direct qsl

jan 24,2012



From the ARRL Club Newsletter, May 28, 2009

Sometimes we find that the QSL bureau or Logbook of The World may not be able to meet our needs when it comes to getting that much sought after QSL card. The radio amateur in the country from which we want a QSL card may not have a QSL bureau, or we may lack the patience to wait for a card as it takes a slow journey through the hands of many volunteer workers in the QSL bureau system. For whatever reason, there are times when we may choose to go the direct route.

When sending a QSL direct you will pay the postage for both directions. Traditionally hams have relied on "green stamps" (U.S. dollars) or the IRC (International Reply Coupon) to cover the return postage. An IRC is a coupon that a customer can take to the local post office and exchange it for one unit of first class air mail postage. Currently in the United States an IRC will cost $2.10, but your local post office may not be familiar with this product and may not have them in stock. Not all countries participate in the IRC program. [ here ]

Unfortunately in some countries mail to radio amateurs is targeted for theft by dishonest postal workers.It has become common knowledge among this crowd that these envelopes may contain currency or other valuable items. Because currency and IRCs can be stolen and possession of foreign currency in some countries is illegal many hams use foreign postage stamps to cover the return shipping cost.

There are many good reasons to supply foreign postage stamps on an envelope (SASE -- stamped self-addressed envelope) when sending QSL cards overseas. Buying foreign postage is often less expensive than the oft-requested two green stamps or a single IRC. The SASE makes it easier for the DX operator because he does not have to exchange currency or use the coupon to purchase a stamp. He simply fills out the QSL card, puts in the envelope that you supplied and sticks it in the mail. Most of us who use this method have a 99.99 percent rate of return on QSL cards. (There will always be that one in a thousand who does not return a card no matter how easy you make it for them.) Unlike currency or IRCs, a self addressed envelope stamped with postage of the recipient's country can only be used to send a card to you.

Acquiring foreign postage stamps is easy. There are several stamp dealers who specialize in foreign postage stamps. You may have a local dealer, but if not, here are two dealers with good track records. These folks are familiar with the needs of the DXing radio amateur and can supply mailer and nesting envelopes and other supplies.

James E. Mackey, K3FN
PO Box 270569
West Hartford, CT 06127-0569
Phone: (860) 521-7254

William J. Plum
Airmail Postage & DX Supplies
12 Glenn Road
Flemington, NJ 08822-3322
Tel. (908) 788-1020
Fax (908) 782-2612

Some Tips When Sending A QSL Direct

  • Use shipping and nesting envelopes to avoid folding the inner return envelope. Bulging packages can get torn in processing equipment or are targets for dishonest postal workers.

  • Print clearly when addressing envelopes.

  • Do not use callsigns on shipping or return envelopes. Callsigns are triggers that something of value may be inside.

  • Address the envelope using an appropriate title. (Mr., Mrs., Ms.)

  • Include the name of the country in the addresses.

  • Do not use U.S. postage on return envelopes.

  • Cutoff about a half inch of the lower right corner of the shipping envelope so that postal inspectors can easily look to see that there is nothing of value inside.

  • When sending QSL cards to South and Central America and some parts of Asia it is a good idea to not seal the envelope at all but simply tuck the flap inside. By showing that there is nothing of value the envelope is less likely to be pilfered by dishonest postal workers.

Instructions For Sending A QSL Direct

  1. First, be sure of the QSL route. The station which you want to QSL may have a QSL manager (someone who administers the QSL needs for a DX station). If the QSL manager is in the U.S.A then simply send the QSL card with a SASE using domestic postage.

    If the station uses a foreign QSL manager then you will need postage stamps for the country of the QSL manager.

    Example: Cuban Amateur Radio operator CO8LY uses EA7ADH as his QSL manager. You will need stamps for the country of Spain, not Cuba to get your QSL returned.

  2. Fill out your QSL card completely.

  3. Address the mailer envelope to the DX station. (Don't forget your return address.) Do not use callsigns.

  4. Place a U.S. air mail stamp to this envelope.

  5. Address the return envelope to yourself. Do not use callsigns.

  6. Place the foreign postage stamps on this envelope.

  7. Fold the flap on the return envelope over the front side of the envelope and place the QSL card under the flap so that the glue is not touching the card. DO NOT SEAL THIS ENVELOPE.

  8. Tuck the envelope and card inside the mailer. Seal the mailer or tuck the flap inside securing the inner envelope and QSL card under the flap. Make sure to place the opening of the SASE down in the outside envelope, so that a letter opener won't slice open the SASE when the outer envelope is opened (surprising how often this happens). Now the envelope is ready to mail.

In addition to the ARRL Outgoing QSL bureau and Logbook of The World, direct QSLing is one more tool for a DXer to get the confirmation needed to earn awards. Good luck and good DX.