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RAC Outgoing QSL Bureau
P.O. BOX 11156
Station “H”
Ottawa, ON,
K2H 7T9

The QSL Bureau Tips

RAC Membership
RAC Affiliation
Packaging and Mailing Strategy
Sorting Strategy
Some Other Tips
Why is the QSL Bureau so slow?
Return to QSL Bureau page

The Outgoing QSL bureau is available to RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada) members only. Before you send QSL cards for distribution via this Bureau make sure that:

  • You are a RAC member.
  • Your RAC membership has not expired. You must be an RAC member when the Bureau RECEIVES your QSL cards.You have indicated the call sign for which RAC membership has been paid. This is important if you have recently changed your call sign (e.g. 3-letter to 2-letter suffix) or if you have used a special callsign or prefix.
  • You have verified your membership on the RAC WEB page. This is the page we use to check the membership, because it is frequently updated, and expired memberships are automatically deleted.
  • Your club is an RAC Affiliated club in case you submit club’s QSL cards.
  • We check the RAC membership no matter how the VE/VA cards are sent to us: Directly by the members, or via Provincial QSL bureaus. Non-member’s QSL cards are returned after the notice is sent. We return all QSL cards to foreign bureaus if the cards have been misdirected in our QSL system.

RAC Membership

The eligible RAC members are:

Individual members who have paid-up their membership.
Family members who live at the SAME address as the paid-up member. Family members should always indicate the paid-up member’s call sign.
RAC members with several call signs (even in different VE provinces), with the membership paid for at least one call sign. The name should be identical on all QSL cards for all call signs. Always indicate the call of the paid-up membership.
Portable operation of the member (e.g. VE3EXY/2 is accepted since VE3EXY is RAC member).
For VE QSL managers the requirement is that the QSL client (but not necessarily the manager) is a fully paid-up RAC member. The manager must be a paid up member if he sends his own cards.

RAC Affiliation

RAC offers QSL card processing to RAC Affiliated clubs. You can find more on club affiliation on the RAC web page

Affiliation details:

  • The affiliated club must follow RAC approved affiliation procedure.
  • It must be listed on the RAC WEB site above. Always indicate the club name as written on the RAC WEB page (e.g. not KWARC but Kitchener Waterloo Amateur Radio Club).
  • Affiliation applies to club’s call sign, not to its members. This means we do not handle QSL cards for members of RAC Affiliated clubs, unless they are RAC members themselves.
  • If the trustee of the club is an RAC member, the club is not automatically affiliated. The RAC affiliation procedure is to be followed.
  • If the club is using a special call sign, indicate the name/call under which the club is affiliated.
    Frequently check RAC WEB page for your affiliation status.

QSL Card Packaging and Mailing Strategy

The overall strategy of the QSL bureau is to send QSL cards as frequently as possible, while keeping operating costs as low as possible. The strategy we use is based on minimizing postal expenses through careful packaging.

QSL cards are always sent via surface mail to the foreign QSL bureaus. We package QSL cards in ‘small packets’ in the following weights: 250 gr, 500 gr, 1 kg, and 2 kg. We always package as closely as possible to those values, to maintain the desired frequency of QSL cards mailings. However, there are extremes: There are bureaus to which we send QSL cards every two weeks, and others to which we send once in several months when we have accumulated the minimum number of cards for mailing.

You should apply a similar strategy when sending QSL cards to the bureau. There are amateurs who send cards every week, others once a year or less. Frequent sending has benefits, in that the probability of missing our mailing to a foreign bureau is minimized. On the other hand, by carefully choosing the weight of the packet, you can minimize your postal expenses.

Another benefit of frequent sending is that the foreign amateur will probably get his/her card sooner, and respond sooner, rather than later.

Sorting Strategy

Sorting QSL cards is definitely the area where you can help a lot. The general rule is that cards should be sorted by the order in IARU QSL BUREAUS list, not by the alphabetical order of prefixes. The same IARU list shows all countries where the QSL Bureaux are CLOSED.

The most frequent sorting errors are related to US QSL cards sorting. One should remember that there are 11 (eleven) QSL Bureaux in the contiguous US states. They match call areas 0-9, but the W4 call area has two QSL bureaus: one letter prefix bureau, and two letter prefix bureau. In other words N4, W4 and K4 go to one bureau, all other W4 Area cards in the two-letter prefix bureau. There should not be more than eleven batches of cards for contiguous US bureaux when properly sorted.

