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LoTW User Guide
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I’ve created this unofficial user guide for ARRL’s Logbook of The World to supplement the help available from the LoTW site. It is a work-in-progress that in places refers to Logger32 simply because that’s the logging software I use. Feedback and additional content is very welcome.

Quick links

  1. Why should I bother with LoTW?
  2. Joining LoTW
  3. Using LoTW - some Hinson tips
  4. Download your whole log from LoTW in an emergency
  5. Checking/correcting your CQ and ITU zones and locator in LoTW
  6. Applying for DXCC or WAS awards using LoTW
  7. Archive your LoTW certificate/s and log/s [important - trust me!]
  8. Update your log to show countries credited (granted) for DXCC
  9. Generate an online DXCC application - identify the QSL cards to submit for checking
  10. Find out who else is using LoTW
  11. “Official” help on LoTW
  12. A wishlist for LoTW enhancements

Why should I bother with Logbook of The World (LoTW)?

Because of the buzz you’ll get from seeing things like this ...

Nigel is a star


If you are a serious DXer, you know how frustrating it can be waiting for QSLs to arrive to confirm each new country. Whether you send QSLs and $$ direct or just hope for cards to arrive via the worldwide QSL bureaux, collecting confirmations on paper can be tedious, not to mention expensive. Then once you’ve got your tidy little stack of QSL cards and you wish to apply for awards such as DXCC or WAS, you still need to get them checked and verified by the relevant organization.

Quite simply, LoTW makes the whole process quicker, easier, cheaper and safer .

With LoTW, you upload your log periodically to the ARRL’s LoTW website where it is entered into a database system that cross-matches your QSO details against other uploaded logs, generating electronic confirmations for all QSOs that match. LoTW confirmations normally come through within days or weeks, as soon as both parties to a QSO upload their logs to LoTW.

Those ticks in the box against Tristan da Cunha & Gough Is meant that both I and Nigel ZD9XF had uploaded our QSO information to LoTW. The LoTW system had found two matches, and noted that ZD9 is a new DXCC country for me. The confirmations came through just a few days after the QSOs at essentially zero cost to both of us.

The LoTW system tracks your progress towards DXCC, VUCC, WAS and WPX awards and, when you are ready to claim your awards, it handles the application electronically for you. For QSOs that have been verified in LoTW, there is no need to sort out QSL cards, fill out the application form and submit the cards for verification. However you may still choose to submit QSL cards for specific DXCC countries or US states for those bands and modes which are not yet confirmed on LoTW ... or you can just be patient in the hope that eventually you will get them all in LoTW anyway.

By the way, there is nothing stopping you exchanging paper QSLs as well as using LoTW. These are not mutually exclusive options. Many of us enjoy collecting picture postcards from exotic foreign places to show off to our ham friends and amaze our long-suffering families. Even if you are not collecting QSL cards, I encourage you to respond to incoming paper QSL requests as a courtesy to other hams regardless of whether you also use LoTW.

Back to quick links

Joining LoTW

The process to join LoTW is a little complicated because it is a secure system. It uses digital certificates to authenticate submitted logs and prevent people uploading false or fraudulent logs for others (authenticated users are trusted to submit accurate logs for themselves!). So the first stage is to obtain your digital certificate from ARRL.

Obtain your digital certificate from ARRL

LoTW process 740

  1. Download and install TrustedQSL (TQSL) for Windows, MacOs or [knit your own] Linux.
  2. Using TQSL , generate a callsign certificate request . This involves entering basic station information such as your name and callsign and creating the .tq5 file that you will submit to ARRL. They then check the details. US hams’ details are verified using the FCC’s systems. Non -US hams have to submit a copy of their license to ARRL HQ by post, or to a local ARRL -authorized DXCC card checker, to get it checked against the certificate request, for their first certificate anyway. If everything is OK, ARRL emails you back your callsign certificate.
  3. Load the callsign certificate onto the same computer you used to create the certificate request using TQSL. The certificate is matched up with the certificate request and verified, just in case anything got corrupted on the way. If it all checks out, you can now start using the callsign certificate to sign your logs and upload them to LoTW ...
  4. Meanwhile, backup your certificates and settings in TQSL.  Save the backup safely offline e.g. on a USB memory stick or CD-ROM.  Trust me, when (not if!) something nasty happens to your computer, it is much easier to restore from the backup than to go through the process of re-authenticating and applying for replacement certificates.
  5. Provided you have one current, valid callsign certificate, you can use it to generate and sign electronic online requests for further certificates e.g. for other calls you hold, or for replacement certificates when yours are about to expire.  Don’t forget to backup your new certificates!

