Two Letter Prefix "4" Calls Incoming QSL Bureau General Information

Updated: 23 May 10

Sterling Park QSL Bureau
Two Letter Prefix "4" Calls
Call Box 599
Sterling, VA, 20167

The following information is provided for your assistance in using this ARRL QSL bureau.  The ARRL supports the bureau for use by all amateurs but League membership is not required.  These procedures will facilitate receiving your cards promptly, and help us do our job more efficiently.  We encourage reproducing and distributing this information at training classes and club meetings.

We only serve amateurs with two-letter prefix "4" calls.  One-letter prefix “4” calls are handled by the Carolina DX Assn., PMB #305, 631 Brawley School Road, STE 200B, Mooresville, NC 28117-6209.  If you live in the fourth call area, but don't have a "4" in your callsign, you should contact the Bureau serving your call sign area.  See the ARRL website for addresses, or send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to ARRL for information.  This Bureau is for INCOMING DX cards only.  Outgoing DX cards must be sent directly to ARRL Headquarters, 225 Main St., Newington, CT, 06111.  The outgoing Bureau requires League membership and a fee for service.  (See the ARRL website for full details).  Cards for contacts within the  continental U.S. must be sent direct.

     To receive your DX cards sent via the Bureau, send us end opening envelopes between 5 by 7 1/2 and 6 by 9 inches ONLY.  Although clasp envelopes technically require extra postage under new postal regulations, in practice they have not been a problem as long as we neatly fold and/or tape them before mailing.  We will gladly accept self-sealing envelopes as long as they have protective paper covering the seal.  PRINT your callsign CLEARLY in the upper left-hand corner of each envelope.  Address each envelope to yourself in the center.  Please send us your envelopes for filing before you expect to start receiving incoming cards.  Acceptable envelopes are readily available in small packages at stores like Walmart, K-Mart, and larger drug chains; and in boxes of 100 at Office Max, Staples, Office Depot, etc.  Larger envelopes are too large for our files, and require additional postage.  If necessary, we will accept 6 1/2 by 9 1/2 inch envelopes but they must include postage for “large envelopes” (see USPS website for rates).  Standard (letter or legal size) envelopes get lost in the files, and don't take the larger DX cards.  We recommend sending  several envelopes at a time, but don't send more than you might reasonably expect to receive in a year's time, since our file space is limited.  Envelopes not meeting these specifications, or padded envelopes, may be returned to you empty.

"How much postage should I put on my envelopes" is a question we're often asked.  For most folks, a single first class stamp is recommended (please use "forever" (liberty bell) stamps, so there's no need to send us "add on" postage when rates increase).  Note that two first class stamps is good for three ounces, so if you do not want to wait for 15 or more cards, do not put two stamps on your envelopes.  Due to new postal pricing for “large envelopes”, postage for envelopes greater than three ounces is usually not recommended and is a waste of your money.  However, real "big guns" may want to put 7 or 8 ounces of postage on envelopes.  Check for current rates.  We will not mail more than 8 ounces in a single envelope, regardless of postage applied, due to the propensity of envelopes to break open in postal handling, and the possible need for parcel post pricing.  Do not use dated meters for postage, as the post office expects them to be used when issued, and the “mailed from” city is wrong.  Cards are typically mailed on a one to three month cycle, dependent upon incoming volume.  Excessive postage or low incoming volume will delay mailing since we fill envelopes to the weight of the postage applied.  Typically 5 or 6 cards will weigh about an ounce in a normal envelope.  Additional ounces are usually 6 to 8 cards, depending upon card thickness.  If you anticipate that your mailings could exceed an ounce, you may staple some additional postage to the top envelope which we can use if and when needed.  We normally mail envelopes in the order they are in our files, regardless of the postage applied to individual envelopes.  We do not sell stamps or envelopes, so please don't send us money for these.  (However, we do make this service available at selected hamfests, where you complete your envelopes on site).

Envelopes are filed by callsign; therefore, you must maintain separate envelopes for each individual call for which you could receive cards.  We can not cross reference upgrades, vanity calls, family calls, etc.  We can not be held responsible for separating old and new holders of vanity calls, or for the accuracy of cards routed via “QSL managers”.  Remember that cards may come 5 or more years after the original contact.  When you send in your envelopes, you may include a self-addressed postcard which we will return to you to assure you that your envelopes have arrived safely.

