QSLing Tips and Advice
Compiled From The DX Reflector


 QSL TIPS   Input from Qsl Managers And Others *****************************************************************************
Always take the time to make the card LEGIBLE. Information that can not be read, can not be confirmed. Almost all DX stations keep their log information in UTC (zulu, GMT) time. Be sure to submit your information using the UTC time format. Always provide the QSL manager a means to return the confirming DX card to you by sending with your request a SASE or SAE and IRCs or Money for postage.

When sending the return envelope, put the folded end of the return envelope on BOTTOM of the mailing envelope. This will prevent it from being sliced when the mailing envelope is opened by machine or letter opener. Always make sure your call sign is on the INFORMATION SIDE of the qsl card. This prevents the manager from having to turn the card to find the call sign and possibly make an error with your call sign.

PATIENCE is the biggest factor in this event. Most managers must wait for the cards to be printed and then wait for the logs to arrive.  Sometimes there are many weeks involved in both events, so Patience is  the practice.

 If you're sending from a humid area, or sending to a humid area, either buy envelopes that have a strip that is removed to seal the envelope, or put a piece of wax paper between the glue edge of the envelope and whatever it might touch. -don't use a pen that smears with water (test it out with a bit of water spilled on your envelope or qsl card).  If it smears, runs, etc toss the pen and start all over again. 

Not only does the ink run make it hard to read your card, but it can keep the envelope from being delivered (address is smeared) or it gets on the QSL managers clothing when filling out the card (don't laugh, I have at least two shirts that were trashed! -If you work a major dxpedition several times, including dupes, or multiple band/modes, put in your request ALL qso's for that dxpedition, even if you only need a single band/mode.  You can indicate on a post-it or whatever that you only need a certain qso, but if the expedition is using labels, it makes the qso's on the label easier to verify, rather than printing a new label (often a manual process) to remove all but the qso you want. -If you work a rare station, I would recommend not sending a 'garden variety' dx request along with the rare QSL you really need. 

QSL managers are not mind readers, if you request in a single envelope 4 qsl cards from 4 stations, the envelope will not be returned until all qso's are able to be verified.  I held a XXX card for nearly a year awaiting a log for a relatively common Caribbean station. -

DO NOT send a qsl, label and stamp unless the dx station specifically requests this (the assumption being that his/her card won't fit in your envelope).  A QSL manager has enough to do without digging out an envelope for your return qsl.  You risk it coming back like a post card. -If you send IRCS, MAKE SURE that the IRC is properly stamped.

You might write it on, or use a rubber stamp, as email addresses seem to change, for some people, more often than they print qsl cards. -make sure you identify on your card (if not pre-printed) what is the date and what is the month (I.e., 8/7/98...is it august or July?). -write the managers address in the return address area of your return SASE. That way, if something happens, it has a chance of finding it's way back to the manager, should the manager not use an address stamp. -put the country on the last line of the address when you address an envelope, and put your country on the SASE, if mailing to a DX QSL manager. Morristown, NJ (without U.S.A.) may not make a lot of sense to a foreign postal employee. 

Why take chances! -Place 'air mail' on your envelope when mailing to a dx country, and on your sase. -If you know a postage rate is coming (i.e., US goes from .32 to .33 in January) start applying the  1 cent stamp now, or send it attached to the envelope with a post-it note or small piece of tape, so that the manager  can use it if needed, and if not needed (able to reply before the rate increases), they can use it for someone that doesn't read these tips! -If you send stamps as opposed to IRCS, Greenstamps, etc....apply the minimum amount, and enclose the others with the envelope without placing them on the envelope. That way, if the manager doesn't need the extra weight, they can use it on another envelope down the line.  For example, I get several dx envelopes with well over 60 cents postage for return.  I could use the extra postage for bureau mailings, or whatever, but its a shame to over-compensate the postal system when there are more 'worthy uses' in the dx community. **************************************************************************************************************
PROPER Stamped IRC's (on the left side only)...No return envelope..no return. NOT all stations that managers handle wish to have their card sent through buro. I have been instructed by a couple,,direct only..no buro -NO FOREIGN CURRENCY!! The majority of QSL managers in the U.S. do not live in large cities that offer foreign currency exchange. **************************************************************************************************************
Make sure your SAE or SASE is of a size that a QSL card will fit without   difficulties. Do NOT fold it extensively. Preferable use a larger mailing   envelope which can contain your SAE or SASE unfolded. - For return postage a SASE or SAE + $ is required. 1 US$ is just enough for email anywhere. - Any extra is appreciated to cover cost for printing, buro cards etc. - Cards received with foreign stamps, Lirres, francs etc. are answered by the buro - IRC's are also accepted but give me a lot of extra work exchanging at the post office. - When QSLing direct, do not also send a buro request.

