Complete Rules -The CQ USA-Counties Award (USA-CA) Program
The United States of America Counties Award (USA-CA), sponsored by CQ magazine, is issued for confirmed two-way radio contacts with specified numbers of U.S. counties under rules and conditions hereafter stated.
The USA-CA Award Program
A. Award Classes
The USA Counties Award is issued in seven different classes, each a separate achievement as endorsed on the basic certificate by use of special seals for higher class. Also, special endorsements are made for all one band or mode operations, subject to the rules.
1. USA-CA is available to all licensed amateurs everywhere in the world and is issued to them as individuals for all county contacts made, regardless of calls held, operating QTHs, or dates. Special USA-CA awards are also available to SWLs on a heard basis.
2. All contacts must be confirmed by QSL, and such QSLs must be in the applicant's possession for identification by certification officials. Electronic verifications from sources approved by CQ are acceptable. A list of acceptable online sources may be found at https://tinyurl.com/yyzjzwur.
3. Any QSL card or other confirmation found to be altered in any way disqualifies the applicant.
4. QSOs via repeaters, satellites, and phone patches are not valid for USA-CA. QSOs using remote station technology are permitted, provided that all contacts are made over a direct RF path between the remote station and the station contacted.
5. So-called "team" contacts, wherein one person acknowledges a signal report and another returns a signal report, while both amateur callsigns are logged, are not valid for USA-CA. Acceptable contact may be made with only one station at a time.
C. County Identity
1. . Unless otherwise indicated on QSL cards or in an electronic confirmation database, the QTH printed on cards or entered into an electronic confirmation database profile will determine county identity.
2. If no county name is provided by the contacted station, an online city and ZIP code search may be conducted to determine the county of contact.
3. For mobile and portable operations, county information stated on confirmations is the only acceptable proof of county identity.
4. In the case of cities, parks, or reservations not within counties proper, applicants may claim any one of the adjoining counties for credit (once).
D. Administration of USA-CA Program
1. The USA-CA program is administered by a CQ staff member acting as USA-CA Custodian, and all applications and related correspondence should be sent directly to this person's QTH.
2. Decisions of the Custodian in administering these rules and their interpretation, including future amendments, are final.
E. Record Book and Bookkeeping
1. The scope of the USA-CA Award makes it mandatory that applications be submitted in a specific format. Contacts must be arranged alphabetically by state and then alphabetically by county within each state. Information provided for each contact must include call sign, date of contact, band and mode, in that order. Computer-generated lists must be in a tabular format with separate columns for each field listed above.
2. A completed USA-CA Record Book (as available) or computer-generated listing of qualifying contacts constitutes the medium of basic application and becomes the property of CQ for record purposes. On subsequent applications for either higher classes or for special endorsements, the applicant may use additional Record Books to list required data, or he or she may make up alphabetical lists conforming to requirements.
3. Record Books are not currently in print, but existing copies will be accepted for all applications. At such time that Record Books may again become available, these rules will be updated and notification will be published in CQ magazine.
1. Make Record Book or computer-generated list entries necessary for county identity and enter other log data necessary to satisfy any special endorsements (band/mode) requested.
2. Have two licensed amateurs (General Class or higher) or an official of a national-level radio organization or affiliated club certify that QSL cards or acceptable electronic confirmations for all contacts as listed have been seen. The USA-CA Custodian reserves the right to request any specific cards (or other confirmations) to satisfy any doubt whatsoever. In such cases, the applicant should send sufficient postage for the return of cards by registered mail.
3. Send the original completed Record Book (not a copy) or computer-generated listing, along with certification forms and handling fee to Brian Bird, NX0X, 4567 Caribou Lake Road, Duluth, MN 55811-9607. Fee is $6.00 US for CQ subscribers (subscribers must include a copy of a recent CQ mailing label), and $12.00 US for non-subscribers. Applicants outside the United States must include an additional $6.00 US for postage if a certificate is requested. For later applications for higher class seals, send Record Book or self-prepared list per rules and $1.25 US. For application for later special endorsements (band/mode) where certificates must be returned for endorsement, send certificate and $1.25 US for handling charges ($6 US for stations outside the United States). Note: At the time any USA-CA Award certificate is being processed, there are no charges other than the basic fee, regardless of the number of endorsements or seals; likewise, one may skip lower classes of USA-CA and get higher classes without losing any lower awards credits or paying any fee for them. Fees may be paid by check or money order payable to Brian Bird, or via PayPal to
4. Computer-generated contact lists, certification and witness documents must be sent on paper or by e-mail, along with the appropriate fee, to the Award Custodian (address above), not to the CQ offices. E-mailed applications may include an attached file in spreadsheet or other tabular format. and must include a listing of all claimed contacts, in alphabetical order by state, and by county within each state.
The USA-CA Award Program is sponsored by CQ - The Radio Amateur's Journal, 17 West John Street, Hicksville, NY 11801.
Click here for printable state-by-state county maps of the United States.
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Updated June 2019