MWG Fee Waiver Manual

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page is about the membership fee waiver program of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Feel free to translate it in languages other than English (also see text below). If you want to make any changes, we kindly ask you to first contact the Membership Working Group (, cc'ing the Communication Working Group ( Thank you.

About the OpenStreetMap Foundation

The OpenStreetMap Foundation[1] is a not-for-profit organisation, formed in the UK to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations [2], and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference[3]. It has no full-time employees and it is supporting the OpenStreetMap project through the work of our volunteer Working Groups[4]. Please consider becoming a member and read below about our fee-waiver program.

Joining the OSM Foundation as a member

The OpenStreetMap Foundation needs you as member. Members are vital to our project and we welcome all who support our goals to join[5] us. Some of the reasons of why should you join are to:

  • Influence the future direction of the project. Vote in the annual OSM Foundation elections for the board that steers the project.
  • Show your support for OpenStreetMap.

The membership fees also:

  • Keep OpenStreetMap’s servers running. Our volunteer sysadmins rely on the OSM Foundation to provide the server hardware.
  • Support our volunteer working groups. Our Working Groups keep OpenStreetMap safe from vandalism and legal threat, resolve licensing issues, organise conferences, keep our hardware and software up to date, any many other things.

The Membership Fee Waiver program

Joining[6] the OpenStreetMap Foundation used to always require a membership fee (£15 per year, which you can pay by PayPal or bank transfer). However, if you are involved in the OpenStreetMap project, and cannot pay this membership fee, it can be waived[7]. Some OSMers live in a country under economic sanction/embargo (and thus without PayPal). Others are in nations where the bank transfer costs themselves exceed the cost of membership. Others live under circumstances where this fee alone would constitute a substantial personal financial hardship. One of the main reasons for the Membership Fee Waiver program, is a wish to be more representative of mappers from around the world.

To address this, the Fee Waiver Program was created, which, for those who qualify, will grant an Associate Membership in the Foundation at no cost, subject to annual renewal.

The fee-waiver program has been developed under the Board’s direction by the volunteers of the Membership Working Group [8], with particular thanks to Joost Schouppe, and Michael Spreng and Steve Friedl who have kept up the regular work with the Registrar.

Associate members
  • Associate members have the right to vote in OSMF elections on most (but not all) issues, if they have been a member for 30 days prior to the Annual General Meeting (AGM)[9].
  • Associate members do not have to disclose their residential address, just their country of residence, name and email address.
  • Associate members cannot be board candidates (they have to switch the membership to normal).

Associate Members who have joined under the fee-waiver program have the same rights as any other associate member.

  • The fact that you joined under this program is not made public.
  • You will have to re-apply to the waiver program each year.

There is no waiver available for Normal or Corporate Memberships.


You are eligible to apply for a fee waiver if:

  • You are an active mapper, and are from a country which lacks suitable money transfer.
  • You are an active mapper, and paying the membership fee would present an unreasonable burden to you because of financial hardship.
Active mapper

You are an active mapper if you have edited in three different calendar months in the last twelve months. This will be checked by looking at the OSM edit history for your user name. That is why it is required to provide your username.

Suitable money transfer
From several countries, it is not possible to make PayPal transactions, and bank transfers are very expensive. This is why active mappers from the following countries are automatically accepted under the fee waiver program: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Iran, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Timor-Leste and Uzbekistan. The list of countries is subject to change over time. If you are in such a country but it’s not listed, please contact the Membership Working Group (MWG) at

We also understand there are countries where the costs of money transfers to our bank in the United Kingdom are prohibitively high, and we also request those in this circumstance to contact the Membership Working group as well; we need your help.

Financial hardship

If you want to join the OSMF, but paying the membership fee is impossible to you because of your financial situation, you can apply for a "financial hardship" fee waiver. To be accepted, you need to be an active mapper, but you also need to explain:

  • How you are contributing to the project, through mapping or other things (software, organizing, etc.).
  • Why you cannot pay the membership fee.

Your argumentation is passed to the Board, who decide on whether or not to accept your application.

If you are from a country on the list of the "suitable money transfer", we strongly suggest you apply for that waiver (and not financial hardship), as it is less work for both you and the OSMF.

How to fill in the forms

The forms are linked from and reside at:

You can fill the form in a language other than English. Please note that non-English submissions might take longer to process.

Suitable money transfer

Suitable money transfer form

Form for suitable money transfer

1. First name: your given name

2. Last name: your surname

3. Country of residence: where you live now

4. E-mail: . Your contact e-mail. This will be our main way of contacting you with OSMF business, so please use an e-mail you actively monitor

5. OpenStreetMap username: your username when editing the map. You can check if you spelled it correctly by going to your profile:[what you filled in].

Financial hardship

Financial hardship form

1. First name: your given name

2. Last name: your surname

3. Country of residence: where you live now

4. E-mail: . Your contact e-mail. This will be our main way of contacting you with OSMF business, so please use an e-mail you actively monitor

5. OpenStreetMap username: your username when editing the map. You can check if you spelled it correctly by going to your profile:[what you filled in].

6. You are applying for financial hardship. Present your situation in the text field below. The board will decide on your particular case then. Please provide the Board with enough information to decide. Explain why you cannot make the payment, and also share the scope of how you are contributing to OpenStreetMap. Both aspects will be taken into consideration. This is the field where you explain in some detail why you cannot make the payment, and also how you are contributing to the OpenStreetMap project.


  • Apply via one of the forms linked from
  • The Membership Working Group[10] will check whether you are an active mapper.
  • The MWG will check whether you automatically qualify for a fee waiver.
  • If you applied in a language other than English, your application will be translated by a volunteer who has signed a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Financial hardship applications of active mappers are sent to the board for voting and the results are minuted[11].

Applications in languages other than English take longer to process.
The results of your application are made known to you by the MWG.

How to help