QSL Cards are the lifeblood of the 3905 Century Club.  One condition — and in fact about the only one — that we place on participation in our nets is the willingness and commitment to QSL all contacts made on our nets.  And members volunteering their services to operate QSL Bureaus make that easy and economical to do by providing QSL Bureau services for contacts made on our nets.

The QSL Bureaus are fast and very economical vs mailing QSL cards directly, making them the only logical QSL route for both their speed and their economy.

The QSL Bureaus are fast because incoming cards are sorted almost every day and are mailed to you as soon as one of your envelopes is full.

The QSL Bureaus are economical because they operate at cost, and because cards can be sent in at least 8–10 to an envelope and return QSLs are sent with the same economy.  This represents approximately a 90% savings over exchanging individual cards directly.

For the Domestic QSL Bureaus, your cost consists of the cost to send your cards to the bureaus plus your cost for self-addressed stamped envelopes (SASEs) in which cards for you will be returned, or you can avoid sending in envelopes and take advantage of the option to just send funds on account and let the QSL Bureau prepare envelopes for you as needed.  See Cost Comparison - QSL via Bureau vs QSL Direct.

For the DX QSL Bureau, your cost is your cost of mailing your cards to the bureau plus a contribution of $1 per ounce of postage used to send cards to the DX Bureau.  This contribution pays for distributing your QSLs to the DX stations and return of cards from the DX stations to you via the Domestic QSL Bureaus, where you must maintain SASEs or funds on deposit in order to receive your cards.  Use of the DX QSL Bureau represents a substantial savings in both cost, time and aggravation over obtaining DX QSLs directly.

You don't have to be a member of the club to use the QSL Bureaus, but they are ONLY for QSLs for contacts made on our nets.  The only requirements for use of the Domestic QSL Bureau(s) for contacts made on our nets are that you ensure that you have SASES or funds in the Domestic QSL Bureau(s) at all times.  You should probably start out by sending in 6–10 SASEs of the size that each bureau prefers and then more as you make contacts and cards are returned to you.  (See Detailed Info for Each Bureau regarding envelope and funds plans.)

If you choose to send SASEs to the bureaus, the first batch of SASEs you send should really be a minimum of 10 envelopes if you have already made a number of contacts, sent along with the cards you send to the bureau for distribution.  You can expect the QSL Bureau Manager to send 10 or so cards back to you in each of your SASES for each unit of postage on the SASE.  If you're just starting in the bureau and you had 27 contacts that you're sending cards in for, you should send along maybe 10 SASES.  Approximately 3 of the SASES will take care of returning your cards for those first contacts leaving you with 7 on file in the bureau for future cards to be sent to you before you need to send in more envelopes, though you should send in more before you run out.  (Again, see Detailed Info for Each Bureau regarding envelope and funds plans.

When sending your cards to the Bureaus be sure they are fully filled out with all the information from the contact including both signal reports.  There is a lot of information that is needed when applying for one or more of our many awards and in most cases this information MUST be written on the card by the sender.  We have quite an involved "culture" surrounding QSLing contacts made on our nets to assure that QSLs received are usable toward all of our awards.  See Recommended QSL Practices for details on the information required on QSL cards.

If you work a mobile station, be sure to include the state in which they were mobile and both signal reports on the card.  Mobiles cannot log safely when in motion, and some don't log even when parked.  Those not logging will need all pertinent info (See Recommended QSL Practices) on the card you send to them if they are to be able to generate a return QSL to you.

You should send in 1 SASE to the bureau for every approximately 8–10 cards you send to the bureau.  DO NOT send SASEs to the DX or Handiham Bureaus.  Your DX cards and return cards from Handihams will be sent to you thru the Domestic QSL Bureaus, where you should keep envelopes or funds on deposit.

Some people, in starting out, are hesitant to use the QSL Bureaus because of their experience with the ARRL DX Bureaus, which although performing a fine service do tend to be rather slow.  By contrast, the volunteers operating the QSL Bureaus servicing our nets are fast and mailings occur almost every day… as soon as your envelope gets full.

If you plan to check into the 3905 Century Club nets at least somewhat regularly, then the QSL Bureaus are really the only way to go in terms of convenience and economy to all involved.  Remaining "direct" (meaning cards must be sent to you directly) increases the expense of QSLing close to 10X… and requiring a SASE be sent to you before you will return a QSL increases the expense to others close to 20X.  Choosing either of those practices will prove to be a significant impediment to either making contacts or getting QSLs for those contacts due to the expense it imposes on others, many of whom are on fixed incomes.

You can perform an online Good in the Bureau Check to determine whether a station you have contacted is good in the QSL Bureaus, or you may download a program to do off-line checks on your own computer, both at the link just shown.  “Good in the Bureau” or “GIB” means a station has SASEs (self-addressed stamped envelopes) or funds on hand in the indicated QSL Bureau(s).

The volunteer QSL Bureau Managers and the bureaus they manage may be found in our list of Club Officers.  There you'll find mention of which nets are covered by each bureau and a link to the individual bureau pages where additional information for best use of each bureau will be found.


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