Guide for mapping in Colombia

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This guide was created to standardize the names, labels, classifications of roads, streets and roads in order to create a map of Colombia that is usable, detailed, clear and consistent.

Please do not use data that violates people's privacy or data from military or police zones.



Before mapping and editting in Openstreetmap it is good to read the OSM beginners guide ,the good practice guide, get to know the editing standards and conventions, and the limitations of armchair mapping.

Tags of roads in Colombia

Street names

  • For street names use name=*. Do not use the label ref=*.*Always use the full name of the streets. Do not use abbreviations.
  • For streets that have more than one name use the semicolon as a separator.
  • Always use the new street name. If you know the old name can record it with old_name=* label


name = Calle 77       
name = Carrera 19A
name = Diagonal 45 
name = Avenida Chile; Avenida Calle 72
name = Autopista Norte, Avenida Carrera 20  old_name=Avenida 13

Street classifications

Although street classifications are well documented in Map_Features#Highway, the physical infrastructure of many roads are the same in Colombia and are therefore mapped according to their administrative authority.

  • highway=motorway. Do not use in cities and for roads that have a legal speed under 100kph. In Colombia these roads do not exist, because of the legal speed limit and even though roads exist that are called motorway (autopista) they are not tagged like that.
  • highway=trunk. Roads that have at least 2 lanes in each direction and are separated. Traverse the entire city or connect major cities and is maintained by INVIAS. Examples in Bogota: NQS, Calle 80, Autopista Norte, Avenida Eldorado, Avenue of the Americas, Avenida Boyaca, in Medellin Via Las Palmas (Part of Medellin)
  • highway=primary. Main roads interconnecting neighbourhoods across the city and larger cities that are not classified as trunk and maintained by the department (Gobernaciones). Examples in Bogota: Carrera 7, Calle 68, Circunvalar, Avenida Cali, Via Las Palmas (After Medellin), Autopista a Medellin (where only one road)
  • highway=secondary. Main streets in local areas or roads connecting smaller cities, administered by the municipalities. Examples in Bogota Carrera 15, Carrera 11, Calle 85, Street 92, Street 94
  • highway=tertiary. Minor streets through neighbourhoods and roads used to travel between towns. Administered by the municipalities. Examples in Bogota: Street 86A, Street 90

Use highway=*_link (e.g.highway=trunk_link) for roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a road from/to a road.

  • highway=unclassified. Minor roads, often unpaved, that connect small towns and hamlets and administered by the municipalities. (“The word 'unclassified' is a historical artefact of the UK road system and does not mean that the classification is unknown; you can use highway=road for that.”[[1]])
  • highway=track. Roads used mostly for agricultural or forestry reasons, that a 4 wheel vehicle or farm tractor could travel on.
  • highway=path. This is for small paths that a 4 wheeled vehicle could not travel on and are usually used by people on foot or 2 wheeled vehicles. They may or may not connect settlements or lead to farm fields.

Road numbers

  • For roads between cities use ref=*:
 ref = 50 


Addresses in Colombia contain a wealth of information and is therefore sometimes hard to tag. Basic knowledge of tagging addresses can be found on the dedicated wiki. More detailed information about how Colombian addresses are made up, here.

When you recorded addresses of buildings, plots, condos, etc. through your survey, you can add them to OSM like the flowing example;

Kr 14 no. 67-23 in Bogotá

Additional tags that can be useful/necessary

  • addr:housename=* For buildings, farms, schools that have an official or widely used name.

When possible, you should add these tags to the area you draw for the building, using for example the building=residential. Sometimes more then one building has the same address, this happens with condominiums were a group of apartment buildings share the same front gate (and one address). In this case it is probably best to draw a polygon around the condo and tag as landuse=residential and then add a main entrance node on the line of the polygon with tags entrance=private and the address details. Additionally you can then draw the buildings and tag them building=apartments but do not also add the address tags to them.


Postcodes were introduced recently in Colombia[4]. Although not widespread used yet, it is worthwhile to add them to OSM. Postcodes contain six digits, the first two being the department, the next the two postal zone, and the last two the postal district. All postcodes and their district boundaries can be found here. They can be added to the address using; addr:postcode=xxxxxx.

Postcodes Colombia by department
Departments Postcode
Bogotá D.C. 11xxxx
Amazonas 91xxxx
Antioquia 05xxxx
Arauca 81xxxx
Atlántico 08xxxx
Bolívar 13xxxx
Boyacá 15xxxx
Caldas 17xxxx
Caquetá 18xxxx
Casanare 85xxxx
Cauca 19xxxx
Cesar 20xxxx
Chocó 27xxxx
Córdoba 23xxxx
Cundinamarca 25xxxx
Guainía 94xxxx
Guaviare 95xxxx
Huila 41xxxx
La Guajira 44xxxx
Magdalena 47xxxx
Meta 50xxxx
Nariño 52xxxx
Norte de Santander 54xxxx
Putumayo 86xxxx
Quindío 63xxxx
Risaralda 66xxxx
San Andrés y Providencia 88xxxx
Santander 68xxxx
Sucre 70xxxx
Tolima 73xxxx
Valle del Cauca 76xxxx
Vaupés 97xxxx
Vichada 99xxxx

Mass transit bus

Public transport can be mapped using the general guide lines

  • For bus lines that have their own closed street like the Transmilenio in Bogotá use labels:
  • The stop is a node between the two lanes of Transmilenio with tags:
name=Calle 76
  • The station (where users access the bus) can be mapped using:
  • The label for the portal is:
name=Portal 80


Generally the global guide can be used for mapping bike lanes

  • Add cycleway=lane to highway=*. A cycle lane that lies within the roadway and is generally not separated by more then a marking on the road.

For cycle ways that lie separated (by grass, kerb etc.) from the road there are two conventions in use at the moment in Colombia (and the rest of the world).

  • Create a separate track next to the road and use highway=cycleway. This is useful because it often allows for more details but can cost more time then the second option.
  • Add cycleway=track to exciting road.

Often cycle ways have different directions then the part of the road used by cars. The general wiki provides a good guide for all different possibilities.

Ciclovia (To discuss)

In many major cities in Colombia Sunday morning designated roads are closed for motorized traffic for the citizens to bike, walk and other exercises[[5]].

The current status of tagging these roads seems to be to draw a separate road over normal roads, labelling them highway=cycleway and giving them opening hours (e.g. [[6]]). This is an older convention and today we prefer to use conditional restrictions to tag these roads.

For example

Access:motor_vehicle:conditional=no @ Su 0700-1400
Acces:bicycle:conditional=yes @ Su 0700-1400
Acces:foot:conditional=yes @ Su 0700-1400

In Bogotá, for example, the roads that are closed on Sunday morning can be found on the website of the IDRD [7].

One can also think about creating a relation between all the ways that make up that section of the route. For example, all ways that make up the route of Ciclovía on Calle 147 in Bogotá are in a relation. More information about relations and how to make routes using them.


River tags are well documented: waterway=river and waterway=riverbank .

Be careful with the name tag. The name of the rivers does not include the word Rio. For example: name=Rio Magdalena is incorrect. Better is:


Nor is it necessary to label in another language e.g. name:en=Magdalena River. It is a mistake because:

  1. The word river does not belong to the name
  2. Magdalena is written the same in Spanish and in English.

They also may include other labels to add important information.