This will NOT be answered - When using the Email-QSL option, do not send a card also. This will NOT be answered - I answer all requests First In = First Out - Do not combine requests for multiple stations. Each and every QSO have to be checked in the log separately which is time consuming. I put these aside until I have time available which can takes weeks. - Be aware of the weight limits for mail and ensure sufficient return postage is provided. Take into account that you might get separate cards for each and every qso (at least that is my standard) and not all your qso's on one label. The weight of 4 cards is extensively more then one card with a label. - Be patient. Do not start sending reminders after a few weeks.

Please take into account that a manager might have to wait for logs, cards from the printer etc. Most of the time managers receive more then one requests a day. Many managers advise QSL status via the various reflectors and DX-outlets. - Pay attention to your return SAE. Make sure your address is readable and complete (including your country....). leave sufficient space for the stamp. - If you send handwritten QSL's make sure they are well readable. Clarify date (ddmmyy) and time format. Use UTC or GMT. - If you use SASE with stamps be sure the stamp value is sufficient and stamps are valid. - Use envelopes which can EASILY hold the standard 9x14 cm QSL size i.e. use envelopes which are at least 10x15 cm. - Be well aware of the managers country postage rates and ensure sufficient return postage is provided. - Do not send address labels instead of SAE. *****************************************************************************
Pitcairn Island QSl's should be addressed to Pitcarin Island via New Zealand *****************************************************************************
a) multiple QSO's not listed in chronological order, but inrising/falling frequency/mode or just in random order

b) QSL's not claiming all the QSO's in the log, and/or not giving a clear indication that the applicant only wants the QSO's listed to be QSLed.  My policy is to hold such applications in the "queries" pile until I have worked my way through the simple and straightforward applications.

c) Several, separate applications, each listing different QSO's.  For some XXX QSO's I received up to seven different postal items for a single station.  This is madness!

d) The perception that "even if I don't apply for all my QSO's, the manager will automatically send me cards for everything in his log", followed by vehement complaints when they are not.

e) Insufficient IRC's or $ to pay for the return postage.

 f) Flimsy envelopes which are likely to break in the post.

g) Envelopes which are too small to contain the number of cards applied for.

h) Applications with no envelopes at all!

i) Local dates/times not properly corrected to UTC, which often means the claimed time is in error by anything from 1 to 24 hours

j) Mixing local times and UTC on the same card

k) IRC's not properly cancelled in the left hand box

l) IRC's and/or $ stuck to cards etc with scotch tape  

m) Insufficient British stamps for a reply and no other form of contribution.


  One tip that you may or may not be aware of:  When you are QSL'ing US  dollars for a return postage (of course, only to countries where you  know the $$$ is likely to get thru), and it will cost the DX more than   US$1 for return postage, DON'T send two $1 bills.  Go to the bank and  request some $2 bills!  The banks are thrilled to get the bills out of   their hair & into circulation, and you send a slightly thinner envelope on the way. 

