What is OpenStreetMap? And what is the OpenStreetMap Foundation?

OpenStreetMap is an open initiative to create and provide free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. It is a massive online collaboration, with hundreds of thousands of registered users worldwide.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation is an nonprofit organisation, a legal body incorporated by the registrar of companies for England and Wales.

What is the purpose of the OpenStreetMap Foundation?

The goal of the foundation is to support but not control the OpenStreetMap project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to providing geospatial data for anybody to use and share.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation was formed to enable aspects of the project not easily accomplished by individual mappers. For instance, the OpenStreetMap Foundation owns the OpenStreetMap servers, and holds sponsorship funds from donors.

For more information see the OSMF About page.

Who may become a member of the OpenStreetMap Foundation?

Any individual may become a member of the OpenStreetMap Foundation by paying the annual membership fee. Corporate membership has been available since September 2013.

How many employees does the OpenStreetMap Foundation have?

To help with some of the areas where volunteering is a challenge, we have employed various people on a contracting basis, and in 2022 our funding allowed us to take on our first direct full time employee. For details see Contractors and employees. Nonetheless, the vast majority of OSMF activities are performed by volunteers. This means we’re a lean, efficient organisation when it comes to spending the donated funds.

Will a representative of OSMF attend and talk at my event?

One of the OSMF activities is to promote the use of OpenStreetMap data. We will gladly try to organize somebody from the Foundation or an associated group for your event if you consider the following points:

  • OpenStreetMap is a bottom up, grass roots, initiative, very often it will be more appropriate for a member of the local OSM community to represent OSM at your event.
  • The OSMF is a volunteer organisation, you are asking somebody to use personal spare time to attend your event. This implies that on the one hand you need to make a good case why your event warrants making the effort and on the other that you need to ask early. If you are inviting us as an afterthought, you should not expect us to consider your request with high priority.
  • The annual budget of OSMF is not large, any travel expenses seriously impacts using the donated funds for the intended purpose, which typically is not supporting your event. Any request for attendence from the OSMF should include an offer to cover travel expenses or a very good reason why attending the event furthers OSMF’s goals.

Where do I get OpenStreetMap data?

This is the raw data describing the positions of roads, rivers, towns, points interests etc. It can be used to make a map, but is not a map. If you want that, wrong question, see ”Where do I get OpenStreetMap maps?”!

The best starting point is a snapshot of the OpenStreetMap database. It is in XML format. Data is available for the whole world and is updated regularly. Smaller extracts for certain countries and parts of the world are also available.

You can write programs and scripts quite easily to extract what you need or you can use some of the tools and procedures developed by the OpenStreetMap community.

Is OpenStreetMap data free?

Yes. There are no fees or royalty payments of any kind.

Are there restrictions on using OpenStreetMap data?

There are no restrictions on who can use the data. Individuals, clubs, societies, charities, academe, government, commercial companies. When we say everyone, we mean everyone.

There are no restrictions on where you can use the data. Privately or publicly. Commercially or non-commercially. Paper maps, electronic maps, books, newspapers, TV, gazeteers, search systems, routing, games … or indeed anything you can think of that will surprise us.

There are two restrictions, some call them freedoms, on how you use the data. See the following sections on Attribution and Share-Alike.


We would like you to tell people where you got your data from.


We would like more data to be made publicly and freely available. We use the ODbL 1.0 as our distribution licence. If you improve our data and want to distribute the new data, it must be done under the same license. If you make a map, you are free to publish that under whatever license you like as long as you attribute OSM correctly.

Where do I get OpenStreetMap maps?

If you are not making your own maps, the list of resources for OpenStreetMap maps made by OpenStreetMap community members, clubs and companies grows day by day. OpenStreetMap examples.

If you just want to see what our maps can look like go to openstreetmap.org . The ”+” button in the top right corner gives you the option to choose different styles.

If you want an electronic map of a specific area quickly, the Export tab of http://www.openstreetmap.org/ will allow you download a map of your selected area as JPEG image, PDF file or in other formats.

Or you might want map tiles.

What is a map tile?

Map tiles are made by dividing the map into squares and making an image file, such as .png or .jpg, for each square. Sets of map tiles can be made for different zoom levels. There is one map tile showing the whole world. There are four map tiles making up the whole world at the next zoom level, 16 at the next and so on right down to hundreds of thousands for showing the whole world at a local neighborhood level of detail.

Can I use your map tiles?

We are in principle happy for our map tiles to be used by external users for creative and unexpected uses – in contrast to most web mapping providers.

However, the OpenStreetMap servers are run entirely on donated resources. They have strictly limited capacity. Heavy use of OSM tiles adversely affects people’s ability to view and edit the map, and is an abuse of the individual donations and sponsorship which provide hardware and bandwidth. As a result, we request that users of the tiles abide by the tile usage policy. OpenStreetMap tile services can also be obtained from other third parties, or you can investigate setting up a tile server of your own.

Do you offer consulting or commercial services?

No. There are companies who specialize in commercial services built upon OpenStreetMap data. Those companies may be able to help you. As policy, the Foundation makes no endorsements or recommendations.

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