Differing approaches to tagging vending machines for motor fuel dispensing have caused confusion

We’re specifically discussing standalone vending machines typically found in rural areas on side of the road with higher prices and limited fuel capacity, although cars can still use them.

Two tagging scenarios are outlined on the OpenStreetMap wiki:

A. amenity=vending_machine + vending=fuel

  • According to amenity=fuel, these tags are intended for micro-mapping individual fuel pumps.
  • These tags align with the iD editor preset “Gas Pump,” as confirmed by developers.

B. amenity=fuel + vending_machine=yes + vending=fuel

  • The origin of vending_machine=yes is unclear, as it lacks standalone documentation.

In our Thailand community, we’ve struggled to reach a consensus in the past. Some new mappers have recently been switching between these schemes in an attempt to make them render in OsmAnd.

I’m concerned that these changes might lead to edit conflicts. Reaching an agreement has been on my to-do list for too long, and I think it’s time to revisit this topic.

What’s your take on this?


As you correctly point out, this topic has always been contentious. I was among the first of the Thailand mappers to attempt to standardize the tagging of these fuel stops. The original idea was to somehow tag them differently from the usual amenity=fuel because they were mostly used to fuel motorcycles and other small vehicles. The fuel used to be dispensed in 1-liter bottles; electric pumps came along a few years later and now have often replaced the older bottle dispensaries. An automobile can in practice obtain fuel from such a place but it’s not very practical and probably not often done.

I am no doubt one of the people who popularized the tag vending_machine=yes on these objects and I can’t now recall my motivation for doing that. Maybe it was because with amenity=fuel already in use, amenity=vending_machine wasn’t available as a top-level tag, yet these fuel stops are indeed vending machines. In my presets for tagging them, I eventually included shop=no so as to make it obvious that these were not shops in the usual sense.

To my mind, the tagging that I ended up with after many discussions about this issue still doesn’t properly describe this feature. My tagging was a compromise based on those discussions in the past. I’m not as involved with OSM as I once was so my practices, which I used to discuss on the tagging list, haven’t changed much for a few years. By using the following tagging scenario I tried to “cover all the bases” so that future mappers could understand what these fuel points actually are.

  •  amenity=fuel
  •  vending_machine=yes 
  • automated=yes
  • vending=fuel
  • shop=no
  •  operator=independent
  • opening_hours=24/7
  • payment:cash=yes
  • payment:credit_cards=no
  • name=*
  •   source=*
  •   note=*

When other mappers started using amenity=fuel to tag individual pumps, I gave up trying to stay abreast of any future changes.

I doubt this will help much but maybe it will.

Sorry about the formatting in the above list. I haven’t used Discourse much and am too lazy to try to figure out what went wrong. Those tags are merely part of a bulleted list that went sideways somehow.

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Thanks for providing the context and clearing things up.

To me, it seems logical to use amenity=fuel with additional tags for this purpose.

I was curious why you didn’t apply the same approach to drummed fuel and instead introduced a separate tagging method (shop=fuel). Over time, the tag wiki page has expanded to cover unrelated products like coal, wood pellets, and firewood, which doesn’t seem quite right anymore.

It seems to me that some tag is needed, that indicates the limited nature of these things. At least in Sweden, there’s a fair number of fully-automated petrol stations to which all the tags in that list would apply, with the exception of payment:credit_cards=no and possibly operator=independent, but where you can easily fill up your car. (At least, there used to be — I don’t drive, so I don’t really keep up with car-related infrastructure…)

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Using shop=fuel was a first solution to distinguishing these fueling stops from a full-fledged petrol station tagged with amenity=fuel. I’m not sure now exactly how I decided on that tagging. Also, unfortunately, shop=fuel was already being used to describe shops selling charcoal and other assorted fuels. Naturally that added to the confusion.

Maybe, as you suggest, the best solution going forward is to tag all fueling stations with amenity=fuel regardless of their size or capabilities and then add pertinent tags to further characterize them.

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Tagging it with amenity=fuel and extra tag meaning “not actually amenity=fuel” seems like a poor idea to me

amenity=vending_machine + vending=fuel seems fitting

But I am really confused about its use for individual fuel pumps at gas station.

shop=fuel is obviously for shops selling fuel, what includes for example coal and charcoal.

