Logbook of The World QSL rates

I signed up with the ARRL Logbook of The World program a couple of years ago and I upload my log after every period of operating as all it takes is a simple click in Aether, my logging software.  At that time, my return QSL rate was rather low and it took a while for things to start building up.

I’ve heard a lot of criticism about LoTW, many comments are towards the sign up process which I have to agree is quite clunky and for non USA residents, you have to post a photocopy of your licence to the ARRL for verification.  There are step-by-step instructions on the LoTW website and they’re really not that difficult to follow and I had no problem getting it all working.

Another criticism is that the percentage of returns on LoTW are low, I often read comments on Twitter and around the internet that a 25-30% return is the average so I thought I’d do some checking of my own logs.

If I take a look at the top right corner of the LoTW page, I see the following statistics

You have 25,631 QSO records
You have 8,209 QSL records

That works out as a return of just over 32% which ties in roughly with the figure I’ve quoted above but that’s not the full story.  At one point after about a year of using LoTW, I managed to upload a duplicate log.  That’s not normally a problem but the modes had been changed from SSB to either USB or LSB and so they were counted as new QSOs.  The number of QSO records increased but the QSL records didn’t so the first figure above is massively incorrect but the second one ties in very closely with my own records.

I have a number of callsigns which I use and they’re all linked together on LoTW.  I also keep a number of logbooks so it’s possible for me to do some investigating and get an accurate percentage for my QSL rates on LoTW.

The log which has the best return is my special contest callsign which has a 53.6% QSL rate from 1244 QSOs and my lowest is an old VHF only log with 998 QSOs but just 62 QSL records, that’s a mere 6.2% rate.  My main G6NHU HF log with over 15,000 QSOs has a 41.2% QSL return rate which I think is good.

Overall, between the five callsigns and seven logbooks I have a total of 20,511 QSOs and 8,155 QSL records on Logbook of The World giving me an overall return rate of 39.76% which is satisfyingly higher than the often mentioned 25-30%.


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  1. I wonder what the return rate was for QSLs via the Bureau ?

    1. Good question and I can quickly answer that for my main HF log. I’ve sent 1,148 cards and received 175, a rate of 15.2%.

      1. Probably a little early to get sensible stats for the bureau cards: it’s roughly a two year turnaround on average, so I’m guessing only the earlier of your main bulk of contacts would have been confirmed so far?

        For paper QSLing for DXpeditions, I normally work on a rough 33% of QSOs figure for estimating card printing, which in turn leads to about 25% as many cards as QSOs (assuming you combine multiple QSOs on one card).

        I still get a decent number of incoming cards from 2010 (even some for 2008 and 2009) now, and of course they’ve still got a year’s journey back through the bureau to the sender to go…

  2. I agree Rob – I didn’t quote the bureau rates on purpose because it’s not a good comparison due to the delays. I did check direct cards as well but due to OQRS, I’ve received more cards direct than I’ve sent so it’s a meaningless figure at well over 100% 🙂

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