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Paper map sales

This Freedom of Information request asks for details about the number of paper maps sold between 2004 - 2019.

Request for information - Ref No: FOI9909


Thank you for your email of 21 July 2019 requesting information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, as set out in the extract below:

I would like to know the number of paper copies you have sold of each of your commercially available explorer (orange), landranger (pink), historical (purple), tour (blue), and regional (green) maps in each of the last 15 years. For example, I would like a table (or any other reasonable format) with all the map series and numbers (e.g. ..., explorer 150, explorer 151, ..., landranger 25, etc.) listed in the left hand column and then the number of paper copies of each map you have sold in each of the last fifteen years in the next 15 columns.

Our response

I confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold the information you have requested. Where the information is exempt from disclosure this is stated.

Please find attached a table (PDF) showing the volume of paper maps sold from 2004 to 2019 for each map series requested: Explorer, Landranger, Historical, Tour (Tourist Maps and Tourist Maps 2) and Regional (Road Maps (Travel Master) and Great Britain Routeplanner Map).

The information you requested at sheet level (referred to in your request as number level) is exempt under section 43(2) (Commercial Interests) of the FOIA and is therefore withheld. Under section 43(2) of the FOIA, information is exempt if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person.

In this case, providing details of our entire map sales at individual sheet level, would be likely to undermine the viability of specific maps sheets and the sustainability of maintaining the national mapping series which we are required to publish. Ordnance Survey operates in a commercial environment, by providing the information at the level you have requested, this would provide those competing in the same market with a commercial advantage.

This is a qualified exemption and we are required to consider the public interest.

Ordnance Survey recognises the need for transparency. However, this must be balanced against the public interest in allowing the organisation to protect its commercial information and not place itself at a disadvantage in the competitive market in which it operates. Disclosure of the paper map sales at sheet level would be likely to affect the ability for OS to produce a full series of titles therefore, placing Ordnance Survey at a commercial disadvantage.

Section 43(2) is a prejudice based exemption, and there is a public interest inherent in avoiding the harm specified. Ordnance Survey considers that the prejudice would be likely to occur and would involve a material adverse effect on Ordnance Survey’s revenues.

Having considered the above, we are satisfied that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.  If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our Internal Review Officer by contacting them, within two months of receipt of our final response to your Freedom of Information (FOI) request, as follows:

Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Contact us via our FoI form

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner›s Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal, within three months of receiving our response, with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Further information can be found on the ICO website ( under ‘Report a concern’ or you may wish to call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113.