I have never had a DX station complain about  getting a Jefferson instead of a Washington!    However, some banks or bank branches may not carry a large stock of $2   bills, so if you try to get more than a handful, they may not have  them.  When in doubt, go to a larger branch office (such as a downtown or main one) rather than a smaller one.  **************************************************************************************************************
Here is a plea for how to stuff a good QSL card envelop:

1. write very plainly and if u make a mistake, start over with a new card;  award agencies throw out "write overs";

2.  if u use a computer label, either sign half over the label and half on  the card with ur signature or use a unique rubber stamp--half on label and  half on card---this shows the label was not done by anyone but sender;

3.  notate which numeral is the day and which is the month;

4.  mail the QSL card in an envelop with the card facing the flap--- > facing u as u put it in the envelop;

5.  in that envelop also place--behind the QSL card--a USD ($1) or IRC,  and a self-addressed return envelop folded like this:  fold the flap > backwards so that the gum/glue is away from the envelop face (but not in  its normal position ready for sealing), then fold the sae in half with the  fold going across the narrower part of the envelop (with the fold more or  less across the return address) so that the gum/glue is facing out;
6. insert this folded self addressed envelop behind the dollar bill and  away from the QSL card so that when opened, the outer envelop contains,  from rear to face, the QSL card, the dollar bill, and then the return  envelop.  The glue sticks less to the 1$ than to the card! 

Dry glue envelops (peal and stick) are great especially for damp weather.  Correct- country postage already placed on the return, self-addressed  envelop is good.  Use "security envelops" everywhere-- the kind that has  blue or black cross-hatching inside so that looking through the outer  envelop is difficult.  Do not tuck the dollar bill inside the return envelop--too much work for receiver of QSL.  Maybe pass this --with good additional advice-- on to other reflectors?
I have a different way of doing a couple of them.  I get two different sized airmail envelopes, one fits neatly into the other. The smaller ones are Eaton Executive 3-7/8" x 7-1/2" (Eaton Cat. # 32-634-0) and the larger ones are Eaton # 10 4-1/8" x 9-1/2" (Eaton Cat. # 32-635-10). I put my QSL and greenstamp/IRC(s) inside the smaller envelope SAE which goes inside the larger one.  If I have several cards to send in one envelope I usually put the return postage in between the cards.  This has been working for me for years.

I haven't received any complaints about it being difficult to fetch the contents from the return envelope.  It seems more secure to me to do it that way.  I was amazed to hold one of those "security" envelopes, prepared the way I described above, up to a 150 watt flood light.  I could easily see the dollar bill inside! What I also do if the card is going to a "third world" or CIS country is put a piece of carbon paper, cut to the size of the larger envelope, inside at the front of the envelope facing the front. All the other contents are behind the carbon paper so they don't get smeared by it.  It is impossible to see through these envelopes with good-quality carbon paper. And NEVER put callsigns on the envelopes in such cases (I don't as a general rule, even to EU countries where there is less mail theft.)
 IRC ? GreenStamp ? AirMail Stamp ? If you send a greenstamp, you stand to lose $1.  If you send an IRC, you stand to lose $1.05. Unless you buy them at a cheaper rate from QSL Managers. However -- why not use an AirMail Stamp for the country of the DX or DX Manager? Many claim a better rate of return. They can be purchased from several places on the web. One source is: JAMES E. MACKEY, K3FN PO BOX 270569 WEST HARTFORD, CT 06127-0569 **************************************************************************************************************
Another tip is to print a QSL card on the back of a bank check!! When its cashed it shows proof of contact.
In that envelop also place--behind the QSL card--a USD ($1) or IRC, and a self-addressed return envelop folded like this:  fold the flap >backwards so that the gum/glue is away from the envelop face (but not in its normal position ready for sealing), then fold the sae in half with the fold going across the narrower part of the envelop (with the fold more or >less across the return address) so that the gum/glue is facing out;  

As a matter of personal taste, I respectfully disagree with this step in Mr.X's procedure.   First, if the envelope gets so wet as to seal the inside return envelope, the ink is probably also ruined on the envelope and the QSL.  Hence, no return QSL card anyway since the info needed to confirm and send you your QSL is also lost.  So I don't bother folding back the return envelope flap.   Second, if you fold the return envelope in half in the manner suggested, you will have quite a bulge in the envelope and it will seem bulky.  Both are signs of possible valuables inside an envelope and will mark the envelope as a target for possible theft.  You might as well write the call signs on the envelope or write "Valuables" on the outside.

 It will be diverted for a search and your money will go towards something other than a return QSL card.   I feel it's best to just insert the envelope with the flap in normal position and inserted upside down into the larger envelope to protect the flap from being torn or cut while the DX operator is opening the outside envelope.  This gives a slimmer, less bulky profile, and if both are security envelopes, (and they should be!), it also adds to the security by blocking IRCs, Dollars, and QSLs from view. 

