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Free basic geodata (OGD)

swisstopo wants to provide its official data and products online, free of charge and for open access use. This step is being taken within the framework of the Open Government Data (OGD) Strategy. On 3 April 2020, the Federal Council decided on a partial revision of the Geoinformation Ordinance. Before the revised ordinance can enter into force, it must be approved by Parliament. The latter must authorise the reduction in revenue associated with the free provision.

What is at issue?

swisstopo already provides numerous online tools and geodata free of charge. These can be obtained directly from swisstopo or via the platform.

In future, all swisstopo's standard digital products, such as digital maps, aerial photographs and landscape models, will be available free of charge and freely usable. These will be made available in such a way that users can download them independently from the Internet.

In order for swisstopo to provide its geodata free of charge, several basic conditions must be met. The Federal Council took a first step on 3 April 2020 with the amendment of the Geoinformation Ordinance. This forms the legal basis for the free distribution of all swisstopo's standard digital products. The associated annual revenue shortfall of CHF 4 to 5 million still has to be approved by Parliament in the budget debate of December 2020. Only then will all the conditions be met for making the data available free of charge from 1 March 2021.


Milestones for the implementation of Open Government Data at swisstopo
Date Milestone
03/04/2020 Federal Council decision to amend the Geoinformation Ordinance.
December 2020 Budget debate in the Federal Parliament
01/03/2021 Entry into force of the amendments to the ordinance
From 01/03/2021 Data can be obtained free of charge on the Internet

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Origins and reasons

From 2021, provided that the amendments to the ordinances and the 2021 budget are approved and the technical framework for free distribution is established.

Free means without costs or fees for the standard digital products. These can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet by users without additional processing.

There are three main reasons why the period until entry into force is so long:

  • The amendment of the Geoinformation Ordinance will result in an estimated decline in swisstopo's financial income of CHF 4 to 5 million. This decline requires the approval of Parliament. The decision will be made when the 2021 budget is approved in December 2020.
  • In order to be able to provide geodata free of charge in the event of a positive decision by Parliament, swisstopo will need to adapt its IT systems. The adaptation will take a certain amount of time so that data can be obtained free of charge from 1 March 2021 at the earliest.
  • The early announcement of the free delivery of data also has the advantage that today's paying customers can adapt to the new situation and make the necessary preparations.

swisstopo is still obliged by law to charge fees.

According to the costs-by-cause principle, each citizen should pay for services provided by the State which they actually use. By refraining from charging fees, all citizens pay via their taxes. Therefore, the switch to OGD requires an overarching federal strategy, not only for swisstopo. 

Data provision

Geodata which will one day be exempt from charges should be available via / and The remaining fee-based products and services (printed publishing products and licences) will be obtained via the existing swisstopo online shop.

In future, swisstopo's standard digital products will be supplied free of charge.

The most important standard digital products which will be provided in a form which allows independent downloading, are:

  • swissALTI3D
  • swissTLM3D
  • swissSURFACE3D
  • swissTLMRegio
  • Swiss Map Raster
  • Swiss Map Vector
  • swissBUILDINGS3D
  • swissNAMES3D
  • swissBATHY3D
  • DHM25
  • GeoCover 
  • Digital data set of the winter sports-themed National Maps
  • Official directories of localities, streets and buildings

For the purchase of products in a form which is not made available for independent downloading, provision fees will continue to be charged.

  • swisstopo geoservices - WMS
  • swisstopo web access – WMTS
  • swisstopo Vector tiling-services

No, all printed products and commercial products and services will continue to be subject to a charge. This also includes paper maps.

You can already download the Swiss Map Mobile app free of charge and view all maps online. In the free version, any 10 x 10 km area can be saved for offline use. With the annual subscription of CHF 38, an area of any size can be stored offline on the device for 12 months.

With OGD, this annual fee will no longer apply. In addition, Swiss Map Mobile will be replaced by the new swisstopo app in mid-2020.

No. The costs for the production of paper maps such as printing and paper are not affected by OGD. Nor are the margins for the resellers. Therefore, the retail prices will not be changed.

The data offered free of charge is that which can be downloaded independently by users via the Internet and which therefore does not require any effort on the part of swisstopo (= standard digital products). During the first step, the most popular standard digital products are available for independent downloading . In future, however, the service could be expanded to include other federal geodata that are the responsibility of swisstopo.

The datasets include the standard digital products. There are well over a dozen datasets.  

All standard digital products and data which can be downloaded independently.

Old data, including digital data which has been prepared by swisstopo (e.g. special data formats or special sections), made available and to which access must be enabled, are subject to a fee.

Yes, the free provision has no influence on the quality of the geodata. The aim of OGD is to increase quality in the users’ fields. This strengthens demand.

The free, standard digital products are available to everyone as a public service. The aim is to achieve the broadest possible and most versatile application of the available data. However, the target groups primarily addressed are those who work with swisstopo data. This includes private and professional users and the public sector.  

The special preparation of data; special formats; data not (yet) downloadable; commercial products and services; printed products; swipos.  

The Swiss Positioning Service (swipos) is a value-added service which calculates correction data in real time for the current location of the customer from the measurement data (= geobasis data) of the Automatic GNSS Network Switzerland (AGNES), enabling centimetre-accurate positioning. In addition, swipos also integrates the transformation between the various position and height reference frames. The data made available to customers via this service is specially prepared.

Use of data

Yes. The aim is the widest and most versatile usage of the available data.

No, no fees must be paid. The digital standard products are provided free of charge to everyone as a public service.

No, no authorisation is required. However, the source must be indicated upon use.

Yes. The Terms and Conditions provide free use for all purposes. However, they oblige the user to indicate the source.

The use of Creative Commons licences, as they are commonly and widely used today, is not compatible with the legal basis (GeoIG, GeoIV). swisstopo geodata is supplied with conditions of use which comply with the legal basis. The conditions of use allow free use for all purposes and oblige the user to indicate the source.

swisstopo geodata is supplied with conditions of use which comply with the legal basis. The conditions of use enable free use for all purposes and oblige the user to indicate the source.

If you have a standard user contract (Terms of Use for Private Licence, Business Licence, Business Licence Plus, School Licence) for geodata which is now covered by OGD, the new Terms of Use for swisstopo geodata will automatically apply from the introduction of OGD. These allow much more than the existing user contract. If you have a special contract with swisstopo, you will be contacted by swisstopo. Normally the contract is cancelled with the introduction of OGD and you may continue to use the data or services.

The geodata subscription will no longer be continued. Update deliveries are no longer provided. Users download the latest data themselves from the swisstopo website, from or from Automatic delivery of updates on data support is still possible for a fee.

The geodata purchased before the introduction of OGD may be used free of charge from the introduction of OGD. The new conditions of use for OGD geodata from swisstopo apply.

Finance, personnel, law, politics

No, swisstopo is not giving away its crown jewels. The production of swisstopo's geodata is financed by public funds and the data should therefore be openly available to the public free of charge.

Today, many people already use the "supposedly" free geodata of the large international corporations. With the fees currently charged, we as a state are driving precisely customers into the arms of these corporations since the free availability of geodata on the Internet has become established as standard. In principle, the state should make it possible for those who wish to do so to use swisstopo's geodata under the same conditions and thus to have a real choice.

swisstopo is not creating any added value for itself. However, it does create added value for the economy. The free and unrestricted provision of digital geodata creates a potential for social benefits and can lay the foundations for operational and economic growth. Innovative private individuals, companies and organisations can use it to develop new applications and information services. swisstopo has no legal mandate for such applications.

The total decrease in income amounts to 10-12 million, of which 4-5 million have an effect on financing and 6-7 million on internal cost allocation.

In accordance with the costs-by-cause principle, all administrative units of the Confederation are required to charge for their services appropriately (equivalence principle). At the DDPS, the budget guidelines require that the revenues for the next estimation period correspond to the average of the last 4 years.

With the introduction of OGD, swisstopo will not be able to comply with this budget requirement. The cost recovery ratio of swisstopo will therefore fall below 20%. The financial result of the Confederation will be less attractive. The impact of swisstopo on the federal financial result is, however, very small in terms of amount.

No. With the free provision of geodata, swisstopo has a financially effective reduction in its income of CHF 4-5 million every year. This amount is covered by the Federal treasury. However, this amount is a very small part of the total financial result of the Confederation and has no impact on federal taxes.

A large proportion of swisstopo geodata is produced within the framework of government activities. Revenue from user fees is not the main focus. Income from the sale and fees for swisstopo data is already low from a business management point of view in comparison with the costs of production. However, the free provision of the data should enable new products and applications to be created which ultimately generate added value from a macroeconomic perspective.

Data from public authorities is created or collected in the course of administrative activities. It is therefore financed through tax money and is a public good. The legal mandate of a public authority, the processing stage of the data and the cost of any publication influence which data is published and how. The private sector can, in turn, develop new business models with this raw material by further processing/refining it. According to various studies, the economic potential of this further processing of data is considerable.

Yes, in principle all data is available for a longer period of time under the given link if it is stored by the data producer.

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 01 11


Relevant authority

Communication and Web

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern


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