Upload your first log to LoTW

  1. Generate an ADIF output file from your logging program containing the QSOs you want to upload to LoTW (most likely your entire log at the start. Subsequently, you will normally only send new QSOs since the previous LoTW upload).  If you use multiple callsigns, select just the QSOs under a callsign for which you have a digital certificate, and be sure to use the correct certificate for the call and location from which QSOs were made.
  2. Electronically sign the ADIF file using TQSL . This generates a digital signature based on the content of the ADIF file and your private key, allowing ARRL (or indeed others) to verify the data using the public key on your digital certificate. The digital signature is appended to the QSO data in the ADIF file, and the whole thing is then uploaded to LoTW.
  3. Login to LoTW to check for new LoTW confirmations using LoTW’s reporting tabs for QSOs or awards. At busy times, you may need to wait a few minutes to see the first confirmations coming through - rather less than the weeks, months, years or decades QSL cards can take!
  4. Update your logging program to show the LoTW confirmations received. Any decent logging program (such as Logger32) provides a function to download and import the LoTW confirmations, then mark the confirmed QSOs as - um - confirmed.
  5. [Mandatory unless you like living dangerously] Backup your log !  Backup your log!  Backup your log!  Do it now!  Do it often!  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Back to quick links

Using LoTW - some Hinson tips

  • Make time to read the official help , online on the LoTW website plus offline in TQSL and your logging programs. A lot of effort goes into writing and proofreading it. Most queries are answered somewhere in the help.  Learn how to search for stuff.
  • Upload new QSOs to LoTW as often as you can , ideally at least once a month. If you are very active, upload new QSOs more often and check your LoTW confirmations at the same time. Uploading QSOs to LoTW is, in effect, an off-site log backup but only for the essential QSO details (date, time, call, mode, frequency/band).  Other QSO info (such as name, QTH, reports, notes etc.) is callously discarded by the LoTW import routine.
  • Via N2AMG’s L32 Log Synch utility, Logger32 can automatically sign and upload individual QSOs to LoTW as soon as they are logged provided you don’t mind the slight delay as the focus skips between various windows during the process: I prefer to wait for a suitable opportunity to trigger manual uploads when it suits me.
  • Keep an eye on the QSO and confirmation counts (top right of most LoTW screens). As LoTW usage spreads, the proportion of QSOs that are confirmed via LoTW is gradually increasing. About half of my QSOs are confirmed via LoTW.
  • If you alter QSOs in your log (for example correcting broken callsigns when QSL cards arrive), you need to re-upload the changed QSO records to LoTW . While you might be able to extract the changed QSOs and just upload them, an easier way is periodically to re-upload your entire log.  LoTW automatically ignores exact duplicate QSOs. However, please don’t do this too often (no more than, say, once a year) as it wastes computer power and slows the LoTW systems down a bit. Be nice. When it asks, you’ll need to tell TQSL to sign and upload the duplicate QSOs.
  • Use the award status table to check on your progress towards DXCC, WAS, VUCC, CQ WPX or CQ WAZ awards.  Use the quick QSL report to check for new ones, recently confirmed.
  • Make lots of digimode QSOs .  Unlike back in the 70’s when I got my ticket and Creeds were holding well-appointed shack desks firmly to the floor, almost all digmoders today are using computers to send and receive the digital modes.  Digimoders are mostly logging on computer and a good proportion of them use online logging and award systems, such as LoTW.
  • Take part in lots of contests !  Contest stations are more likely to upload their logs to LoTW.
  • Most DXpeditions use LoTW, although some deliberately delay uploading by months, ostensibly to complete “checks” but in reality to extort more money from the hams they worked. This runs counter to the true amateur spirit    :-( 
  • Preferentially contact other LoTW users rather than non-users, given the choice. The LoTW user list is helpful to identify them, especially if you integrate the data in your DXcluster or logbook software (VE7CC’s cluster user program is ideal for this). You are more likely to get a confirmation via LoTW, quicker and cheaper than by any other means.
  • If you are patiently awaiting a LoTW confirmation that seems “overdue”, the DX station may not have uploaded his log in a while (if ever!) or your QSO may have been busted (not accurately logged), hence not signed and uploaded, hence not matched and confirmed. You can check when someone last uploaded to LoTW. If they have uploaded recently but your QSO remains unconfirmed, it might be worth emailing them to check for a busted call, or writing it off as a dud.
  • You may need the security of a password to unlock access to the secret key on your LoTW certificate, but then again you may not. If the risk of some reprobate sneaking onto your machine and maliciously signing false logs in your name is low enough to be safely discounted, then feel free to remove the passwords from your certificates in TQSL using the these instructions. If you do this, you can upload log updates to LoTW from Logger32 with “just” 5 clicks following the instructions on my Logger32 page using a utility entry to call TQSL with the appropriate parameters.
  • Tidy out your old LoTW files from time to time. Once you have sent a .tq5 certificate request to LoTW, received back the .tq6 certificate and loaded it into TQSL, you can safely delete both files. Same with the .tq8 signed logs that you have uploaded to LoTW: there is no need to keep the .tq8 files any longer after they have been uploaded. Hang on to your ADIF logs, of course, and any .p12 or .tbk backup files. Keep them safe, preferably off-line (e.g. on a CD -ROM or USB memory stick) and off-site (e.g. at the radio club, in a safety deposit box at the bank or in cloud storage).