It's impossible to see through an envelope prepared this way except using X-rays!  Of course I've heard that the US Dollars can still be detected using a hand held metal detector so what's the use!   If a US Dollar won't stick to the envelope gum, a better way to use this fact would be to just insert the dollar between the envelope & gummed flap and insert upside down as I described above.  But I don't send cash myself, so you'll have to try it with your money. ;^) I'm sticking with IRCs and SASEs. 

My only problem with responding to direct qsl from USA is the odd size envelopes you guys are using. I have to put a piece of tape on every ( almost ) envelope in order to close it. It makes life easier if you would use standard international envelopes like everybody else.
But what many of our American DX-friends seem to forget is, what they call "oversized envelope" is actually quite standard in the rest of the world. In fact, the American so-called "Standard Size" is undersized for nearly everyone else. European QSL buro's have specific dimension requirements for QSL cards, as is likely the case in the US and JA.

Those dimensions in Europa are somewhat harmonized to 9 x 14 cm (3-9/16" x 5-1/2"), and most other QSL sizes in the world correspond hereto. Typically, American cards are smaller, hence the smaller envelopes seem appropriate. Try to fit a European QSL in a so-called Standard Size envelope, and what you get is either a bend QSL card, or a torn envelope with the QSL peaking out, or an envelope flap partly gummed to the QSL card, or all of the above! Not to mention the time it takes to try to at least control the damage to either the envelope or the QSL card. If you really want to do the DX station a favor, the very least you can do is give him/her an easy-fit envelope!
Bill Plum sells a very nice set of European Airmail Envelopes.  One fits inside the other with no folding at all. According to his last catalog, the outers are $9/100 and the returns are $8/100  + shipping  His fax # is (908) 782-2612 I am not associated in any way with Bill, just an extremely satsified customer using his products
Several folks added the following good advice abt QSLing

1.  make sure u can not see thru the outer cover envelop-- maybe use extra paper or carbon paper or whatever to make viewing thru more difficult.

2.  use an envelop sized for a QSL card as your inner, return addressed envelop and then get a larger envelop for the outer cover envelop so that folding the inner, return envelop is not necessary (one less step on both ends --folding and unfolding!!!)

3. use larger envelops for return especially from Europe,

4, put any folded stuff inside the outer cover envelop with the folds DOWN so the letter-opener knife does not cut it badly,

5.  Do not seal outer cover envelop all the way to the very edge so that one can not get a letter opener into the crease to start cutting open.
 Lots of good advice from this thread. One more hint, to deter money sniffing dogs (and there are such animals) shake a few grains of black pepper in the envelope.  I read this one somewhere, but can't remember the source.  I done it, but have no stats on results.
Your statement on the "Greenstamps vs IRCs" subject was excellent and very complete ! Congratulations ! Let me just add 2 things :

1. It is always better, when the sender's own currency is strong, to send "greenstamps". Example : The US $ now is strong. When foreigners outside USA receive 1$ in greenstamps, they can get for more than 1$ value in their countries (bank change or shopping). In the meantime in the USA, the sender spent only (still) 1$ for 1$.

2. Greenstamps are always preferrable to IRCs in many countries. You said : IRC ..... By definition, covers AIRMAIL postage to every point on the Earth for a half ounce letter   This is true theorically. But in fact, Post offices in many countries don't  respect this rule. They often give you only about 80% of the face value, keeping 20% for covering their so-called charges. And you can't do much against that ; it's iron jug against clay jug !!

Here in Tahiti, for 1 US IRC ($1), they only give me 80 cts in stamps, and this is quite insufficent for 1 mail. So, I much prefer "greenstamps" which I can use to buy stamps for the basic value of the concerned currency, eventually boosted when the currency is strong ! (1 US $ is worth 108 cts now in Tahiti !). Futhermore, greenstamps let me buy other goods, if I wish so. I can't have this flexibility with IRCs.  

