QSL cards – Everything about structure, use, design and shipping

Do you need more information about QSL cards? Here you will find all important information about QSL cards and the design options.

The most important facts at a glance:

  • QSL cards are used by radio amateurs to confirm successfully established connections
  • QSL cards are required to apply for amateur radio diplomas
  • QSL cards are gladly collected and therefore often elaborately designed
  • Mandatory information on a QSL card to apply for many diplomas is: Receiver callsign, date and time in UTC, band or frequency, mode of operation and signal report.
  • QSL cards can be designed online or in a graphics program by yourself or you can use one of our templates
  • QSL cards are sent via the own amateur radio association or directly to the recipient’s address

What is a QSL card and what is it used for?

In the past, QSL cards were used to transmit information about e.g. reception quality to transmitting stations.
Nowadays, however, they are mainly used among amateur radio operators and are used as proof of a successful radio connection.
In order to apply for an amateur radio diploma, a certain amount of QSL cards is often required. Amateur radio diplomas are, so to speak, “trophies” for an achieved minimum number of successfully established radio communications according to certain specifications.
A wide variety of fancy and elaborate designs make QSL cards coveted items for collectors.

Structure and explanation of the QSL card

For QSL cards in amateur radio there are some specifications, so a QSL card should be e.g. between 8.5 cm x 13.5 cm and 10.5 cm x 14.8 cm.
It was also decided by the IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) that the grammage (paper thickness) should be between 170 and 220 g/m² and the size 9 cm x 14 cm. Coding required for sorting should leave at least 1 cm free at the bottom edge.

You have a lot of leeway when designing QSL cards. Only in the design of the back or data page are there important specifications for the structure and the information to be contained.
Missing information or incorrectly entered data, make the QSL card invalid for many diplomas. The following information must be included on QSL cards:

Amateur radio call sign of own station

The call sign is assigned by the Federal Network Agency and consists of a specific sequence of letters and digits. Usually the first two characters (ITU prefix) indicate the nationality of the radio station. The country identifier assigned for Germany includes the double letters DA to DR. An amateur radio certificate is required for the assignment of a call sign.

A list of the assigned call signs can be found at the following link.
Assigned call signs can be searched and viewed at the following link.

Call sign of the receiver

The call sign of the recipient should be entered in the upper right corner.

Date and time of the radio connection

The time is given in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).
The difference between Central European Time and Universal Time UTC is +1 hour.

Frequency and operating mode

Specification of band or frequency on which the radio communication took place.

Evaluation of the received signal (rapport) according to the RST system.

<strong>Readability (R: readability)</strong>

Is rated 1 – 5, where 1 stands for a “barely audible signal” and 5 for “perfectly readable”.

<strong>Signal strength (S: signal strength)</strong>

Is evaluated with 1 – 9+x, where 1 stands for “hardly audible signal “, 9 for “extremely strong signal” and 9+x for “signal is present with x dB above S-9”.

<strong>Tone (T: tone)</strong>

Rated 1 – 9, with 1 representing an “extremely raw AC ” and 9 representing “pure tone”.

Operator's signature (required only for some amateur radio diplomas)

To apply for a Deutschland-Diplom (DLD), a QSL card signed by the sender, preferably handwritten and with the first name only, is required.

QSL Manager

If there is a QSL manager, it must be listed under or next to the callsign. In countries without an amateur radio association, it serves as an intermediary and the QSL cards are not sent directly to the recipients, but through the QSL manager. Furthermore, he checks received cards for correctness and answers them.

Additional information

  • Name and address of the operator of the radio station
  • ITU zone
  • Country or province
  • Country part
  • Local chapter of the amateur radio organization
  • QTH locator (specification of the location based on the longitude and latitude)
  • Information on station equipment (devices, transmitting power, antenna)

Design of QSL cards front side

There are practically no restrictions on the design of the front page, but care should be taken to ensure that the content is not offensive, racist, pornographic or similar.

Some QSL cards design examples:

Changes not allowed

The own callsign and DOK (identification of the local associations used by the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC)) must not be handwritten on the QSL card.
When obtaining new permit classes and consequently changing callsigns, the old callsign must not be changed manually. This QSL cards invalid. The same is true when changing locations. However, QSL cards modified with a stamp are accepted.

Where do I get my QSL cards?

Download QSL Cards Photoshop Templates or design your own in other graphics programs

If you are experienced in using graphics programs you can use and customize our Photoshop or Illustrator / Corel Draw templates for your QSL cards. These are already created in the correct format. All you have to do is exchange images and data and send the print data to your print shop. You can download the templates from the following links:

Download QSL Cards Photoshop Template: Download
Download QSL Cards Illustrator / Corel Draw template: Download


  • Possibly cheaper
  • Own ideas can be realized


  • Appropriate software and knowledge are required
  • Increased time required for creation
  • A suitable printing company must be found
  • Possible errors when exporting the print data

Design QSL cards in the online editor

Sie können QSL-Karten ganz einfach in unserem Online Editor gestalten und bestellen.


  • Easy handling, without any previous knowledge
  • Print included
  • Control of the designed cards before printing
  • Fast and free delivery
  • Wide scope for design


  • Possibly more expensive than homemade QSL cards
  • A little creativity needed

Choose QSL Card Template and Order Online

Choose from a variety of our QSL card templates and fill in your individual data. We offer designs from different categories like retro, cities, modern, maps and we are constantly expanding our archive.


  • Very easy handling and customization
  • Wide range of motifs
  • Quick creation of the cards
  • No creative streak needed
  • Fast and free delivery


  • Possibly more expensive than homemade QSL cards
  • No individual one-offs

How do I send my QSL cards?

Mostly the QSL cards are collected in QSL offices and sent via the own amateur radio association to the offices of other countries, where they are distributed againrum.

To answer received cards, radio amateurs, with many incoming QSL cards, or from areas with poor postal connection, often use QSL managers.

QSL cards can also be sent directly to the address of the recipient or responsible QSL manager, if the sender requests a quick response.

Occasionally, postage is also requested to save the recipient the cost of the reply.

Order QSL cards online now

Choose from one of our many QSL card templates and order online.