Back to quick links

Download your whole log from LoTW

If you need to download your entire log from LoTW, I recommend the neat online LoTW log download utility by K1MU.  Simply click the Submit button without entering any specific QSO criteria or selections, and wait patiently for the extract and download to complete.  Downloading took about 1 minute per 10k QSOs last time I tried it.

This is a last resort though: LoTW only stores the basic, minimal QSO details. Trust me, it is much better to make your own regular off-line and off-site log backups.  Even if you only do a backup once a year, that at least gives you a fighting chance of retrieving your detailed log to a point within the past year, recovering minimal QSO details from then until now.

Have you backed up your log lately?   Do it NOW!

Back to quick links

Checking/correcting your CQ and ITU zone and locator in LoTW

Some hams are either in such a rush or so confused when they join and start using LoTW that they make leeetle mistakes with their zones and locators. Perhaps the most common mistake is to swap CQ and ITU zones. Some hams evidently know their CQ zone but haven’t a clue about their ITU zone. If the values are wrong, every LoTW upload thereafter using that certificate and hence any LoTW confirmations will carry the wrong info until eventually someone notices and kindly lets them know.

This is how to check and if necessary correct your zone and locator data:

  1. Even if you think you know them, double-check your CQ zone, ITU zone and locator.

    HINT: if you think your ITU zone number is less than your CQ zone number but you don’t live in Canada, you have probably made a mistake.
  2. Export an ADIF version of your log containing all QSOs from the location whose zones or locators you want to correct. [In Logger32, this means going to "File" then "Export Logs" then "Create ADIF (Adi) file". Navigate to a suitable directory and give the ADIF file a name. Do not select "Partial log" as you almost certainly want the whole thing. I normally select "Export full Country names" here as it lets me check and sometimes correct the DXCC country allocations made by Logger32].
  3. Backup your log at this point, not because anything in the rest of this procedure is particularly risky, but just in case. It is generally safest to backup both the ADIF log (which may contain errors from the export process) and your logging program’s database (which may contain additional info but is not as portable as the ADIF). Store the backups safely, preferably offline.
  4. Run TQSL and on the top line menu select   "File"   then   "Sign existing ADIF or Cabrillo file".
  5. Click a "location" to select it. You are actually selecting the appropriate digital certificate - if you manage more than one callsign in LoTW, each will have its own "location" defined and you must use the appropriate one to sign the relevant logs.
  6. Click the "Edit" button.
  7. Enter or check and correct the zone and locator information there.
  8. Click "Next" then "Finish".
  9. [The "location" you just corrected should still be selected]  Click "OK".
  10. Find the ADIF file that you created in step 1 and click "Open".
  11. Click "Save" [the signed log file will be saved with the same file name as the ADIF file but with a .tq8 extension, in the same directory as the ADIF file by default].
  12. Click "Yes" to confirm that you really want to sign your log [doh! Why else would you be doing this?  Dumb question!].
  13. If prompted, enter your TQSL password [to unlock your private key and sign your log with your digital certificate] and click "OK" to sign your log.
  14. Login to the LoTW website and upload your signed log (i.e. the .tq8 file)  as usual. LoTW overwrites your previously-uploaded QSO data with the correct zones etc.
