau of a change of address.
Don't send domestic US to US cards to the various call-area bureaus.
Don't expect DX cards to arrive for several months after the QSO. Overseas
delivery is very slow. Many cards coming from overseas bureaus are over a year
Don't send your outgoing DX cards to your call-area bureau.
Don't send SASEs to your "portable" bureau. For example, NU0X/1 sends SASEs
to the W0 bureau, not the W1 bureau.
Don't send SASEs or money credits to the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service.
Don't send SASEs larger than 6 x 9 inches. SASEs larger than 6 x 9 inches require
additional postage surcharges.
First Call Area
All first-area call signs:
W1 QSL Bureau
PO Box 7388
Milford, MA 01757-7388
This QSL Bureau accepts money credits only. NO SASEs. For specific information on
the W1 incoming bureau, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This address can also be used to
send comments or general questions to the W1 QSL Bureau Manager.
See the W1 Bureau home page at http://www.yccc.org/Resources/w1qslburo.htm
Second Call Area
All second-area call signs:
ARRL 2nd District QSL Bureau
PO Box 599
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
This Bureau accepts money credits only. NO SASEs. For detailed information on the W2
Incoming QSL Bureau, please contact Douglas Rue, W2EN, Bureau Manager,
email@example.com. Additionally, the W2 Bureau has its own home page that contains a
world of QSL Bureau information.
Third Call Area
All third-area call signs:
National Capitol DX Association
PO Box 1149
Clinton, MD 20735-5149
Comments or questions on this bureaus operation may be directed to NC3DX@arrl.net
See the W3 Incoming QSL Bureau web page at:
Fourth Call Area
All fourth-area call signs with single-letter prefixes (K4, N4, W4):
Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Club
Call Box DX
Charlotte, NC 28220
Comments or questions on this bureau's operation may be directed to
firstname.lastname@example.org. See the W4 QSL Bureau home page.
All fourth-area call signs with two-letter prefixes (AA4, KB4, NC4, WD4, etc):
Sterling Park Amateur Radio Club
Call Box 599
Sterling, VA 20167
Comments or questions on this bureau's operation may be directed to
See the WA4 Bureau Home page: http://www.qsl.net/sterling/QSLBuro4/QSLBuro4.html
Fifth Call Area
All fifth-area call signs:
The ARRL W5 QSL Bureau
P.O. Box 2591
Claremore, OK 74018-2591
Comments or questions on this Bureau's operation may be directed to: email@example.com
See the W5 Bureau home page (http://www.okdxa.org/buro)
Sixth Call Area
All sixth-area call signs:
ARRL Sixth (6th) District DX QSL Bureau
P.O. Box 970
Fairfax, CA., 94978-0970
Comments or questions on this bureau's operation may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
See the W6 Bureau home page (http://www.kqlz.com/qslbureau6/)
Seventh Call Area
All seventh-area call signs:
Willamette Valley DX Club Inc
PO Box 555
Portland, OR 97207
Comments or questions on this bureau's operation may be directed to email@example.com.
See the W7 Bureau home page
Eighth Call Area
All eighth-area call signs:
8th Area QSL Bureau
PO Box 307
West Chester, OH 45071-0307
Comments or questions on this bureaus operation may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
See the 8th Area QSL Bureau home page.
Ninth Call Area
All ninth-area call signs:
Northern Illinois DX Assn.
P.O. Box 273
Glenview, IL 60025-0273
Comments or questions on this bureaus operation may be directed to:
See the W9 QSL Bureau homepage.
Tenth Call Area
All tenth-area call signs:
WØ QSL Bureau
PO Box 907
Florissant, MO 63032
Comments or questions on this Bureau's operation may be directed to email@example.com.