Summary : - 1 greenstamp always is worth its face value, minimum. ($1 = $1 or more,    + flexibility) - 1 IRC is worth its face value, maximum in the best case. In many countries, it does not cover the minimum charge for 1 mail.
X queried about pros and cons of using  greenstamps and IRCs in confirming contacts with DX stations, it  might be useful for me to tell you about my experiences, plus some  well known facts.  Greenstamps

Pros: Fairly easy to obtain (for DXers in western countries) Useful everywhere Less expensive than an IRC Saves you the trip to the post office for obtainig an IRC

Cons: __
 Hello,  I recently got interested in DX and Contesting. I worked over 40 new  countries in the last 3 contests. Attempting to look for the QSL  info for these stations yielded a number of QSL managers. Could anyone  explain to me the procedure for QSLing a DX station via his QSL managers? 

Welcome to the wonderful world of "pasteboard collectors" (that's what QSLs used to be made of a long time ago). If the station you worked has a listed QSL manager (and you can get those lists from many different source, but be mindful that not all of the lists are 100% correct all of the time), it means that the DX station wants you to send the card to the manager, instead of sending it directly to him. Maybe that was understood, but it never hurts to start at the beginning. If the station has a stateside manager, it's a simple matter of putting your card and a return SASE (self-addressed & stamped envelope with $.32 postage on the return card so that the manager doesn't have to shell out any money to send the card back to you) and slipping that package into a larger envelope and sending it to the manager. 

Usually you will include all QSLs made with the DX station on one card (instead of sending 3 cards if you work the DX station on three different bands or modes). When the manager gets your card, it goes into the stack that is waiting to be worked.  When the manager gets the log from the DX station (it might be emailed, maybe sent by airmail on paper, or hand-copied and delivered by a friendly airline crew - who knows?) then the manager begins to whittle down the pile.  Sometimes the manager has to wait for a while to get the logs from the DX station. Sometimes the manager is waiting on QSL cards to be printer. 

Sometimes you get a return almost before you realize you've posted the original card.  It just depnds on circumstances. If you have worked a DX station that has a foreign manager, you have a couple of choices:  

1. send your QSL card and envelope directly, using foreign stamps   purchased from a stamp service (see QST and CQ for their ads) to put   on the self-addressed envelope.  Usually, this will net you the fastest   return of your QSL card, but can get expensive:  for example, my card to   a German DX manager runs $.05 for each envelope ($.10), $.60 for postage   to Germany ($.70), another nickle for the card ($.75) and then it's $2.00   for the German stamp to get my card back to me ($2.70 total).  I use   special envelopes of the European size (different than that used in North   America) that nest the smaller envelope inside the larger envelope, and   are light enough that both envelopes and 1 card runs less than 1 oz.  

2. if you're not in a hurry, you can use a QSL card service to forward   your card to the manager.  WF5E runs one such service... $.17 per card or   6/$1.  He sends the cards directly to the manager, and gets the cards back   that way.  The cards then are distributed to you via the ARRL Incoming   QSL card bureau.  To get your cards from the ARRL, you keep a supply of   SASE envelopes on hand at the bureau and they periodically send them to   you when the envelopes fill up to a certain point (I keep $.32 on my   envelopes and get them sent to me when I have 5-7 cards in 'em, for   example.  Reponse times vary... I've had a couple take less than four   months this way.. and I'm still waiting on others after over a year.  

3. Even slower, but a lot cheaper, is the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau, if you   are an ARRL member.  For $1, they will forward 10 cards to the DX Bureau   handling the country your manager is in.  Or, for the bulk QSL'er, it's   $4 for a pound of cards.  This way is the slowest.. and less reliable  than any other.  You may find you get less than 50% response from cards   sent via the ARRL Bureau system like I do... others seem to have better   luck than I. With any luck, you've got an idea of what you want to spend, versus how quick you need the card, now.  Myself, if it's a new country for me, it goes direct.  If it's a new country on 40 or 80 (where I'm trying to finish up single-band), it goes direct, otherwise it goes via the WF5E Service if it's just a new band or mode.  If it's to a country that I've already got confirmed on both phone and CW and that band, it goes via the ARRL Outgoing system. Did that tell you more than you wanted to know?
Am heavy into getting out XXX and XXX QSL cards and again must issue a plea: USA guys:

1.  ALWAYS include a stamped self-adr envelop, folded once across the middle, with the flap turned backwards before folding (better not folded--learn about #9, #10, and #11 envelops).