  15. [Optional]  If you have more than one location and log to sign and upload, go back to step 1 and run through again for the other info.

Thanks to Chris for helping prepare these instructions, and for correcting his info!

TQSL now incorporates basic integrity checks for zones.  For the current release of TQSL, visit the ARRL LoTW page.

By the way, I gather hams operating from grid boundaries/junctions are able to select multiple adjacent grids in TQSL, up to four of them I believe. This could prove attractive for VHF/UHF contests, and for the new ARRL International Grid Chase if you live or operate at the boundary of several rare grids.

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Applying for awards via LoTW

The LoTW system can automatically track your progress towards ARRL’s DXCC, VUCC and WAS awards, plus CQ Magazine’s WPX and WAZ awards, but first you need to configure it by setting up your award accounts in LoTW.

The DXCC rules allow you to accumulate QSLs from more than one personal callsign (for example if you use a personal contest or vanity call but not a shared/club call), provided all the QSOs are made from the same DXCC country. Under WAS rules, all QSOs must be made from within 50 miles of the same location: if you move more than 50 miles away, you have to re-start your WAS claims from the new QTH. Configuring LoTW therefore involves telling the system where you operate from.

When LoTW’s reports indicate that you have enough QSLs for an award, you can prepare and submit your application through LoTW. Here are the steps for DXCC:

  1. Login to LoTW as usual.
  2. Open the Awards tab.
  3. Select the DXCC account and open the familiar DXCC summary report showing the credits already granted, any claims in progress, and any confirmations not yet claimed.
  4. Click Application on the left menu.
  5. Click Check All if you want credit for all the new LoTW confirmations, then Continue.
  6. Complete the rest of the application, providing your credit card number to pay for the certificates/endorsements, and submit it for processing.
  7. Wait a day or three for an email to say the application has been processed.
  8. Wait a week or three for an envelope from ARRL HQ containing your certificates and endorsement stickers.
  9. Proudly display them in your shack and show off to your DX pals. You deserve to gloat!

Aside from LoTW confirmations, you can apply for DXCC credits using QSL cards.

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Archive your LoTW certificate/s

If you somehow lose or corrupt your LoTW certificates (for example if your hard drive crashes, you pick up a PC virus, you accidentally delete or overwrite the files, or your shack burns down), you will need to go through the rigmarole of reapplying to ARRL HQ, sending your license again for validation ... unless you had the foresight to make an archive copy of your certificates.

Archive your LoTW certificates now, before you forget!

Here’s how to archive your LoTW certificates:

  1. Run TQSL.
  2. From the menu, select File then Backup Station Locations, Certificates, and Preferences...

    Backup in TQSL 2

  3. Navigate to a convenient directory on your system.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Exit TQSL.
  6. Copy the backup file (called tqslconfig.tbk ) to a suitable archival/long-term storage medium such as (in decreasing order of merit) CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, external hard drive, USB memory stick, Web or cloud backup, another PC, 8” floppy diskette, stone tablet, wax disk, sand impression or notches on a stick. That’s your archive.
  7. Store your archive safely, well away from your computer and shack (don’t just sling it casually in the bottom of a drawer: it’s valuable!  Take care of it!).

