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Products and services FAQs

How do I order a product or find out about pricing?

Our How to buy wizard steps you through a short series of questions to help you identify the best way to buy our data – whether direct from us or via one of our partners. If you represent a public sector organisation, you may be able to acquire it at no extra cost, thanks to our mapping agreements.

What map scales do Ordnance Survey maps use?

Scale describes the ratio in size between something in the real world and its representation on a map. In other words, if a map has a scale of 1:50 000 then a distance of 1 cm on the map represents 50 000cm (500 m) in the real world.

The main scales used by us for surveying are 1:1250, 1:2500 and 1:10 000. These are referred to as large scale maps, which is when features in the real world are portrayed larger on the map.

We produce a number of mapping products at other scales, such as 1:25 000 scale and 1:50 000 scale for example. These are generally referred to as small scale. On these small scale maps, due to scale restrictions, some features are simplified or generalised. For example, at these scales we do not show the shapes of individual houses. Without generalisation, small maps would have too much detail to be able to read.

  • 1:1250 scale is used for surveying cities and towns (urban areas) and is the most accurate we use.
  • 1:2500 scale is used for smaller towns and villages (rural areas).
  • 1:10 000 scale is used for remote areas, mountain and moorland. Generalisation of features may occur at this scale.

To find out the scales of individual products, please refer to our product pages.

How accurate are your products?

We define accuracy in three ways:

Absolute accuracy – how closely the coordinates of a point in the dataset agree with the coordinates of the same point on the ground (in the British National Grid reference system).

Relative accuracy – positional consistency of a data point or feature in relation to other local data points or features within the same or another reference dataset.

Geometric fidelity – the ‘trueness’ of features to the shapes and alignments of the objects they represent -when testing the data according to the dataset specification against the ‘real world’ or reference dataset .

The following table represents the absolute and relative accuracy applicable to the scale at which the product was surveyed.

Original survey scale99% confidence level95% confidence levelRMSE*
Absolute Accuracy0.9 m0.8 m0.5 m
Relative Accuracy+/- 1.1 m (up to 60 m)+/- 0.9 m (up to 60 m)+/- 0.5 m (up to 60 m)
Absolute Accuracy2.4 m1.9 m1.1 m
Relative Accuracy+/- 2.5 m (up to 100 m)+/- 1.9 m (up to 100 m)+/- 1.0 (up to 100 m)
1:10 000
Absolute Accuracy8.8 m7.1 m4.1 m
Relative Accuracy+/- 10.1 m (up to 500 m)+/- 7.7 m (up to 500 m)+/- 4.0 m (up to 500 m)

*RMSE (root mean squared error) is the square root of the mean of the squares of the errors between the observations.

Why does my map not show the same level of detail as on the ground?

As the landscape is constantly changing, we are unable to survey and map every change as it occurs. We work to guidelines set out in our Basic scale revision policy that determine what should be mapped and when, based upon the greatest benefit to all of our customers.

For example, if you have just built an extension on your house and it does not show up on our maps, this is because we consider this type of change as a low priority, compared with mapping the construction of a new school building.

How often are your products updated?

We are updating our central database every day by both field survey and aerial photography (continuous and cyclic revision). The data has to go through a number of different databases and production processes before it can be released in our products. Due to the differing scales of our products and the level of detail shown, some products need to be updated more frequently than others (as they show the most detailed and hence the most changes on the ground).

For our most detailed products (OS MasterMap Topography Layer), our Basic Scale Revision policy sets out which types of changes on the ground will be updated and when.

The table below details the frequency of published product updates for all of our digital products.

Data typeFrequencyDate
Vector data
OS MasterMap Topography6 weeklyAs published on website
OS MasterMap ITN Roads (with RRI)6 weeklyAs published on website
OS MasterMap ITN Urban PathsQuarterlyApril, July, October, January
OS VectorMap LocalQuarterlyLinked to your order contract start date
Address and location data
AddressBase (also Plus and Premium)6 weeklyAs published on website
OS MasterMap Address Layer 26 weeklyAs published on website
OS MasterMap Address Layer6 weeklyAs published on website
ADDRESS-POINTQuarterlyFebruary, May, August, November
Code-PointQuarterlyFebruary, May, August, November
Code-Point with PolygonsQuarterlyJanuary, April, July, October
Raster datasets
1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster6 monthlyQuarterly
1:50 000 Scale Colour RasterAnnualQuarterly
OS VectorMap Local- Black and White Raster, Colour Raster, Backdrop RasterQuarterlyLinked to your contract start date
Height and Imagery products
OS Terrain 5QuarterlyApril/July/October/January
OS OpenData products
Boundary-Line6 monthlyMay/June, October/November
OS VectorMap District6 monthlyApril, October
Meridian 26 monthlyJanuary, July
Code-Point Open3 monthlyFebruary, May, August, November
OS Street View6 monthlyApril, October
1:250 000 Scale Colour RasterAnnualJune
OS Locator6 monthlyMay, November
1:50 000 Scale GazetteerAnnualJune
OS Terrain 50AnnualApril
Land-Form PANORAMAThis is an unmaintained dataset

Our paper maps, OS Explorer and OS Landranger, are generally revised on a maximum five year revision cycle; that is, each map should be revised for significant changes at least once every five years.

