Foundation/Local Chapters

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For contacting local teams, see OSM User Groups.
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Local Chapters are proposed not-for-profit legal entities to be established within different territories around the world which can act as official local representatives of the Foundation when dealing with local government, business and media.


Local chapters would be established within different territories around the world with formal contractual relationship with the foundation. There are a number of proposed local chapters to which you are free to add to. Since there is no defined agreement yet between the Foundation and any potential local chapter, there are currently no extant local chapters that have a formal relationship with the Foundation. However there are several incorporated or government-registered entities existing that can, in the future, become formal OSM local chapters.


The original proposal for regional chapters was made in late 2008. Since then the idea has been developed by the Foundation by the Local Chapters Working Group.

There was an ad hoc meeting at State Of The Map 2009 to discuss the issue of local chapters further. About 20 people from many different countries attended this meeting. Several issues were raised with the draft agreement leading to a rough consensus that a more open association would be easier to achieve because of legal problems with close ties between organisations in different countries. Instead of going on from the existing draft agreement, we should first reach consensus on the important issues on this wiki page and later draft the legal agreement.

Local Chapters Working Group

The Local Chapters Working Group is currently inactive. There have been suggestions to revive it, the more recent one during a Local Chapters related meeting at State of the Map 2018, in Milan. Visit the Local Chapters Working Group on the OpenStreetMap Foundation website for more information on this working group.

You may subscribe to the "local-chapters" mailing list.


Meetings were used to be scheduled every 2 weeks. Meeting date and time will be posted at the "Conference Calls Calendar" (XML, ICAL, HTML).

Additionally, a "Local Chapters congress" usually occurs during the international State of the Map conference, organized each year by the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

30 Jul. OSM local chapters and OSM Foundation meet up during SotM 2018 (related post)
20 Aug. Congress during SotM 2017
17 Apr. Congress during SotM 2016
03 Aug. Minutes (draft)
27 Nov. Minutes
20 Sep. Minutes
21 Mar. Minutes
19 Apr. Minutes
06 Apr. Minutes
16 Mar. Minutes
12 Feb. Notes (draft)
29 Jan. Notes
17 Dec. Notes
10 Dec. Notes
04 Sep. Minutes
24 Aug. Agenda
17 Aug. Minutes

Why local chapters?

OSMF is an organisation incorporated in Great Britain. It wants to support the OpenStreetMap project (and other free mapping projects, where applicable) in the whole world. But it can't be everywhere and reach everybody, especially people speaking languages other than English. Local chapters can extend the reach of OSMF, foster local communities, help with legal and financial matters in their respective countries and generally promote OSM in their local areas.

Some of these goals (such as handling financial matters or providing a point of contact for government or media) can also be handled by totally independent organisations supporting OSM but not associated with OSMF in any way. But working together helps OSM and makes it clear that we are all part of the same community.

Geographical scope

Chapters will be formed based on some geographic area, usually a country, but it could be for several countries together or a part of a country if appropriate. Local chapters can be existing organisations or they can be new oraginisations specifically incorporated as a local chapter of the OSMF.

Rules for local chapters

Local chapters must

  • have bylaws that describe their mission as supporting OpenStreetMap or open geodata in general similar to the OSMF.
  • be an officially incorporated legal entity in their country. (Otherwise there would be nobody to sign an agreement with. If you don't have a legal entity you can still be part of OSM in general or a member of OSMF, but you can't form a local chapter.)
  • be democratically organised, i.e. they must be membership organisations where members have voting rights. (The details on how this would be done are dependent on local laws etc.)
  • be non-profit. (In some countries it is easy to get formal non-profit status, in others its rather difficult and/or can take some time to achieve. So its not required that an organisation must be formally non-profit according to the laws of their country, but it must be clear from the bylaws.)
  • name a representative as primary contact point with OSMF.

Local chapters should

  • have at least 20 members. (This is to ensure some form of stability. Some countries also have rules on the minimum number of members for a membership organisation. Its not an absolute rule to allow for exceptions, local chapter Antarctica anyone?)

The application process

Any organisation that wants to be a local chapter applies to the OSMF board of directors (via its local chapter representative).

The local chapter representative on the board of directors checks whether all formal requirements have been met and whether he thinks the local group represents the local community. He discusses the application with the representative of the local group and clarifies any open issues. He draws up the formal legal agreement based on the general template for those agreements. While this is going on, the OSMF and local chapter representatives consult with other board members and the wider OSM community as needed.

The OSMF board of directors votes on the acceptance of the local chapter and authorises the representative to sign the agreement.

If the local chapter was accepted by the board, the representatives sign the agreement.