Please don't request special services such as "mail monthly", mail in a certain order, ask us to mail other than first class, etc.  Since the post office usually returns overweight envelopes to us, we will not mail cards if sufficient postage is not available to mail them.  Also, since they often return old, reused envelopes, envelopes with dated meters, and envelopes where the postage is covered with tape, please do not send us any of these.  We will include "last envelope" notices when applicable.  Please replenish your envelopes within two weeks of receiving a last envelope notice, or make sure that you always have envelopes on file.  Otherwise, your cards will wind up in our “unclaimed” files resulting in extra handling effort and processing delays.  Unclaimed cards are a major problem, and they can not be retained indefinitely.  While we may attempt to contact stations that may not be familiar with bureau operations, it is not our practice to notify stations of accumulated QSLs on a regular basis.  We don’t make a practice of checking our “unclaimed” files for individual calls except when new envelopes arrive.  Cards may be destroyed or returned to sender if they remain unclaimed for more than 90 days and a “last envelope” notice and/or a mailed notice or email has been sent without a positive response.  Upon request, we will be glad to provide you with the status of your envelopes at the Bureau at any time (SASE for “snail mail” response appreciated), or will mail all cards currently on file for you.  Be sure to include your callsign(s) and full address on any correspondence.  You may also use the email address below.  Since all requests must be handled through the volunteer network and researched when time is available, please allow 4-6 weeks for reply.

     If you move, be SURE to notify us of your new address.  Large self adhesive labels that we can place on your envelopes are desired.  We stamp our return address in the upper left hand corner of each envelope under your call to ensure delivery (so don’t enter yours), but if your envelopes are returned to us by the Post Office for lack of a current address, and your FCC (callbook) address is also obsolete, your cards will likely wind up being destroyed.  (Hence, remember to notify the FCC of any address change).

     BE PATIENT!  Cards we receive from the foreign Bureaus are at least several months to many years old before they ever arrive here.   (Even longer if marked “TNX QSL”).   Then they must be sorted by  the letter following the "4", distributed to the appropriate letter manager, additionally sorted by call, put into proper envelopes, and mailed. 

Nearly three dozen amateurs volunteer their time, and a portion of their shacks, to sorting and distributing cards and envelopes.  If  you think  we do a good job, send us a "thank you" note which will be forwarded to your letter manager.  If you feel there is a problem, send me a note or E-mail and I will look into it.  

                                                           73 and Good DX,

                                                           Dick Maylott, W2YE
                                                           Manager, Sterling Park QSL Bureau
                                                           E-mail [email protected] or [email protected]

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Single-letter,"4" Callsign Area Incoming QSL Info

CarolinaDX Assn, PMB #305
631 Brawley School Road, STE 200B
Mooresville, NC, 28117-6209
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ARRL Outgoing QSL Information

ARRL Outgoing QSL Service
225 Main Street
Newington CT 06111-1494

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QSL Bureau Q&A

Q: What is the address to write to for the Two-Letter, 4-Callsign area Incoming QSL Buro?

A: You can send all correspondance, QSL envelopes, questions, or SPARC membershipinformation to our adderss, which is: The Sterling Park Amateur Radio Club Call Box 599 Sterling, VA 20167.

Q: I've worked a number of foreign stations that have said "I will QSL via the bureau". What does that mean?

A: In a nutshell, it means that they will occasionally prepare a batch of their outgoing QSLs for past QSOs and send them to their National amateur radio organization (like our ARRL). Periodically, these organizations will sort and ship cards gathered from various amateurs throughout their country to the various QSL Bureaus located throughout the world. Then individual amateurs make arrangements to obtain their incoming cards from their own local QSL Bureau.

Q: Does that mean I must be a member of the American Radio Relay League to participate in QSLing through the Bureau?

A: No, the Bureaus will accept cards for ARRL members and nonmembers alike; however, in order to ship your outgoing QSLs, you must be an ARRL member and pay a small fee for service. (See ARRL web site).

Q: I've never used a Bureau before, but have worked some DX in the past. Can I see if I have cards on file before sending envelopes?

A: NO. It is not practical to check our files of unclaimed cards for an individual callsign. Also, we do not keep unclaimed cards indefinitely, and they may be discarded or returned to sender if envelopes are not kept on file with us. You should always maintain self addressed, stamped envelopes on file for any call for which you could receive cards. Check our general information sheet for details on what sizes are acceptable, and how to prepare them.

Q: I'd rather just send you a check. Is this OK?

A: NO. This bureau does not sell postage or envelopes (unless we have a table at selected hamfests, where you complete the envelopes on the spot). Volunteers do not handle cash accounts. (Any funds received which are designated for postage are exchanged for stamps, which delays forwarding your envelopes until the Bureau manager can get to the Post Office).

Q: I've upgraded twice, and now have a vanity callsign. Can you combine cards for all my calls in a single envelope?

A: NO. Envelopes are filed by call and different calls are maintained at various locations, and we have no way to cross reference upgrades, family calls, etc. Depending on callsign, you may have to maintain envelopes at different bureaus. Remember, we only handle calls with two letters before the "4" in the callsign.

 Q: OK, I guess I need some more information. Where can I get it?

A: Check out our QSL information sheet. If you still have unanswered questions, our general E-mail address is [email protected]

Q: I think I have envelopes on file, but I'd like to be sure. How can I check?

A: For routine inquiries, you may check directly with your letter manager, who maintains your cards and envelopes at his home QTH, (providing he/she has E-mail). Otherwise, the Bureau manager will check and let you know. Look at the letter immediately after the 4 in your callsign; that is your letter manager. Soon you will be able to contact that manager and check on the status of your cards.

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