Hi everyone,

I’m writing today to tell you about some legal changes we’re making behind the scenes here at OpenCage.

To date the OpenCage geocoder has been run as a brand of OpenCage Data Ltd, a UK limited company. A few weeks ago we created OpenCage GmbH, a German Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung - the German equivalent of a limited company. OpenCage GmbH now owns 100% of the UK limited company.

In the coming weeks we will switch all operations of the UK limited company to the GmbH.

Why are we making this change?

The fact that we were a UK limited company was a bit of a historical anomaly. The OpenCage project was originally spun out of a UK company (Lokku Ltd) in 2015 when that company was sold. The easiest thing to do at the time was to create a new UK company, which we did.

Fast forward to 2019 and a few things have changed:

  • The founders/management team of OpenCage no longer live in the UK.

  • Last year the European Union introduced significant new legislation, commonly known by the acronym “GDPR”, around data protection. This legislation has (correctly) brought a new awareness to and focus on data privacy. Many EU companies are increasingly interested in keeping their data in the EU.

  • The UK has decided to leave the EU. While it’s still unclear exactly when and in which form the UK’s exit from the EU will happen, numerous EU customers have asked us about whether our service will remain GDPR compliant.

For all of these reasons we are moving the legal base of our business to Germany.

Why Germany?

We want a base in the EU so current and future customers are in no doubt of our commitment to GDPR. Some of the team is already based in Germany, and both founders are German citizens, so it made sense to base our business there.

What does this change mean for users of our Geocoding API?

  • The technical specifics of our API will not change in any way. Our domain name will not change, all software will keep on working as it always has. We know that one of the key things clients value about our service is our stability.

  • Our servers will continue to be hosted where they always have been: in the EU, mainly in Germany. You can read the exact details on our GDPR page.

  • Our commitment to privacy and GDPR is not changing.

  • The team operating the OpenCage service is not changing.

  • Our language of operation will remain English - though of course you can also contact us auf deutsch, as many of our German-speaking customers already do.

For our customers a few things will change:

  • Invoices will come from OpenCage GmbH instead of OpenCage Data Ltd.

  • Our pricing will not change. Customers will continue to be able to pay in the major currency of their choosing.

  • Credit card billing will continue to be handled by payment processor Stripe. Just as it is now we will have no access to customer payment information, all of that is held with Stripe. Subscription customers will not need to re-enter payment information.

  • Customers who pay by bank transfer will need to transfer funds to a new account number. This will of course be clearly listed on invoices.

  • We will pay VAT in Germany instead of the in the UK.

    • For UK customers: VAT will no longer be broken out, instead it will now be reverse charged like for all other EU markets. Once the UK leaves the EU that may or may not change. Unfortunately there is currently no clarity about when or how the UK will leave the EU, and what will come thereafter.

    • For German customers: VAT will now be broken out.

  • With some customers we have signed custom Data Processing Agreements. We will contact each customer and sign new agreements as the new German legal entity. Our standard Data Processing Agreement will be changed to reflect the new legal entity.

What happens next?

  • We’ll be contacting all of our UK and German customers individually to make sure they are aware of this change.

  • As soon as the last legal formalities are cleared - we’re currently waiting for our shiny new German VAT number and various other company registrations - we will transfer the operations to the GmbH, update our site to reflect this change, and begin billing customers from that entity. We anticipate this will happen in mid-July 2019. We will post here on the blog once the change occurs.

  • We plan to continue to be a proud member of the OpenStreetMap UK CIC, and of course continue to contribute to geoinnovation in London by organizing #geomob. By the way, our next London event is on 19th of June, we hope to see you there.

  • We will be joining FOSSGIS e.V., the German non-profit that supports open source geo and is the local chapter of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. We’re already members of the German Association for Geoinformatics, GeoIT and Navigation e.V.

We look forward to this next stage in our story and to continuing to serve customers around the world. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Mit freundlichem Gruß,

Ed and Marc Tobias and the OpenCage team