To recover lost/corrupted LoTW certificate, location or config data:

  1. Run TQSL
  2. Select File from the menu then Restore Station Locations, Certificates, and Preferences...
  3. Find the backup file on your system (if it is intact) or in your archive, and click OK to restore your info.

Tip: use the same process to transfer your TQSL info to a different PC, such as a new PC or a second station PC. Install TQSL on the second system, then use the restore function to load the info from your archive.

Tip: make a new archive whenever you get a new/replacement certificate, move to a new QTH and set up a new location in TQSL, or when you archive your log (make this a routine every New Year’s Day, when the clocks change to/from daylight savings time, or whenever it suits you).

Backup and archive your log/s too

Be sure to take regular backups of your log or logs . Backups are handy to recover from little accidents: provide the backup file is OK, you can recover most of your QSOs (up to the last backup ) after accidentally corrupting a section of your log, or perhaps deleting or overwriting the whole log file. Without backups, if your log is damaged or lost, you will lose all record of all the QSOs you’ve ever had, except perhaps for the very basic details of any you have previously uploaded to LoTW or Clublog (both of which only store the bare minimum of QSO information - think of them as last resort backups). Believe me, it’s a real pain when it happens. Those who worked Mellish Reef toward the end of a certain DXpedition know what I mean: the vital laptop dropped into the sea while they were leaving the reef. Ooops. Luckily QSOs made up to a day or so earlier had already been uploaded to a control station and were safe, but the final QSOs were lost forever to Neptune. Doh!

Every so often, make an archive too . Backup your log/s as normal but then copy the backup file/s to suitable offline media such as a CD or USB memory stick, and stash it somewhere safe away from the shack. Make this a regular thing e.g. once a quarter depending on how active you are - once every thousand QSOs is another way. At the very least, take a moment to archive your entire log at the start of every new year, and store it safely away. That way, the most you will lose will be the QSOs you made during the subsequent year and details of any QSLs received since you made the archive: still bad news but not a complete disaster!

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Update your log to show DXCC credits (granted)

The QSOs that have been confirmed and credited to your DXCC record can be downloaded from LoTW to update Logger32, using the program “ARRL scraper.exe” provided with Logger32.  Look in C:\Logger32 for the program.

The scraper asks for your LoTW username and password, then logs in to LoTW. It generates working lists of the QSOs already credited to various DXCC awards (e.g. DXCC Mixed, DXCC CW etc.), then one-by-one, it downloads the relevant QSO info from LoTW, saving the QSO details as an ADIF file.

ARRL scraper in action

It is a slow process, taking about a second or so per QSO. My 2600 DXCC credits took about 2 hours. The utility churns away in the background, the little blue progress bar steadily advancing to the right, whereas I would have gone nuts trying to do what it is doing by hand!

L32 DXCC credits updating

The utility does some integrity checking.  If it can’t find QSOs in your log corresponding to the DXCC credits, it will display errors (such as the 8J1ANT one above) and generate an error file listing 30 QSOs in my case:

L32 credit fails

HS0ZEA, for example, is the call credited in my DXCC records but in fact he was mobile, and I logged him as HS0ZEA/M, the callsign he used on air. I always try to log callsigns as sent. Either he or LoTW stripped off the /M suffix, giving a match in LoTW when it checks the QSO but a mismatch with the QSO in my log when it exports the matched QSO info. It is easy to fix the errors in Logger32: manually locate the QSOs in question and update them to show they have been credited for DXCC.

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Online DXCC application (for QSL cards)

Logger32 can generate an ADIF file for an online DXCC application, identifying QSOs that you have confirmed on QSL cards but not on LoTW:

  1. Logger32 can identify QSOs that have been confirmed on QSL cards but not on LoTW using the “QSLs only” selector at the bottom of the DXCC report: 

    L32 QSLs only
  2. L32 submit for DXCCFor a clean start, unset any “Submit for DXCC” flags currently in your log by running the File -> Export file -> Export DXCC file function, selecting the option to delete the flags.