See the WØ home page. (http://www.zeroburo.com)
All Hawaiian call signs:
KH6 QSL Bureau
P.O. Box 860788
Wahiawa, HI 96786
Comments or questions on this bureau's operation may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Alaskan call signs:
Alaska QSL Bureau
P.O. Box 520343
Big Lake, AK 99652
Comments or questions on this bureaus operation may be directed to email@example.com
All Puerto Rico call signs:
Puerto Rico QSL Bureau
PO Box 9021061
San Juan, PR 00902-1061
Comments or questions on this bureaus operation my be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
US Virgin Islands
All USVI call signs:
Virgin Islands ARC
GPO Box 11360
Charlotte Amalie VI 00801
Comments or questions on this bureau's operation may be directed to Paul Jordan NP2JF
All Guam Calls
Guam QSL Bureau
Marianas Amateur Radio Club
P.O. Box 445
Agana, Guam 96932
Comments or questions regarding this Bureau may be directed to Danny Pobre KH2JU
All US SWL calls
SWL QSL Bureau
Mike Witkowski, WDX9JFT
4206 Nebel St
Stevens Point, WI 54481
ARRL's Outgoing QSL Service
(From ARRL web page http://www.arrl.org/qsl/qslout.html)
Note: The ARRL QSL Service cannot be used to exchange QSL cards within the 48
One of the greatest bargains of League membership is being able to use the ARRL
Outgoing QSL Service to conveniently send your DX QSL cards overseas to foreign QSL
Bureaus. Your ticket for using this service is proof of ARRL Membership and following
the fee schedule below. For those of you who are not quite so DX active you can send 10
cards or less for just $1.50. You can't even get a deal like that at your local warehouse
supermarket! And the potential savings over the substantial cost of individual QSLing is
equal to many times the price of your annual dues. Your cards are sorted by the Outgoing
QSL Service staff, and are usually shipped within 3 weeks. The Service handles
approximately one million cards each year!
QSL cards are shipped to QSL Bureaus throughout the world, which are typically
maintained by the national Amateur Radio Society of each country. While no cards are
sent to individuals or individual QSL managers, keep in mind that what you might lose in
speed is more than made up in the convenience and savings of not having to address and
mail each QSL card separately. (In the case of DXpeditions and/or active DX stations
that use US QSL managers, a better approach is to QSL directly to the QSL manager. The
various DX newsletters, the GOLIST QSL manage-r directory, and other publications, are
good sources of up-to-date QSL manager information.)
As postage costs become increasingly prohibitive, don't go broke before you're even
halfway towards making DXCC. There's a better and cheaper way -- "QSL VIA BURO"
through the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service!
How To Use The ARRL Outgoing QSL Service
1) Presort your DX QSL's alphabetically by parent call-sign prefix (AP, C6, CE, DL, ES,
EZ, F, G, JA, LY, PY, UN, YL, 5N, 9Y and so on). Canadian and Australian cards
should be sorted by numerical callsign (VE1, VE2, VE3 & VK1, VK2, VK3 etc). NOTE:
Some countries have a parent prefix and use additional prefixes, i.e. G (parent prefix) =
M, 2E, 2I, 2M, 2W,.... When sorting countries that have multiple prefixes, keep that
country's prefixes grouped with the parent prefix in your alphabetical stack. Addresses
are not required. DO NOT separate the country prefixes by use of paper clips,
rubber bands, slips of paper or envelopes.
2) Enclose proof of current ARRL Membership. This can be in the form of a photocopy
of the white address label from your current copy of QST. You can also write on a slip of
paper the information from the label, and use that as proof of Membership. A copy of
your current Membership card is also acceptable.
3) Members (including foreign, QSL Managers, or managers for DXpeditions) should
enclose payment of $5.00 for the first 1/2 pound of cards or portion thereof--
approximately 75 cards weigh 1/2 pound. $10.00 for one pound, the fee rate then
increases at the rate of $5.00 for each additional 1/2 pound (i.e. a package containing 11/2
pounds of cards should include the fee of $15.00 and so on). A package of only Ten (10)
cards or fewer costs only $1.50. Eleven (11) to Twenty (20) cards are $2.50. Twenty-
One (21) to Thirty (30) cards are $3.75. Please pay by check (or money order) and write
your callsign on the check. Send "green stamps" (cash) at your own risk. DO NOT send
postage stamps or IRCs. Please make checks payable to: "The ARRL Outgoing QSL
DXCC credit CANNOT be used towards the QSL Service fee.