Note also that US Possessions and Outlying areas have separate bureaus: KP3/4, KP2, KH6/7, KL7, KH2. Observe their N, and W pairs (e.g. NH6=KH6, WL7=KL7, etc). Cards for countries with several prefixes should be sorted together (e.g. G and M cards, HL and DS cards, SP and HF cards go together).

You are responsible for finding a DX station’s manager. If you don’t, your cards will end up in the wrong bureaus. Do not expect someone else to do this job for you. We handle tens of thousands of cards and trying to find the manager for each DX QSL card would be an impossible task for the volunteers at the Bureau.

Today, finding the QSL manager is much easier than previously. There are many WEB sites, as well as CD-ROMs that serve this purpose. Some WEB sites even have multiple database searches, and provide comparison of search results. Here are a couple of web sites to help finding QSL managers. The list is not considered exhaustive.

Once the manager is found, his/her call should be written in the right top corner of the card on the same side as the DX call. The card will be sorted into the QSL bureau of the MANAGER, not the DX station’s bureau.

For example, VK6ISL QSL card (recent Sandy Islet operation, manager VE3LYC) would be sorted to the VE3 pile, rather than to VK6 bureau pile.

Portable operation should be sent to the ‘native’ country. For example, SV5/VE3EXY/P should be sent to the VE bureau, not to the SV bureau, unless specified differently by the DX station.

Some Other Tips

Here are some other details of QSLing that make handling and processing of QSL cards faster and easier:

Type of paper: Choose 130gr/(sq) m, or (50 lb/stock) type of paper for QSL cards. Use 90×140 mm (3.5″x5.5 “) card size. Cards made of lighter paper can easily be bent, damaged, or lost. Heavier and out-sized cards unnecessarily add to the weight of the QSL packets.

Special Call Signs: If you are an RAC member, or an RAC-affiliated club, and use a special (typically unlisted) call sign, make sure to notify your local QSL bureau. For want of this notification, some cards go through several bureaus before they reach the right one. Sometimes they never reach the operator.

Not interested in QSLs?: If you do not want to claim your cards from QSL Bureau, please notify your Provincial bureau. This will reduce the costs and storage space at the bureaus.

2 kg QSL Cards limit: To limit the over-use of the QSL Bureau, typically by some contest stations, currently there is a limit of 2 kg of QSL cards per year/per member. We charge for extra weight.

QSLs for Countries without QSL Bureaus: We have listed the countries for which we do not handle QSL cards. Unless you specify a manager served by a bureau, most of these QSL cards will be returned to the sender. Note that we do not send cards to individuals, but to QSL bureaus. Exceptions are some QSL managers for which we know return QSL cards via the bureau.

Why is the QSL Bureau so slow?

Sender: Each and every QSO in the log is not necessarily QSL-ed. Some people are not interested, some send QSL cards only to DX stations, and some do not QSL contest QSOs. Some people only respond when they receive a QSL card, or simply do not have cards printed. Also, people have different hobbies and life styles, and may leave QSL writing for ‘later’, typically many months, if not years, after the QSO was made. Computerized logs make it easier for sticker printing, and effective QSL card sending.

Outgoing VE QSL Bureau: The mailing strategy has already been described. In some cases it can take up to several months before the cards are actually sent from the bureau. In most cases it is much less. In addition, it may take several weeks for the QSL cards to be transported via postal system (and Customs) to the DX country’s bureau.

Claiming the cards: In many DX countries the principle is much the same as in Canada. Amateurs claim QSL cards from the bureaus, and pay a minimum handling fee and postage. However, there are amateurs, including managers, who do not know how, or where, to claim the cards. Sometimes they intentionally avoid claiming the cards, leaving them at the bureau for years. Some bureaus destroy the cards, some bureaus, return the cards. Some amateurs claim the cards but do not respond to cards received through the bureau. In some other countries, organizations are subsidized, and delivery is done through clubs free of charge.

Foreign QSL Bureaus: Many QSL Bureaus in the world are chronically under-funded. Some exist only as an address for incoming QSL cards. In some cases they even regularly package QSL cards, but they defer sending until they get some funds. This extends the QSL card waiting period for cards from these countries.

Provincial QSL Bureaus: Arriving at the provincial QSL bureau, the cards are further sorted by volunteers by the first letter in the suffix. This may typically take another week or two. Finally, cards arrive to letter sorters, who wait until some minimal number of cards for the VE client station is accumulated before sending them out. Typically cards are sent 3-4 times a year (as soon as they are received), or once every year or longer for less active users. Sorters keep the cards for several years. If the cards are not claimed, they are returned to the DX Bureaus.

We hope you find this information useful, and that it will help you to send and receive cards more efficiently.

73 Nenad VE3EXY ….