In which formats are your data products available?

The format of the file describes in which way the geographical features have been saved. If you wish to use data that we save in a format that is not supported by your GIS application, you will need to convert the data files into a format that your application does support (please contact the vendor for further information).

Vector data

OS MasterMap Topography


OS MasterMap ITN Roads (with RRI)


OS MasterMap ITN Urban Paths


OS VectorMap Local


Address and location data

AddressBase (also Plus and Premium)


OS MasterMap Address Layer 2


OS MasterMap Address Layer






Code-Point with Polygons

ESRI Shapefile, MapInfo – MID/MIF or TAB

Raster datasets

1:10 000 Scale Colour Raster

TIFF (LZW), TIFF (uncomp)

1:10 000 Scale Black and White Raster

TIFF (uncomp), TIFF (group 3), TIFF (group 4), Bitmap

1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster

TIFF (LZW) , TIFF (packbit compreseed)

1:50 000 Scale Colour Raster

TIFF (LZW), TIFF (uncomp), Bitmap (uncomp)

OS VectorMap Local - Black and White RasterGeoTIFF (LZW)
OS VectorMap Local - Colour RasterGeoTIFF (LZW)
OS VectorMap Local - Backdrop RasterGeoTIFF (LZW)

OS OpenData products


ESRI Shapefile

OS VectorMap District (raster)


OS VectorMap District (vector)

ESRI Shapefile, GML 3.2

Meridian 2

ESRI Shapefile, DXF or MapInfo TAB


ESRI Shapefile, DXF or MapInfo TAB

Code-Point Open


OS Street View


1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster



TIFF (LZW) or Adobe Illustrator® CS and Editable Encapsulated Post Script (EPS).

OS Locator

ASCII colon separated

1:50 000 Scale Gazetteer

ASCII colon separated

OS Terrain 50ESRI Shapefile, GML, ASCII colon separated

Land-Form PANORAMA (contours)




Where can I find detailed products and services information?

Each of our products and services pages provide you with detailed information such as how it can be used, as well as links to technical information and frequently asked questions.

Will I need extra software to use your data products?

To get the most out of our data, you will need a Geographic Information System (GIS). Since we do not develop GIS software ourselves, we work closely with our Partners to ensure that a range of solutions are available to help you.

Some products like OS MasterMap layers that are supplied in GML format as .gz zip files may also need additional translation tools or software to be read by your GIS. Please check with your GIS provider.

What is geo-referencing?

Geo-referencing is the intelligence that connects/positions each tile of mapping within a geographic information system (GIS), to join up each adjacent square.

Geo-referencing files allow tiles of map data to be located in their correct geographical position when loaded into a GIS. Our raster data products when supplied to you are not geo-referenced, however we can provide geo-referencing files to work with all scales of our raster products.

Please note that OS VectorMap Local Raster and OS VectorMap District Raster versions are supplied as GeoTIFF with geographic (or cartographic) data embedded as tags within the TIFF. Separate geo-referencing files are not required to position OS VectorMap Local - Raster versions in a GIS.

What web map services do you provide?

We have three different types of web map services:

  1. OS OpenSpace is a free service which uses an application programming interface (API) to embed our maps onto your website.
  2. OS OpenSpace Pro is an extension of OS OpenSpace, which gives you access to extra map layers and supports commercialisation of your website application.
  3. OS OnDemand enables you to use our maps within your organisation as a managed service. It is particularly suited to those companies running GIS departments and wishing to serve mapping to many users across the organisation.
What is your Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) correction network?

Our Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) correction network is called OS Net. We have a network of around 110 permanent GNSS stations around the country. From the observations made by these stations, errors can be calculated to provide a range of correction services.

OS Net as a service is not available commercially. Our Partners, however, use this network data to develop and provide a basket of real-time and post-process GNSS correction services to customers within a wide range of markets.

What is positional accuracy improvement (PAI)?

In 2006, we ran a programme to increase the accuracy of our products within rural areas. This has been completed and we offer a PAI summary and other useful documents in case you need to implement any of the changes arising from this work. Please see the link files page to find out how to request this archive data.

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