All about QSL cards
What is a QSL card?
Many radio amateurs still carry on the tradition of using a QSL card as a confirmation of a contact with another amateur station. More commonly today it is a selective practice - used when you make a first contact with a country, or would particularly like to receive a QSL in return.
The "QSL" comes from the Q-code (this code is a topic in the Amateur Regulations Examination) which basically means "acknowledge", thus a QSL card is an acknowledgement card.
A QSL card contains some basic information - the amateur stations callsign, location, licensee's name and postal address, and often details about the amateur station equipment. It will also include details of the contact, the date/time, frequency, mode of transmission, and signal report.
QSL Bureau history
It is believed that the first QSL cards appeared around 1923 or 1924, at the same time radio amateurs pioneered regular trans-pacific and trans-atlantic radio contacts on shortwave.
The cost of postage for QSL cards was quite expensive, and WIA members began to pool their cards and send them overseas in bulk at cheaper postage rates. The first QSL Bureau in Australia began in about 1928. Within a few years there were bureaux operating in all Australian states and the major countries around the world. They operate like a specialist post office just for QSL cards.
The VK3 Bureau is one of Australia's most efficient QSL Bureau, with a separate operation for incoming and outgoing cards. This is a free service to members and/or WIA members. It receives more than 10,000 cards from overseas each month. To use the service members need to be registered with the Bureau and nominate one of the 15 distribution points from which they wish to receive their cards. Batches of cards are sent to the distribution points every 90 days.
Size and other restrictions
QSL cards should not exceed 140mm by 90mm or be less than 125mm by 80mm. They must not be printed on lightweight paper. (such as 80gsm copy paper). QSL's.
Preferred weight is in the range 120 -180gsm. The callsign of the station to receive the card is written on the top right hand corner.
The card size and placement of the recipient callsign were made standard worldwide some years ago to make it easier to sort and handle large quantities of cards.
The QSL Bureau only exchange cards between themselves, and there are a very few countries which don't have a bureau. In these cases, radio amateurs wanting a card from a non-bureau country must QSL direct by using the normal postage system.
VK3 Outwards QSL Bureau
This free service is available only to Amateur Radio Victoria and/or WIA financial members.
For this service to continue to be provided at no additional charge, members need to correctly address each of their cards by designating the preferred prefix of the destination bureau.
Cards are forwarded to I.A.R.U. officially recognised bureau only. Each of these bureau has a preferred prefix.
Only the preferred prefix of the destination bureau must be printed in the top right hand corner on the front or back of the card. e.g. A card forwarded to Korea for DS1AA would have printed in the top corner 'HL'.
Cards must be sorted and grouped together for the respective destination bureau. Cards to be forwarded should be sent or delivered to the Amateur Radio Victoria office and clearly marked.
The Bureau will not accept responsibility for cards incorrectly addressed.
Special note Russian states changed their prefix allocations between 1992 and 1994 with many previous prefixes now allocated to different states. Most states now maintain their own bureau instead of the centralised Box 88, Moscow.
QSL cards sent for contact prior to 1994 will need to be carefully checked to ascertain the current correct QSL route.
The practice of some members to send cards for every QSO with the same station on the same band is overloading both our bureau and overseas bureau. If this continues it will ultimately result in a charge being placed on all outwards cards.