2.  ALWAYS have your callsign on the same side of ur card as your info.

3.  Include $1.  if you can for those with large QSL loads or small operations.

Outside USA coming into USA:
1.  NEVER fold the return envelop more than once.

2   ALWAYS use return envelops which have their own stickum, glue, etc. (I have licked too many non-glue end flaps only to have to tape the wet flap in disappointment).

3.  ALWAYS use top load envelops, never end load (i.e., envelops which have the flap across the longest dimension are best).

4.  NEVER NEVER NEVER (hear me JAs???) seal the outer envelop flap all the way into both corners so that there is no opening in which to insert a letter opener or knife.  This is really irritating in the hundred iteration or so.

 5.  Please include some method of meeting the cost of returning a card to you--- green stamp, US postage (nice), IRC (stamped by PO), turkey basting receipe, something!-- if you possibly can afford to do so.

Just got a packet of cards from the QSL bureau and there were about 6 cards from SWL'ers asking for cards.  I am not sure how to fill out this type of card and would appreciate any help.  This  may seem like a dumb request, but I am not sure about it.  I do want to respond to the SWL'ERS.

I get a few SWL cards and I too think it is important to respond....I find some of the reports are fairly informative and show a certain amount of work on the part of the SWL and others are "no effort".  I respond to all, no matter the effort. I do verify the report by checking the info in my logbook. 

I don't think I have ever NOT found the info. In filling out my card, I put SWL-QQ12345 (in the slot normally used for the station I have worked), the date/time/band/mode info is the same as if for a QSO except where my mode blank is, I would put "My 2xCW with EL9XX".  I thank them for their report. I send the cards via bureau and I clearly mark them SWL RADIO QO-12345. --------------------------------------------------------------------

I guess its that time of year again.   As a QSL manager i have a few grumbles to  pass on. Dont get me wrong , I'm not bitching (yes I am) but I really want YOU to help ME! Listed are a few of my pet hates.  The list is not exhaustive as I'm sure other managers will attest. I am trying to make it easy for you to confirm that elusive or new country - so lets look at it with that in mind....... A few simple things would make our lives a lot easier. ALWAYS :

a) use air mail envelopes (you know they are usually blue with a stripped edging)

 b) print/type YOUR return address (sometimes I cannot read your handwriting and I am not always familiar with the way some other Countries write their addresses)

c) include a self addressed envelope (its amazing how many dont - even guys in the USA who should know better.    Dont stick in a $1 bill and expect me to run down to the post office EVERY day and have an everlasting supply of envelopes.

d) if you MUST use a plain envelope - YOU must attach an "air mail" sticker - if you dont - I have to - to get it through the post office.   I have to stand in line with all the rest.   My post office aint too big so they will only give me a couple of sheets at a time.

e) list ALL YOUR QSOs on the one card - use the blank back if required.   We dont collect YOUR cards so you are wasting your own money, if you use seperate cards for each QSO, and it might cost you more to post.   If for any reason you require a seperate card for each QSO or say a specific band (some ppl like a single card for 160m - just write that instruction on your card.  I will be happy to oblige. DONT:

f) Fill your envelope full of junk (picture postcards, used stamps, calendars, oragami (or however you spell it) I know on occasions its nice to personalise things but after the CQWW Contest I am getting 50 - 60 direct requests EVERY day.   Keep it simple.

g) involve me in long correspondence if you get a reply back saying "NOT IN LOG".   My logs are all in the computer and i check every single QSO - for the whole contest period - as well as similar calls around the stated time/band.   Believe me, if I say you are not in the log - YOU ARE NOT IN THE LOG. I cannot put you in the log - dont shoot me - I am only the manager - I wasn't even on the expedition.

h) (especially my japanese and korean friends) use envelopes which have no means of sticking down the flap.   I either have to glue them or sellotape them shut.   When you are dealing with 50/60 cards a day - this is a pain in the neck.






Last Update:July 31, 2002