Data licensing for academic use

In line with NERC policy on licensing and charging for information, the BGS will usually provide access to its digital data resources under a fee-free academic data licence to assist academics with their academic teaching and research, with only a couple of exceptions:

  • if academic research is sponsored by a profit making/commercial organisation that would directly benefit from the results of the research
  • if academic research is undertaken as a result of funding secured by a competitive bidding or tender exercise that is not limited to the academic community

Apply for a data licence


Bear in mind that many BGS resources are now made publicly available under the BGS's OpenGeoscience offering. If the information you require is available under that offering and if your proposed usage is covered by the terms under which the information is made available (usually the Open Government Licence there will be no need to apply for a separate BGS data licence, but please check the terms applicable to the specific information of interest to you).

Please try to be specific about your data requirements. We will not ordinarily issue licences to cover entire BGS digital dataset(s), unless such use can be justified within the contexts of the specific research being undertaken. So, if you have a defined geographic study area of interest and/or you know which particular BGS digital datasets you need to use, please advise us of this as soon as possible so that we can ensure that your licence is activated as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are always happy to work with you to refine data requests as part of the licence application process, but as a first step you may wish to consult our products pages to get a better idea of the specific data products available.

The data may already be available to your institution via EDINA Geology Digimap based at University of Edinburgh and/or via Jisc Geospatial data developed by JISC with Airbus without the need for you to obtain a data licence from the BGS. Please check if your institution subscribes to these offerings before you apply for a BGS data licence. If your institution does subscribe, they should be able to advise you what you need to do in order to be able to access BGS data under these arrangements. If your institution does not subscribe and/or the data you want is not included in the offering, then you can contact us for a BGS academic data licence.

A BGS academic data licence will normally run for the course of your research project and will be limited to your use on that project. Please be sure to advise us if use by colleagues on the same project will be required, so that we can include this additional use on the licence documentation to ensure that all proposed use is covered under the licence.

BGS data licence documentation needs to be signed by someone authorised on behalf of the licensee institution. So, if you are a student, this will normally be a tutor/supervisor or other member of staff within your institution. Please therefore bear in mind that you will need to advise that person of your intention to secure BGS data under licence and get them to sign your licence documentation before the BGS can supply you with the data you want.


For direct enquiries about the data products please email the digital data team.

For direct enquiries about the licensing process (and licence applications) please email the digital licensing team.

For more general enquiries please email Enquiries.