What Are Q-Codes And Are They Lawful

The international Q-codes are a collection of abbreviations that was created to simplify Morse code communications.

Each individual code is comprised of three letters always prefixed with a “Q” hence the name of “Q-codes”.
The codes are structured in such a way so that it may be used as either a question or an answer (or statement).

The Amateur radio Q-Codes are only a small subset of the full international Q-code set which includes codes for nautical and aeronautical purposes.

In the UK, the radio amateur licence states that the use of codes and cyphers are not to be used, however to dispel any confusion, this does not include the use of Q-Codes or a few other “shorthand” codes which are in common use, primarily in CW. Instead, the rule refers to codes used between individuals to hide the meaning of their transmissions.

Amateur radio informal Q-codes

Quite often Q-codes are used by amateurs in an informal manner, the original meaning being slightly altered. Scroll down for the original version of the Q-codes.

Q CodeFormal meaning
QROHigh power
QRPLow power
QRQHigh speed CW
QRSLow speed CW
QRSSVery low speed CW
QRTShut down the station
QRXStand by
QRZ?Who is calling me?
QSDDefective keying
QSKBreak in
QSLConfirmation or card to confirm contact
QSORadio contact
QSYChange frequency

International Q-Codes

The original set of Q-codes are listed below.

CodeUsed as a questionUsed as an answer or statement
QRAWhat is the name (or callsign) of your station?The name (or callsign) of my station is …
QRBHow far are you from my station?The distance between our stations is … nautical miles (or km)
QRGWill you tell me my exact frequency (or that of …)?Your exact frequency (or that of … ) is … kHz (or MHz)
QRHDoes my frequency vary?Your frequency varies
QRIHow is the tone of my transmission?The tone of your transmission is (1: good, 2: variable 3: bad)
QRKWhat is the readability of my signals (or those of …)?The readability of your signals (or those of …) is … (1: bad … 5: excellent)
QRLAre you busy?I am busy. (or I am busy with … ) Please do not interfere
QRMDo you have interference?I have interference
QRNAre you troubled by static noise?I am troubled by static noise
QROShall I increase transmit power?Please increase transmit power
QRPShall I decrease transmit power?Please decrease transmit power
QRQShall I send faster?Please send faster (… words per minute)
QRSShall I send more slowly?Please send more slowly (… words per minute)
QRTShall I cease or suspend operation?I am suspending operation
QRUHave you anything for me?I have nothing for you
QRVAre you ready?I am ready
QRXShall I standby? / When will you call me again?Please standby. / I will call you again at … (hours) on … kHz (or MHz)
QRZWho is calling me?You are being called by …
QSAWhat is the strength of my signals (or those of … )?The strength of your signals (or those of …) is … (1: very weak .. 5: very strong).
QSBAre my signals fading?Your signals are fading
QSDIs my keying defective?Your keying is defective
QSKCan you hear me between your signals (while transmitting), and if so can I break in on your transmission?I can hear you between my signals (while transmitting); break in on my transmission
QSLCan you acknowledge receipt?I am acknowledging receipt
QSMShall I repeat the last message which I sent you, or some previous message?Repeat the last message which you sent me
QSNDid you hear me (or …) on … kHz (or MHz)?I did hear you (or …) on … kHz (or MHz)
QSOCan you communicate with … direct or by relay?I can communicate with … direct (or by relay through …)
QSPWill you relay a message to …?I will relay a message to … .
QSSWhat working frequency will you use?I will use … kHz (or MHz)
QSUShall I send or reply on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz))?Please send or reply on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz)).
QSVShall I send a series of "V" on this frequency?Please send a series of "V" on this frequency
QSXWill you listen to … on … kHz (or MHz)?I am listening to … on … kHz (or MHz).
QSYShall I change transmission frequency (to … kHz (or MHz))?Please change transmission frequency (to … kHz (or MHz)).
QSZShall I send each word or group more than once?Send each word or group twice (or … times).
QTCHow many telegrams (messages) have you to send?I have … telegrams (messages) for you (or for …).
QTHWhat is your position in latitude and longitude (or according to any other indication)?My position is … latitude, … longitude
QTRWhat is the correct time?The correct time is … hours