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Available languages — Key:traffic_sign
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Public-images-osm logo.svg traffic_sign
Zeichen 136-10.svg
Traffic signs give instructions or provide information to road users.
Group: Highway
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areasuse on relations unspecified
Status: De factoPage for proposal

The traffic_sign=* tag is used to map traffic signs such as city-limit signs or any other traffic signs.


Traffic signs give instructions or provide information to road users. Some signs are only relevant at the place where they're mounted (like e.g. a stop sign - called point-related signs from now on), while others affect a section of the road (like e.g. a "no overtaking" sign - called section-related signs).

How to map

Traffic signs can be mapped by adding the traffic_sign=* tag to either a single node or a way (or, if applicable, also an area).

Point-related signs can be mapped by tagging a node, while section-related signs can be mapped by tagging a way (or area). You may also map a section-related sign by tagging it as a node if you only know where the section begins or if you just want to explicitly specify its physical location. Keep in mind that additional tagging is necessary to indicate the end of the section in this case.

The implications of a traffic sign should always be tagged on the concerned section of the road itself as well. When mapping a speed limit sign for example: always add a maxspeed=* and a source:maxspeed=sign tag to the road itself.

On nodes

It is possible to use a node which is part of a way, or to create a separate node beside the road. Both methods are used in practice.

As part of a way

Create a new node within the relevant way next to the sign. This method allows software algorithms which operate on ways (like e.g. routing algorithms) to consider the sign, but makes it impossible to know the exact position of the sign. A renderer can at best assume that the sign is located somewhere next to the road.

You can use traffic_sign:forward=* to specify that this sign affects vehicles moving in the same direction as the OSM way. The opposite direction can be tagged with traffic_sign:backward=*. Formerly the direction=* key has also been used to describe the affected direction. But its common meaning has changed to Relative to Geographic North.

Only the affected direction can only be specified by using nodes which are part of exactly one way Way. Avoid junction nodes and nodes between two ways as well (where they have been split, but are connected by a node). If in doubt, better simply insert a new node into the way instead of using an existing one.

As a separate node

Create a separate node beside the road at the position of the actual sign. This allows to map the exact physical position of the sign, but it is impossible to reliably deduce the affected road or travel direction in this case. Software algorithms which operate on ways will thus generally not be able to consider the traffic sign, but only the tags of the way instead.

You can use the direction=* tag to describe the facing orientation of the sign by using an angle or cardinal direction.

On a way or area

When tagged on a way or an area, the traffic_sign=* tag describes the traffic sign(s) that apply to that way or area. The tag is not meant to mark the actual position of the sign in this case, but the affected way or area instead. It should however be assumed that the physical location of the sign is at the beginning and / or the end of the affected section (but note that the affected section may be comprised of multiple ways within OSM).

You may use traffic_sign:forward=* to specify that this particular sign affects vehicles moving in the same direction as the way, or traffic_sign:backward=* to specify that the opposite direction is affected.


It is common to use both human-readable values (like city_limit) as well as national traffic sign IDs (like DE:310).

Multiple signs can be tagged by using different separators. Traffic signs which are unrelated to each other (like e.g. speed limit and no parking) are separated by semicolon ;. Related signs (like e.g. no entry plus except buses) are separated by comma ,.

Human-readable values

Key Value Element Sign Comment Additional tags on the way
traffic_sign city_limit Node Zeichen 310.svg City or village sign. zone:traffic=DE:urban
traffic_sign maxspeed Node Maxspeed.svg Maximum speed sign. Usually tagged as node although they're actually section-related signs. maxspeed=* + source:maxspeed=sign
traffic_sign stop Node Zeichen 206.svg Stop sign. Usually tagged as highway=stop instead. highway=stop (on a node)
traffic_sign give_way Node UK traffic sign 602.svg Give way sign. Usually tagged as highway=give_way instead. highway=give_way (on a node)
traffic_sign overtaking NodeWay Zeichen 276.svg No overtaking sign. overtaking=no
traffic_sign maxwidth NodeWay Zeichen 264.svg Maximum width sign. maxwidth=*
traffic_sign maxheight NodeWay Zeichen 265.svg Maximum height sign. maxheight=*
traffic_sign maxweight NodeWay Zeichen 262.svg Maximum weight sign. maxweight=*

Traffic sign IDs

Signs specific to a particular country should be mapped by the country-indicating prefix followed by a colon and then the traffic sign.

  • The country prefix should be the two-letter code. This prefix is separated by a colon : from the sign
  • Traffic signs should be represented by their official ID.
  • Multiple unrelated signs should be separated with a semicolon ;.
  • If traffic signs are related, the additional sign IDs should be separated from the main sign by comma ,
  • Where the traffic sign requires a value, you can supply it after the ID using brackets [value]. The value may contain a dot . as decimal separator and a minus - for negative values.

Lists of IDs per country


UK traffic sign 956.svg traffic_sign=UK:956
UK traffic sign 616.svg
UK traffic sign 954.svg
UK traffic sign 523.1.svg traffic_sign=UK:523.1[-10]
Belgian road sign F4a.svg traffic_sign=BE:F4a
Zeichen 260.svg
Zusatzzeichen 1020-30.svg
Zeichen 265.svg

Editor support

JOSM has an icon for the value city_limit and also renders icons for the keys maxspeed=*, maxweight=*, maxheight=* and some more if tagged together with traffic_sign=*. While for maxspeed the actual value is shown, the other keys use a generic icon, which always shows the same value independent from the actual value specified in the respective tag.

The style Lane and Road Attributes currently renders traffic signs for maxspeed and overtaking. For maxspeed the icon shows the actual value specified in the tag.

The following table list some examples together with the actual rendering result in JOSM.

Tags Description Rendering result in JOSM
Speed limit of 50 km/h JOSM Screenshot Maxspeed 50.png
End of speed limit JOSM Screenshot Maxspeed implicit.png
maxspeed=30 mph
Speed zone with 30 mph JOSM Screenshot Maxzone 30mph.png
Overtaking forbidden JOSM Screenshot Overtaking no.png
Overtaking allowed JOSM Screenshot Overtaking yes.png
Overtaking forbidden and a speed limit of 70 km/h JOSM Screenshot Overtaking no Maxspeed 70.png
End of speed limit and overtaking is allowed. JOSM Screenshot Maxspeed implicit Overtaking yes.png

See also

Category:Road sign