Renaming tags - procedure and possibility?

I have been working with OSM for a few months now and started to look into mapping sites where you can stay over night with a campervan/camping car/RV. These sites are currently mapped as


, which I believe creates great confusion especially in those countries where a caravan is a trailer to live in that you pull behind your car. Many campervan sites explicitly prohibit caravans and finding this tag for mapping such as site is very unintuitive.

My suggestion is to rename the tag to something like




to make it clear in all cultures and languages that these sites are for campervans/campingcars/RVs and not camping trailers.

So my question is on how to proceed in such a case? Is there a protocol for a discussion about this, is there a protocol for renaming tags? Who decides this?

There are some entries about this on the TALK page for the tag, but they are from 2016 and before so it looks like nothing much happened there, even though the issue does come up from time to time.


The lingua franca of OSM is British English. We therefore use “caravan site” in its British English meaning. “Camping car” is not a phrase understood in British English. It would be more confusing to switch between different dialects for each tag - better to be (mostly :wink: ) consistent.

Re-naming widely used tags has happened only a few times in the course of OSM’s history. With a few honourable exceptions (landuse=farm to farmland or farmyard, comes to mind) renaming usually introduces more problems than those which gave rise to the idea (power is a good top-level tag to see this). Even the landuse=farm took around 8 years from original identification of the issue & solution to a concerted resolution.

The reasons for this are many-fold:

  • Lots of apps do not revise their interpretation of tags once written. It’s usually important to maintain backward compatibility with existing usage. Again farm is a good example: 2 additional tags were introduced.
  • Changes can result in subtle changes in semantics which may not be immediately apparent: for instance a give tag may be used with more, or less, precision in some countries compared with others.
  • Mass editing of tags to reflect some new key schema is a) frowned on; b) often breaks significant live applications; c) ignores current semantics; or d) just changes the overall meaning.

What works more effectively is the introduction of additional tags which clarify the meaning of the main tag. In this case as obvious approach would be to have tags on caravan sites which indicate if camper vans (RVs), touring caravans (camping cars) and tents are welcome. It looks at least some of these exist but are poorly used: camper (37 uses), campers (22 uses), campervans (3 uses); tents (7000+ uses); caravans (4000+), static_caravans (18) touring_caravans (1 usage). Tents is documented on the wiki, the others are not. In most cases I would expect values of yes or no.

I include touring caravans because in the UK there are many caravan sites which only have permanently located (static) caravans and no touring pitches, so this would be useful information for someone touring with a caravan. I would presume that the current caravans tag means touring caravans.

There have been other discussions about campervan/RV specific tagging (e.g., for pumping out on-board toilets, electrical hook-up etc), and at least one OSMer has done major journeys in a camper van.

So my advice: take a look at the two documented tags : tents & caravans. Choose one of the existing tags which indicate campervans/RVs and either a) document that in a similar fashion; and/or b) or seek feedback via the tagging mailing list.

Note that camp sites which are geared for people using tents will have exactly the same set of issues, and at present the distinction tends to be which mode is predominant. Many camp sites in Europe will also have cabins or chalets to rent, and I believe these are handled similarly to other modes. Many attendees at SotM-Fr 2015 stayed in such accommodation at this camp site:

– removed accidental duplicate of previous posting —

@SK53 Thanks for the thorough explanation. I now understand better. So the best way is to keep the tag as it is and extend places with separate tags to indicate if for example



allowed (=yes),
not allowed (=no) or
only allowed (=designated).

Would I now just add these tags to the wiki page of tourism=caravan_site to let people know that they exist and should be used as such, or is there a process to go through before this?

Thanks again!

@ghowen. Yes I think your summary is pretty much accurate. By all means add them to the wiki, but ensure they are marked as poorly used.

In this case I would also send an email to the tagging mailing list. The tags (or at least their names) will get picked to death, but it does have the advantage that often they then get noticed & added to editor presets. Someone may be interested enough to run the issue themselves.

In the meantime you can use the tags as is. If a broader consensus chooses slightly differently named tags you have at least captured the information, and tagging can be updated later. I suspect drawing broader attention to these values will draw a flurry of tagging to add the additional useful information where it does not yet exist.