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We have these lone pumps mostly serving the farming communities, which I would tag fuel:diesel=yes, sometimes fuel:octane_95 as well.

Tagging it with amenity=fuel and extra tag meaning “not actually amenity=fuel” seems like a poor idea to me

amenity=vending_machine + vending=fuel seems fitting

what do you mean by “not actually amenity=fuel”? Almost every petrol station around here operates automatically 24/7 but also might have staff there during some daytime hours (or all night long in special locations like motorway service stations). These are „normal gas stations“ (selling fuel with a pump). None of these has infinite resources naturally, they have underground tanks and when these are empty they won’t be able to sell you fuel, quite similar to a business selling fuel from drums.

Not sure I understand this thread

Unstaffed amenity=fuel is a common feature in Europe, there is no need of a separate tag.

The fundamental difference is method of payment, which is usually card only.

I guess it depends on how much higher prices are and how much limited supply of petrol is

I am familiar with fully automated petrol stations, some even without staff whatsoever.

But as I understand, at least some of this vending machines are utterly impractical for fuelling car (as cost would be multiple times higher and filling tank would take quite long time) - but maybe that was unusual case? And typically price is say 20% higher and it takes just 40% longer to fill tank?

The fundamental difference is method of payment, which is usually card only.

payment is a different question, and available methods largely depend on the customs in the area, there are many automatic fuel pumps where you can pay in cash (you insert the bills and will then get petrol up to the price of what you paid in advance)

In Thailand, these vending machines are primarily designed for motorcycles, considering that about 87% of households own at least one motorcycle. They exclusively accept cash payments, including coins and bills, and their prices are typically 20% higher. Cars would only resort to using them if they’re running low on gas and there’s no major gas station nearby.

Why though? According to the wiki, amenity=fuel is defined as ‘retail facilities for refueling motor vehicles.’ Wouldn’t drummed fuel shops and vending machines also fit within this definition?

I suppose it hinges on how much regional (and other) variation in the meaning of a tag we are prepared to accept. I haven’t checked, but I guess that any amenity=fuel in Europe is a place where you can fill the petrol tank of a typical car in a minute or two. I know even less, but still guess that this is also true for most amenity=fuel in Thailand. If you pull up to one of the places we are discussing now in your 2-liters-per-ten-km pickup truck, it looks like you are going to be annoyed.

So, again, at least some tag to indicate the limitations seems called for. Some people would probably call that “troll tagging” — “this is a petrol station… except that it isn’t!” () as Matteusz alludes to and argue that it needs a different top-level tag. Then again, I believe it’s accepted that a highway=trunk in some parts can be a dirt track that closes after heavy rains, so I don’t know…

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note that I am not claiming that it would be definitely troll tag, not sure how usable it would be for car drivers

maybe this definition (almost certainly written by someone from Europe where such motorcycle fuel station is rare if it exists at all) should be modified and require such place to be focused on cars/trucks

maybe such motorcycle fuel station should be tagged as amenity=fuel

(though experiment: imagine place selling fuel only to petrol-powered lawn movers: is it amenity=fuel?

or what about “fuel station” selling petrol for fuelling small petrol-fuelled models of cars - should it be amenity=fuel?

I kind of feel in this way about these places - though inventing new tag and getting it rendered would be quite uphill battle)

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I don’t think it is a matter of regional understanding. I believe that the wiki for amenity=fuel implies that there are ppumps that can dispense a variable amount of fuel. This important when it comes to filling up the tank of a small car or larger vehicle. In contrast to vending machine that only allows for the purchase of containers with a predetermined amount. Something that is useful for motorcycles and motorized bikes. Larger vehicles might be able get enough to make it to the nearest amenity=fuel.

amenity=fuel sets off our friend Osmose in Italy begging for a unique ref:mise code (invalid or missing flag) as issued by the Ministerial office of Economic Development and has the exact lat/lon in the registry to go with it. Not there, you can’t be selling taxable fuel. Still done anyway as red tape fails.

Ok, the Italian government has additional regulations for fuel pumps. Than it is even more of a reason to use the correct tag for the methods of dispensing fuel.

it doesn’t matter how you dispense from the legal point of view in Italy, a pump is not required. It is about what you sell (petrol useful for motorvehicles / subject to fuel taxation). It isn’t very popular in Italy to sell petrol from barrels, but if you did you would have to correspond to the MISE requirements.