Data protection and subject access requests

As an organisation that handles personal information and data, Ordnance Survey must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

The main principles of the DPA are that personal information shall:

  • Be processed fairly and lawfully.
  • Be obtained for only one or more specified and lawful purposes.
  • Be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose(s) for which they are processed.
  • Be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.
  • Not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.
  • Be processed in accordance with the rights of the data subject under the DPA.
  • Be kept in such a way to prevent unauthorised or unlawful use of the information, accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, the personal information.
  • Not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area.

Please see our privacy policy for details on how we collect and use your personal data. 

All staff must comply with our Data Protection policy. Ordnance Survey annually reviews the personal information we hold and how we use it.

In April 2016, the EU Commission formally signed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). This regulation is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union (EU) and also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.

Compulsory compliance with the Regulation is set for 25 May 2018 and Ordnance Survey is committed to implementing the technical and procedural controls required to meet the new data protection principles in Article 5 of the GDPR set out below.

New data protection principles

Personal data shall be:

  • Processed fairly, lawfully and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject.
  • Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed for other purposes incompatible with those purposes (purpose limitation).
  • Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (data minimisation).
  • Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date. Every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regards to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay (accuracy).
  • Kept in a form that permits identification of the data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed. Personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the Regulation in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the data subject.
  • Processed in a way that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures. (integrity and confidentiality).

The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with the principles (accountability).

This Data Protection page will be updated with new information from time to time as we implement the new principles. Further information on the GDPR can be found on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

Applications for personal information – Subject Access Requests

Under the right of subject access in the DPA, you are entitled to request a copy of the information an organisation holds about you. You are only entitled to your own personal data, and not to information relating to other people (unless you are acting on behalf of that person). This is known as a Subject Access Request.

Unless there is an applicable exemption, you are entitled to be:

  • Told whether any personal data is being processed.
  • Given a description of the personal data, the reason it is being processed, and whether it will be given to any other organisation or people.
  • Given a copy of the information comprising the data and given details of the source of the data (where this is available).

Please note that should another person request information about you, unless specifically allowable under the FOIA or DPA (normally for other legislative purposes), their request is likely to be refused under the section 40 personal information exemption under the FOIA.

Ordnance Survey is obliged to respond within 40 calendar day of receipt of a Subject Access Request.

Please note that Ordnance Survey will not make a charge for responding to Subject Access Requests.

How to make a Subject Access Request

Subject Access Requests should be in writing and may be submitted by letter or email. So that we can respond fully, they should include your name and correspondence address (email address where applicable). You should also provide as much detail as possible to enable us to identify the information sought.

Before responding to your Subject Access Request, we will require proof of identity, to ensure that we do not release the information to anybody else other than the Data Subject (you). If information is required in a particular format, for example, a photocopy or electronic copy, this should also be stated in the application.

If we need more information from you to help us find your information or identify you, we will ask you for further information. We will wait until we have all necessary information before dealing with the Subject Access Request.

If you have difficulty in identifying the precise information you require, or difficulty in making the application in writing, please contact our staff, who will be pleased to help you.

Phone 03456 050505 or email

Subject Access Requests should be addressed to:
The Data Protection Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Explorer House
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Or email the Data Protection Officer at

Appeals procedure

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with our response to a Subject Access Request, please contact the Data Protection Officer to discuss your concerns.

Following this, if you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right to appeal our decision directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office at the contact details below. The Information Commissioner’s Office will assess whether they wish to take further action.

Request a review by the Information Commissioner on the ICO website or by calling 0303 123 1113.