The provisions of the Federal Geoinformation Act (SR 510.62) and the associated ordinances governing the creation, distribution and use of official survey and geological datasets have been in force since 1 July 2008. The new legislation secures special legal protection of these datasets. Access to, and use of, swisstopo geodata are regulated by the ordinances on geoinformation (SR 510.620), official surveying (SR 510.626) and geology (SR 510.624) dated 21 May 2008, and the ordinance of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport on fees and charges of the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo ordinance on fees and charges, SR 510.620.2) dated 20 November 2009.
The relevant legal provisions stipulate that a distinction has to be made between commercial and private use of the official data. The provisions of the Federal Copyright Act of 9 October 1992 (SR 231.1) therefore apply analogously. Data obtained for own use is largely restricted to private purposes. In order to enable users of official geodata to benefit from wider use in a simplified manner, a variety of licence types have been defined, some of which include an additional predefined commercial use clause.
Private licence (obtainable directly from toposhop)
A private licence entitles the holder to use the geodata for his or her own purposes in accordance with the Geoinformation Act, i.e. solely for internal information / documentation and educational purposes. This type of licence is generally not suitable for companies, since it prohibits any form of forwarding of data to third parties (including publication), and use for performing mandates.
Commercial licence (obtainable directly from toposhop)
A commercial licence is more or less equivalent to the previously existing company licence that was issued in accordance with the former legislation. It entitles the holder to use the data for broader purposes than own use. The licensed data can be published to a predefined extent, passed on to subcontractors and used for performing mandates. This type of licence is especially suitable for companies, cantons, municipalities and federal authorities.
School licence (obtainable from toposhop following a verification process)
A school licence may be applied for by public schools and universities in Switzerland. In accordance with Article 47 of the Geoinformation Ordinance (SR 510.620), approved institutions only have to pay the costs of preparation and delivery of the data. They also have to provide evidence that they meet the requirements for obtaining a school licence. Data ordered in toposhop can only be downloaded after a verification process has been completed.
Licence for non-profit organisations (available upon request)
Licences for non-profit organisations have to be specially requested. In accordance with Article 47 of the Geoinformation Ordinance (SR 510.620), approved organisations only have to pay the costs of preparation and delivery of the data. For verification purposes, the organisation concerned is required to submit evidence of a corresponding tax exemption as a non-profit institution. This normally takes the form of an official letter of confirmation from the cantonal tax administration.
Project licence (available upon request)
Project licences may be requested for special uses:
- By universities that work together with private, industrial or international partners within the scope of projects to be implemented within a defined timeframe
- By companies and organisations that group together for the purpose of implementing a project within a defined timeframe and do not already hold a commercial licence
General licence (available upon request)
A general licence is a special commercial licence that authorises the use of geodata within groups of companies. This type of licence always has to be issued on the basis of an agreement, and applicants have to meet the following requirements:
- At least 3 entities (legally independent units) within the group have to be involved
- In the case of holding companies or similar corporate forms, the parent company must have a stake of at least 50 percent in each entity that is defined in the general licence
- Within the group of companies, a central unit (usually the parent company) has to distribute the data
All other uses that extend beyond those described in the respective licence types are regarded as commercial use. Use of official survey and geological data for commercial purposes requires special permission.
- Permission to reproduce or publish geodata can be requested online via the corresponding form.
- General enquiries concerning the commercial use of geodata: