Licensing and pricing of BGS data and information products - the basic principles


The BGS is a member of the Office of Public Sector Information 'Information Fair Trader Scheme' (IFTS), and strives to uphold the principles of openness, transparency and fairness that underpin the scheme. The BGS Executive Director's statement of commitment to IFTS is published. The BGS undertakes, as far as is possible:

  • To make available for license all information created by the BGS for any reuse, by any customer,
  • To treat all licensees and applicants alike for the same type of licence,
  • To make the process of licensing as simple and transparent as possible.


Licensing arrangements follow the following principles:

  • Information products are licensed for use in annual units of time.
  • The duration of a licence is not less than one year and not more than five years.
  • The licensee will pay in advance all charges due for the period of the licence.
  • During the period covered by the licence, the licensee will be entitled to receive without further charge any updates of the data covered by the licence issued by the BGS.
  • Under exceptional circumstances, and at the BGS Executive Director's sole discretion, longer term licences may be set for specific kinds of datasets for which updating is not expected.
  • In all cases, and for all classes of users, licensed data are provided by the BGS for internal use by the licensee only, and may not be passed to any third party without the specific permission of the BGS.


The BGS policy on pricing of its information products implements the recommendations of HM Treasury's 'Fees and Charges Guide', HM Treasury's 'Charges for Information: when and how', and UK Government reviews on the operation of public sector research establishments. In line with the policy and guidance set out above, the pricing scheme applies non-discriminatory, usage-based, fees that are applicable across the whole range of BGS digital information products.

For further information regarding licensing costs, including worked examples, please visit the 'How much will I pay for a licence?' section.

By agreement, the BGS also allows packages of its data and information products to be resold by other suppliers (known as Licensed Data Suppliers) in their own market areas. Standard BGS licence terms, conditions and prices apply to the end user. A royalty of 20% is returned to the Licensed Data Supplier on data licensed in this way.

BGS's 'raw data'

The BGS does not charge for its raw data (such as borehole records), but in line with HM Treasury guidance ('Charges for Information: when and how') the BGS recovers the allowable marginal costs of locating, retrieving, copying, delivery etc. of those data, and a small allowable contribution to operating costs and necessary IT infrastructure.


There are a very few exceptions to the above principles of pricing and licensing. The most important of these are:

  • Academic use of BGS data and information products.
  • A quid pro quo arrangement is in place to encourage individuals and organisations to donate copies of borehole records with the BGS National Geoscience Data Centre, so expanding the dataset in the national interest. In return for new materials, donors are eligible to an 80% discount on borehole records already held by the BGS.
  • In specific cases of unforeseen national emergencies, where speedy supply of data to relevant organisations is essential, the BGS Executive Director reserves the right to postpone payment of the Data Use Charge or, in extremis, even waive payment on the basis of a written agreement.
  • Information products in preparation are not normally available for licensing. All BGS information products are subject to quality procedures and must be approved before being made available for licensing.


Below are template versions of the documentation BGS issues to cover the release of its digital materials:

Please be aware that the templates are provided solely in order to give guidance as to the kind of terms and conditions under which BGS may release its digital materials. Individual arrangements may vary, dependent upon the particular end user requirements and the materials being released.


For further information on any aspect of BGS's pricing and licensing policy please contact us.