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Author Topic: QSL card timing  (Read 2985 times)

Posts: 13

« on: July 31, 2002, 05:29:37 PM »

1.  How long till a card I send via bureau reaches the ham overseas?
2.  How long till a card sent from overseas reaches me via the incoming bureau?
3.  How willing are VOICE hams to use the bureau for "free" both ways?  How many want/need GS?
4.  Anything else?  

I have 130 entities in five months on a vertical, five confirmed.   Looking to understand how much patience is needed.

Posts: 21808

« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2002, 06:54:30 PM »

There are no guarantees for these issues. I did work as a QSL sorter/manager (assignments are by letters of the alphabet, per call area) and got a pretty good feel for this; and also have used the Bureau (both ways) for 35+ years of QSLing, so have a good feel for the user perspective, too.

My impression regarding "how long" is: Shortest possible time is 3 weeks, one way.  There is no "longest" possible time, since mail carried via sea routes have no guaranteed delivery period and also cards are only bulk mailed once an appropriate quantity are compiled.  This will vary with season and other factors.  The Bureaus are probably "most busy," both outgoing and incoming, during DX contest season, which is from November through May.  From June through October is the doldrums, although there is an IARU contest in there, and some IOTA stuff.

Since I have many relatives overseas, I can easily check how long it takes ordinary posted (non-air) mail to reach places, and it can be a long time.  To Germany, about 3 weeks.  To the Philippines, about two months.  That's one-way, without delays for sorting and compiling by bureaus.

I mailed a first-class letter from Rio deJaneiro to Sao Paulo, Brazil (within the same country) and it took 2-1/2 weeks to get there.  Think about that one.

Patience is a virtue, for sure.

"Long delayed QSLs" are the norm, especially via Bureau services -- nobody to blame.  I just recently (about 8 weeks ago) received a QSL card from a station in "East Berlin" (which no longer exists), for a QSO made in 1980, only 22 years ago.

As for "GS" vs. "free," you cannot mail IRC's or "green stamps" via the bureau, so this doesn't apply, there.  For direct-mailed cards, a "GS" or two along with a self-addressed envelope does seem to assure a much higher direct return rate, regardless of mode operated.  I would expect that even for a direct-mailed card, if I did not include an SAE and either cash or IRC's, my return card would be via the Bureau.


Posts: 52

« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2002, 03:54:45 AM »

If the country has a good HAM population the QSL-bureaus are the best (cheapest)way. If there is only a small number of HAM's even with a QSL-bureau in that country sending cards may be expensive even via the bureau. For example in Germany the costs for bureaus cards are paid with our membership fee.
Malta on the other side has a QSL bureau but every outgoing card costs about 10-15 UScent extra. So the Maltese HAM's prefer direct post and don't like to answer a contest via the bureau service.
Talking about the time needed for bureau cards I would say that within a year are 80% of the answered cards back to you.
Holger DL7IO

Posts: 73


« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2002, 12:13:15 AM »

Just as another data point. I've worked 103 countries in the last 6 months (some many times) and have 70 confirmed. I've sent a literal ton through the buro, but have recieved 5 in return (none of them new). All  70 confirmations came through by QSL'ing direct. Expensive, but effective.

I'm confident the Buro cards will come.

I QSL all new ones direct until confirmed. All additional cards to that country after intial confirmation go through the buro...  Actually I use WF5E QSL service.

Drop a few direct QSL's in the mail to keep your spirits up until the Buro cards start coming in.



Posts: 16

« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2002, 07:26:25 PM »

I also favor direct QSLs with SAE.  I have slipped in a GS here and there when I am aware of the DX ham's preference (or request), but have not yet gone the SASE route, although Bill Plum's stamp service ( is quite intriguing.  Have logged 75 countries in six weeks on the air after a 38-year absence, and expect to use outgoing services such as W5FE or the overseas bureaus for the majority of cards after sending direct to the first couple in each new country.  A very helpful website to check QSL managers is SM5ARL (

73, George W1EBI
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