  3. On Logger32’s QSL-only DXCC report, click an orange “C” blob to identify the corresponding QSO or QSOs that have been confirmed on paper.

    Now from one of those dusty shoeboxes or postcard albums, dig out a suitable, readable, original and unmodified QSL card for one of the QSOs.

    Right click the corresponding QSO in the log, then click “Submit for DXCC” to flag the QSO.  -->

    Note: topband cards can only be checked by ARRL HQ or by card-checkers who have been authorized to check 160m cards.

  4. Move on to the next orange “C” blob, and repeat steps 3 & 4 until done.
  5. Run  the File -> Export file -> Export DXCC file function again to generate the ADIF file you need. If you are certain you will complete the process, select the options to delete the flags and mark the QSOs as submitted for DXCC. Otherwise wait until after you have actually completed and sent the submission - simply run the Export DXCC file again with the options set that time.
  6. Upload the ADIF file to the online DXCC application and, before finalising and submitting your application, double-check that you have the correct QSL cards  for every QSO you are claiming, in the same sequence as shown on the form. The cards must match the claimed QSO details on the form for callsign, date, band or frequency and mode. For DXCC countries with ambiguous prefixes (e.g. North and South Cooks both use E5), the card should explicitly state the location.
  7. If everything is in order, complete and submit the online application and print out the form to send with your QSL cards to be checked. Sign the paperwork and send or take it plus the QSL cards either to ARRL HQ or to your friendly local DXCC card-checker.
  8. Wait patiently for news about the status of your application.

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LoTW users

Robert HB9BZA used to compile a list of >100,000 LoTW users as a public service to the amateur community ... until eventually ARRL got the hint and started publishing a definitive list of LoTW users , complete with the last upload dates.

The CC user program by VE7CC can use the list, adding a “+” to the comments field on spots for DX stations who use LoTW, and optionally filtering out spots for those who do not use LoTW:

CCuser LoTW lookup

If two or more wanted DX stations are spotted, I give preference to those with the plusses because I’m more confident of getting a confirmation from them.

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Getting help on Logbook of The World (LoTW)

ARRL’s official LoTW FAQ is the definitive source of help on LoTW. It’s not bad at all.

The web page you are reading right now is unofficial, a compilation of things I have discovered in the course of using LoTW.

If you have other queries not answered in the FAQ or here, you could try asking me but you are likely to get a more accurate response from the nice people at ARRL HQ, or by joining the LoTW email reflector at Yahoo!

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A LoTW wishlist

Here are two changes to LoTW I’d quite like ARRL to make:

  1. Add more awards such as IOTA and contests such as CQ WW. ARRL would do us all a service by opening up the system and so encouraging even more hams to use LoTW.  A relatively simple but extensible option would be for LoTW to verify, sign and return ADIF logs submitted by authorized users (e.g. contest adjudicators and award admins) , identifying which of the QSOs have been matched. Making use of ARRL’s investment in the PKI , LoTW could digitally sign its reports, allowing others to confirm that they have not been tampered with or fabricated. The reports could then be used for all manner of awards and contests without ARRL having to cater for each one individually.   Meanwhile, ARRL have at least facilitated some integration of LoTW with other sites, such as Club Log, and the CQ WAZ award.
  2. Provide a bands and modes x countries grid similar to Club Log’s. [That excellent suggestion comes from WB5EIN - tnx Larry, good idea!  The LoTW Awards reports are functional but not pretty, just like me really.]

Please contact me if there are other ideas you would like to add to the list, or to comment on my suggestions.

Notwithstanding my little wish-list, I’d like to thank ARRL and the DXCC Desk for making this facility freely available to hams worldwide. Thanks!

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Hawke’s Bay
North Island
New Zealand

39o 39’ South x 176o 37’ East

Locator RF80HL

260m ASL


CQ zone 32

A1 Ops

DX CoC logo new 125 on black
Clublog logo 125
G QRP Club