A point of discussion about Local Chapters (emerged at OSMit2009) was if they have the exclusive right to exercise the benefits at the local level. Wikimedia activists advised against troubles caused by having overlapping Local Chapters. If there is not a clear "by country" policy, the issue can be solved by the discretionality of the OSMF board applying for Local Chapters. But a clear policy - I think - is better than discretionality. --Niccolo 08:39, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Benefits to local chapters

As a local chapter an organisation can:

  • Use the name and logo of the OSM Foundation to promote themselves on their website, through the media and on promotional material.
  • Receive donations, funding or other resources based on their affiliation to OSM

As local chapter can not:

  • Represent itself as an official legal representative of the OSMF
  • Expect any resources, such as servers, domain names from the OSMF (except by special agreement)

Benefits to OSM Foundation

The goal of the OpenStreetMap Foundation is to encourage the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to provide geospatial data for anybody to use and share. Setting up Local Chapters helps the Foundation achieve this goal amongst a far greater number of people.

  • Local chapters heighten the visibility of OSM and OSMF in their countries.
  • OSMF has a legal entity that they can delegate local issues to (by mutual agreement).


Local chapters are separate legal entities. They have their members and the OSMF has its members.

Note that this is not what the current draft agreement says. The current draft specifies that a local chapter member becomes a OSM-Foundation member by default --Nick 14:34, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Separate memberships makes things easier and cleaner:

  • Legally, a member of OSMF or a local chapter does not only have rights, but also liabilities. Automatically making somebody a member of the other organisation might discourage people from becoming members at all.
I'm not doubting this, but I'd like to better understand the liabilities that potential members are worried about--Nick 14:35, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
In Germany and other countries it is already common that you join a local sports club and become member of the regional and national sports association automatically. This is appreciated as you often get a accident insurance with it! I don't see a problem either. --Lulu-Ann 14:54, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
What would be the benefit of this to people that just want to join the local chapter, this may discourage people from joining either OSM-F or the local chapter. --Delta foxtrot2 15:42, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
In Finland a person can't become a member of anything where they haven't applied for a membership - but I guess it can be just a tickbox "I want to join OSMF, too" and the local association can choose who they approve as a member. (Here sports clubs themselves join the regional or national unions for the licenses and insurances). Alv 15:45, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Different countries and organisational forms have different requirements on how to become a member, how to stay a member, and how to terminate your membership. Membership might also be terminated for non-payment of dues or other reasons.

Local chapters should encourage their members to also apply for OSMF membership. On the membership forms of local chapters they can have a tick box saying "I also want to join OSMF, please send my information to OSMF". If an applicant ticks this box, the local chapter will forward the personal information to OSMF.

Advisory board

Local chapters are not members of OSMF, so they have no say in the running of OSMF. But each local chapter can have a representative on the Advisory Board, that the OSMF board of directors can consult.


Local chapters are separate legal entities from the OSMF. Local chapters have their own members and OSMF has its members.

The local chapter names one person as representative (and possibly a deputy). The OSMF names one of its directors as its representative for issues of local chapters. Those people are the primary contacts for "official" business between OSMF and its chapters.

The clear separation of local chapters from OSMF makes legal matters simpler:

  • Changes to bylaws etc. can be done independently
  • Nobody can sue the Nigerian Chapter for something on the website, because this website is owned by OSMF.


Local chapters and the OSMF being separate legel entities have their own sources of income like membership fees and donations and decide on their own what to do with their money. There is no automatic payment of money from local chapters to OSMF or vice versa. This is important because of legal rules governing non-profits in different countries.

Generally local chapters are required to stand on their own financially. Of course the OSMF can pay money to local chapters if the board of directors decides to do so. In some countries its rather expensive to incorporate an organisation (legal fees for lawyers, public notaries, etc.). It might be difficult to get the money together. But an organisation that can't jump this hurdle on its own will probably not be viable in the long run anyway. So in general there is no payment from OSMF to local chapters.

If legally possible in specific cases local chapters can pay money to OSMF to help with funding servers etc. Because this might be difficult due of tax laws (especially if the local chapter is formally recognized as non-profit), other ways of helping out can be found, such as buying and running a server locally.

Active local chapters

The active local chapters on this list are organised geographically by continent on Earth and then by country or region.