4) Include only the cards, proof of Membership, and fee in the package. Wrap the
package securely and address it to the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service, 225 Main Street,
Newington CT 06111-1494.
5) Family members may also use the service by enclosing their QSLs with those of the
primary member. Include the appropriate fee with each individual's cards and indicate
"family membership" on the primary member's proof of membership.
6) Blind members who do not receive QST need only include the appropriate fee along
with a note indicating the cards are from a blind member.
7) ARRL affiliated-club stations may use the service when submitting club QSL's by
indicating the club name. Club secretaries should check affiliation papers to ensure that
affiliation is current. In addition to sending club station QSL's through this service,
affiliated clubs may also "pool" their members' individual QSL cards to effect an even
greater savings. Each club member using this service must also be a League member.
Cards should be sorted "en masse" by prefix, and proof of Membership enclosed for each
Recommended QSL Card Dimensions
The efficient operation of the worldwide system of QSL Bureau requires that cards be
easy to handle and sort. Cards of unusual dimensions, either much larger or much smaller
than normal, slow the work of the Bureaus, most of which is done by unpaid volunteers.
A review of the cards received by the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service indicates that most
fall in the following range: Height = 2-3/4 to 4-1/4 in. (70 to 110 mm), Width = 4-3/4 to
6-1/4 in. (120 to 160 mm). Cards in this range can be easily sorted, stacked and packaged.
Cards outside this range create problems; in particular, the larger cards often cannot be
handled without folding or otherwise damaging them. In the interest of efficient operation
of the worldwide QSL Bureau system, it is recommended that cards entering the system
be limited to the range of dimensions given. [Note: IARU Region 2 has suggested the
following dimensions as optimum: Height 3 1/2 in. (90 mm), Width 5 1/2 in. (140 mm).]
Countries Not Served By The Outgoing QSL Service
Approximately 225 DXCC countries are served by the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service, as
detailed in the ARRL DXCC List. This includes nearly every active country. As noted
previously, cards are forwarded from the ARRL Outgoing Service to a counterpart
Bureau in each of these countries. In some cases, there is no Incoming Bureau in a
particular country and cards therefore cannot be forwarded. However, QSL cards can be
forwarded to a QSL manager, e.g., ZB2FX via (G3RFX). The ARRL Outgoing Service
cannot forward cards to the following countries:
A6 United Arab Emirates
E5 North & South Cook Is.
J8 St. Vincent
KG4 Guantanamo Bay
KH0 Mariana Is.
KH1 Baker & Howland Is.
KH4 Midway Island
KH5 Palmyra & Jarvis Is.
KH7K Kure Island
KH9 Wake island
KP1 Navassa Island
KP5 Desecheo Island
P2 Papua New Guinea
P5 North Korea
S0 Western Sahara
S9 Sao Tome & Principe
TL Central African Rep
V4 St. Kitts & Nevis
ZD9 Tristan da Cunha
3B Agalega, Mauritius, Rodrigues
3C0 Pagalu Island
3C Equatorial Guinea
4W Timor- Leste
Countries that currently restrict the forwarding of QSL cards to anyone other than
members of that country's national radio society include the following:
Denmark France Germany Hungary Italy Japan Monaco Norway
Poland Portugal Russia South Africa Sweden Zambia
We no longer hold cards for countries with no Incoming Bureau. Only cards indicating a
QSL Manager for a station in these particular countries will be forwarded.
When sending cards to Foreign QSL Managers, make sure to sort these cards using the
Manager's callsign, rather than the station's callsign.
SWL cards can be forwarded through the QSL Service.
The Outgoing QSL Service CANNOT forward stamps, IRCs or "green stamps" (cash) to
the foreign QSL bureaus.
Please direct any questions or comments to the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service, 225 Main
Street, Newington CT, 06111-1494. Inquires via email may be sent to email@example.com
Outgoing QSL Bureau:
Incoming QSL Bureau:
Logbook Of The World: