7 Facts You Need to Know About OS Licencing

Written by Stefani Mavrou on

Ordnance Survey (OS) stands out as a significant supplier and the national mapping agency for the United Kingdom in the enormous landscape of mapping materials. When adding OS maps to your work, it is critical to understand the complexities of licensing and usage. Mapping data, requires proper authorisation for access to its value. Keeping licences updated is crucial, yet the administrative challenge arises due to variations in arrangements among different data providers. If you're uncertain about licencing, this article focuses on OS, providing insights to guarantee your use, is in accordance with licencing regulations.

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7 Things You Should Know About OS Licencing

  1. When you buy maps and location data online, you are purchasing permission to use that information, not the underlying dataset.
  2. Despite the complexity of the language used in OS licences, they always specify who can use the data and for what purposes. You can find our licence agreement here.
  3. Regardless of the provider, most licences can be purchased on a per-user basis. What matters is that you know how many people in your organisation will be using the information and that licence purchases are not duplicated. If you regularly print mapping out, it would be well worth getting a 'Paper Map Copying Licence' from the OS or the partner you use. ‘If it’s a digital OS map, you’re permitted to share that with a client for the purpose of undertaking a project for them for the licence period as this is classified as ‘internal business’. If it’s a public sector body, then you may be covered by the same licence terms and be able to use their mapping under an agreement called the ‘Public Sector Geospatial Agreement’ but check first. 
  4. Some licences do not require a financial transaction; they just protect the integrity of the data on behalf of the provider.
  5. All of our plans come with a licence that lasts 1 year. If you need to extend your licence please get in touch with us here.
  6. To ensure the mapping is from a licenced and accredited source, it is best to use an official ‘OS Partner’ (listed on the OS site) or from the OS directly. MapServe® is an official OS partner. Our OS licence number is 100053143.
  7. You should include the ‘© Crown copyright’ on any OS map and, if you purchased the map via a reseller or partner, you’ll need to include their OS partner reference number. Most partners include this information anyway on any OS map they supply and typically, licences include information regarding copyright statements that should be included on licenced data or mapping.

7 Facts You Need to Know About OS Licensing

What OS licence do I need?

The type of licence selected will be determined by criteria such as the purpose of use, whether it is for personal or commercial purposes, the type of data requested, and the period of usage. 

How much does my OS licence cost?

The cost of an Ordnance Survey (OS) licence varies depending on numerous criteria, including the kind of licence, intended use (commercial or personal), geographical coverage required, and licence period. It is advised that you check the official Ordnance Survey website or contact an authorised OS partner for specific and up-to-date pricing information. Based on your exact requirements and usage scenarios, they may provide precise pricing structures.

How and where do I apply for an OS licence?

Licence applications differ based on what you require. You can find below detailed instructions on how to apply for each licence whether you need to:

  1. Copy OS data
  2. Share OS data
  3. Publish OS data
  4. Use OS data

7 Facts You Need to Know About OS Licensing

Understanding the complexities of OS licencing may appear confusing, thus it is best to confirm the terms with your supplier ahead of time. Navigating the licencing environment guarantees that you use OS maps to their greatest capacity while following the relevant laws.