Country/Region Status Website(s)
& Wiki page
# of members Contact person(s) Comments
Belgium Working Group
(en, fr, nl)
212 Ben Abelshausen Working group within the local Open Knowledge Belgium chapter, but with separate bylaws, membership and board.
France Incorporated
WikiProject France/OSM-FR
~150 Christian Quest A non-profit membership association was founded on 2011-08-10, and its name is "Association OpenStreetMap France". Local Chapter region of interest: France (including Corsica, and overseas departments and collectivities).
Germany Incorporated, (wiki),
>200 Frederik Ramm (board),
Michael Reichert (OSM coordinator at FOSSGIS),
Christoph Hormann (advisory board representative)
The FOSSGIS e.V. (Verein zur Förderung Freier (und) Open Source Software (für) Geoinformationssysteme e.V.) supports both Free and Open Source GIS Software and Open Geodata in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is now an official local chapter of the OSMF for Germany.
Iceland Incorporated Jóhannes Birgir Jensson A non-governmental organization was founded on 2013-10-24 as "Hliðskjálf, félag um opin og frjáls landupplýsingagögn". The name chosen for referencing the chapter is "OpenStreetMap á Íslandi".
Ireland Incorporated
Italy Incorporated
Local chapter/OpenStreetMap Italia
450 Lorenzo Losa, Alessandro Palmas Wikimedia Italia / OpenStreetMap Italia is a chapter of both Wikimedia Foundation and OpenStreetMap Foundation.
Switzerland Incorporated
Swiss OSM Association
44 Simon Poole The organisation is a Swiss association. Formal registration with a trade registry is not necessary at this point in time, we will probably delay that till we see how much interest there is in the organisation. Bylaws etc are on the association website.
United Kingdom Incorporated
83 Rob Nickerson OpenStreetMap United Kingdom is a Community Interest Company. Local Chapter region of interest: United Kingdom, and the British Crown dependencies (the Isle of Man, and the former Channel Islands: Jersey and Guernsey).

Proposed local chapters

The proposed local chapters on this list are organised geographically by continent on Earth and then by country or region.

Country/Region Status Website(s) # of members Contact person(s) Comments
Ethiopia Early discussion Alexm Alexm made and tries community building - but no legal local-chapter-efforts are undertaken yet (and the OSM community in Ethiopia is still way to small...). Maybe a sub-sahara-local-chapter?
Congo-Kinshasa (DRC) Forming a legal entity Claire Halleux Registration process started in 2017 with the financial support of a HOT microgrant.
Asia and Oceania
Australia Early discussion Proposed local chapters in Australia. Or should it be for Australasia? See talk page for discussion.
  • There most likely will be a local chapter in Australia, waiting outcome of discussions on local chapters before we commit. Delta foxtrot2 11:18, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Preliminary checks on local regulations indicate that the local chapter must be legally independent of the OSMF, and members cannot be automatically enrolled in both. Drlizau 18 August 2009
Japan Incorporated,
19 User:Miurahr The Japanese OSM community has incorporated (2010-12-24) an association "一般社団法人" (ippan-shadan-hōjin), named "OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan". In Japanese this is written as "一般社団法人オープンストリートマップ・ファウンデーション・ジャパン".
Philippines Incorporated 5 Eugene Alvin Villar (seav) OpenStreetMap Philippines Inc. is now a duly-recognized non-profit membership-based organization registered with the SEC.
Taiwan (Rep. of China) Early discussion 250 Dongpo Deng OpenStreetMap Taiwan is trying to be a registered group in Taiwan. So far, there are only some discussions for how and what should to do be a non profit organization..
Austria Incorporated /al Non-profit organisation (Verein "OpenStreetMap Austria") registered 21-Oct-2010, ZVR # 982950065
Estonia Incorporated 10 Jaak Laineste Jaak Laineste is the contact. Local non-profit organization MTÜ Avatud Maakaardi Selts founded in 27.08.2009
Poland Incorporated 55 Andrew Zaborowski An non-profit membership association was registered in May 2011 as "Stowarzyszenie OpenStreetMap Polska".
Russia Old discussion 14 (proposal) RU:Совет Российского OSM was active during 2012
Slovakia NGO 15 User:MichalP NGO Freemap Slovakia focused on OSM activities in Slovakia since 2011.
Spain Incorporated 9 Ivansanchez A non-for-profit entity has been incorporated as "Asociación OpenStreetMap España".
North America
Cuba Early discussion Jorge L. Batista (PB) Foundation/Local Chapters/Cuba
Canada Discussion to be incorporated Matthew Darwin Planning to create a non profit corporation.
United States Incorporated 75 Alyssa Wright Foundation/Local Chapters/United States
South America
Chile Incorporated Julio Costa Zambelli The "Fundación OpenStreetMap Chile" is a non-profit organization registered in Santiago in June 2013.
Peru Early discussion 15 Jorge Canal

Other organisations with local chapters

Some other worldwide organisations are in similar situations as OSM and it might be instructive to see how they have gone about the forming of local chapters: