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Logo. Feature : Names
One example for Feature : Names
To provide details of the name for a feature included in OpenStreetMap.


To provide details of the name for a feature included in OpenStreetMap.

Key Variations

Key Value Element Comment
name User defined Node Way Area The common default name. (Note: For disputed areas, please use the name as displayed on, e.g., street signs for the name tag. Put all alternatives into either localized name tags (e.g., name:tr/name:el) or the variants (e.g., loc_name/old_name/alt_name). Thank you.)
name:<lg> User defined Node Way Area Name in different language; e.g., name:fr=Londres. Note that all key variants below can use a language suffix. See: Multilingual names.
name:left and name:right User defined Way Used when a way has different names for different sides (e.g., a street that's forming the boundary between two municipalities).
int_name User defined Node Way Area International name (note: consider using language specific names instead; e.g., name:en=... - see above – International does not (necessarily) mean English).
loc_name User defined Node Way Area Local name.
nat_name User defined Node Way Area National name.
official_name User defined Node Way Area It has been created for country names but we need a clarification for other cases between "name", "int_name", "loc_name" and "official_name". Example: official_name=Principat d'Andorra (where "name" is name=Andorra).
old_name User defined Node Way Area Historical/old name.
reg_name User defined Node Way Area Regional name.
short_name User defined Node Way Area should be a recognizable, commonly used short version of the name, not a nick name (use alt_name for that) and not an abbreviation (short_name issue), useful for searching (recognized by Nominatim).
sorting_name User defined Node Way Area name, used for correct sorting of names — This is only needed when sorting names cannot be based only on their orthography (using the Unicode Collation Algorithm with collation tables tailored by language and script, or when sorted lists of names are including names written in multiple languages and/or scripts) but requires ignoring some parts such as:
  • ignoring leading articles, or
  • lowering the relative importance of first names cited before a last name,
  • ignoring the generic part of a street name when it occurs before the specific name (e.g., in French with "rue", "boulevard", "place", etc.),

all of them being ignored at the primary sort level and not easily inferable by a preprocessing algorithm.

alt_name User defined Node Way Area Alternative name by which the feature is known. If there is a name that does not fit in any of the above keys, alt_name can be used, e.g., name=Field Fare Road and alt_name=Fieldfare Road, or name=University Centre and alt_name=Grad Pad. In rare cases, the key is used for multiple semicolon-separated names, e.g. alt_name=name1;name2;name3, but this usage is not preferred.
name_1, name_2, ... Do not use this tag, suffixed name tagging for multiple values is deprecated.

This table is a wiki template with a default description in English. Editable here.


Abbreviation (don't do it)

An extreme example of abbreviation: Lake Washington Boulevard Northeast and Main Street

If the name can be spelled without an abbreviation, then don't abbreviate it. Computers can easily shorten words, but not the other way (St. could be Street or Saint). If the signs have abbreviated words and you don't know what the full word is, then use it temporarily until someone else completes it. Using short forms is a decision of software, i.e., the underlying data should have the full street name. This will allow a renderer, a router or a location finder to introduce abbreviations as necessary. See, for instance, the list of abbreviations used by Name Finder and Nominatim.

Use mixed case with the first letter of each word capitalised, e.g., Church Street, not Church street. Note: Regional rules have preference over general rules. For example, in Flemish, capitalisation of last names gives a hint about the nobility status of the person. Street or company names derived from those last names should copy the same capitalisation. In non-Latin based languages, it's often not even possible to capitalise a name.

If the name is incorrect when spelled in full, however, do not falsely expand it. (For example: Wilts & Berks Canal, British placenames beginning with "St".)

Apart from following the above rules, you should always enter the full name as it appears on the street name signs.

Be aware that street signs may contain errors.

Watch out for apostrophes. The same rule applies. If the street sign has an apostrophe, the OSM data should have an apostrophe. There is no obvious consistency; the London Underground station Barons Court is adjacent to Earl's Court, one with an apostrophe, one without.

Name is the name only

The names should be restricted to the name of the item in question only and should not include additional information not contained in the official name such as categories, types, descriptions, addresses or notes. However - if something has the official name "East 110th Street" this full name should be in the name nonwithstanding the fact that the "street", the "110" and "east" might be deducible from some other information. If something really doesn't have a name, don't add a name to OpenStreetMap. Any additional information should be included in separate tags (see, e.g., aforementioned links) to identify its meaning.

Some examples of incorrect usage:

  • "Multipolygon Baldo Forest" : do not include the object type or other OSM terminology, if it does not apply outside of OSM
  • "The Royal Albert Hall, London" : do not otherwise include the location London as part of the name, even if there are multiple objects of the same name
  • "closed pub (due for demolition)" : do not describe the object in lieu of a name. Consider the description tag and also adding an old_name tag
  • "no name" : (see #No name, below)
  • "Interstate 5 southbound lanes" : do not separately name parts of the same object where they are separate in OSM, but not outside of OSM.
  • "Manchester City" : (for a city named Manchester, do not add a descriptive City; however note that New York City may be correct as the common name for The City of New York)
  • "Foobar Mountain, 8000 ft" : tag height in a separate tag (like ele=* or ele:ft=*), not as part of the name

No name

Streets which have no name are tagged noname=yes by most mappers. The idea is to clearly indicate that the street genuinely doesn't have a name, because the absence of a name tag is increasingly used to indicate areas which need to be surveyed still.

Left and right names

For way objects, names can differ by side of the object.

For example, a street may be on the boundary between Belgium and the Netherlands, Belgium gives it the name "Amsterdamsestraat" and the Netherlands gives it the name "Brusselsestraat".

This is solved by using the name:left=* and name:right=* tags to name both sides separately (using the direction of the way to determine left and right) . The name=* tag can still include both names in order to support different tools.


note: different left-and-right names doesn't exclude the existence of multilingual names (which also happens more often on country borders). So tags like name:left:fr=* are possible.

Multiple names

If you have multiple names for a feature, first try to choose a rich semantic tag like any of the ones in the table (like short_name=*, old_name=* etc.). If none of them works, choose the alt_name=* tag. If there are multiple names that do not fit, alt_name=* can be used with semicolons.


By now the majority of rendering systems can deal with unicode characters, so you can use the local script for the default name tag. There is no need to use the Latin script.

See also Multilingual names

For adding localized names in different languages, add additional name:code=* tags with a suffix on the name key, where code is a language's ISO 639-1 code (second column), or ISO 639-2 code if an ISO 639-1 code doesn't exist.

For example, name:fr=* for the name in French and name:en=* for the name in English. The default name (occupying the 'name' tag without suffix) should be the name in whatever language is used locally.

Here is an example of the usage. All these tags might appear on the same element :

name=Irgendwas        (the default name, used locally)
name:en=Something     (the name in English)
name:el=Κάτι          (the name in Greek)
name:de=Irgendwas     (the name in German)
name:pl=Coś           (the name in Polish)
name:fr=Quelque chose (the name in French)
name:es=Algo          (the name in Spanish)
name:it=Qualcosa      (the name in Italian)
name:ja=何か          (the name in Japanese)
name:ko=뭔가           (the name in Korean)
ko_rm=Mweonga  (the name in Romanised Korean) (NOT conforming to BCP 47 standard, should be: ko-Latn)

This leads to a more precise definition of alternative names.

Example of language codes according to the alpha-2 (= two-letter-)code of ISO 639-1 :

de  German
pl  Polish
el  Greek
en  English
es  Spanish
fa  Persian
fr  French
it  Italian
ja  Japanese
ko  Korean
ru  Russian
zh  Chinese
ko_rm Romanised Korean (NOT conforming to BCP 47 standard, should be: ko-Latn)

A short discussion on this language suffixes can be found on the discussion page.

Renderer support: There are a few experimental rendering systems displaying these localised names. See Map Internationalization

Import: using osm2pgsql allows users to define new .style files which can include other language's name columns and bring them into the database. In order to render from these columns it is necessary to set up PostGIS views which present these columns as 'name' instead of 'name:languagecode'. An easier alternative might be to use a lua style file to move "name:XX" if it exists to "name".

Editor support: JOSM builds 1044 and newer support the display of local names. It detects the current system locale and tries to display names in this language first. You can change the order JOSM looks for names in the JOSM expert settings. Example: To display names written in Thai first, even if the current locale is 'en' set the following property:


Avoid transliteration

Transliteration is the process of taking a name in one language, and simply changing letters from one script to another. In general we should avoid doing this with tags in the OpenStreetMap database. Everything with a name could have auto-generated transliterations, so not just city names, but every road, and every cafe! This kind of automatic augmenting with data is best left for data users. For example, Sven Geggus has demonstrated the principle of rendering with auto-generated transliterations. The German OpenStreetMap (Mapnik style) transliterates many scripts to Latin using OSM map l10n functions. We want to avoid adding in tags into our database for every named object via automated or semi-automated Import.

Instead we only put commonly used names in other languages into the database. While we typically think of these as translations, in most cases names that fit this criteria are not literal translations, example: the lake that the city of "Genève" ("Geneva" in English) lies on is in French ("Genève" is a French speaking city even if it has a German-speaking community), bordering "Lac Léman" in French (name also used in France that also borders the lake) or "Genfersee" in German (in other parts of Switzerland also bordering the same lake). The default name has to be one of the local names: "Genève" for the city, "Lac Léman" or "Genfersee" for the lake. These are names which have been used by people on the ground, speaking in different languages (In general we're following Good practice#Map what's on the ground). Transliteration is often wrong for such wellknown names that have actual translations in many languages, not strictly based on transliteration, but that may be tagged separately with explicit language codes.

But for smaller towns or villages, there's no asserted translation and entering transliterations won't really be helpful (there are several transliteration methods and users have different needs about them, it's best to let users select the appropriate tools to perform these automated conversions). For example, small towns in England probably don't have a special Russian name, unless there is a local Russian community or a local authority publishes official translations of documents in other languages (using transliterations or prefered translations). Their names can all be transliterated into Russian script, but it's not a good idea to add lots and lots of tags to all the towns in England containing these transliterated names.

As well, many transliterated names frequently have been imported as is from Wikipedia (or Wikidata) for naming their articles, but the names may have been chosen quite arbitrarily on these wikis. It's not needed to import these transliterated names in OSM: we can just link to a single Wikidata entry or a single Wikipedia article in a single language, preferably the main language used locally, in order to find the other articles.

On the opposite, some countries using an official local language not written in the Latin script (notably in China, India, and Arabic countries) are also providing their own official romanization that should be used and tagged with the appropriate tag for the target language code (multiple official transliteration schemes used locally are extremely rare or exist only for historic reasons when the schemes have changed). In other words, always prefer local sources to any other international sources for transliterations (there's a separate tag int_name=* for the later, which should be based on a wellknown international standard, e.g. IATA for airport names, otherwise use an geographic international transliteration standard scheme).


loc_name=* is for the name of a feature as it is known locally, but only where this is deemed to be too much of a slang name or otherwise unofficial-sounding. Ordinarily though, the name which local people use is the name we set in the name=* tag! Examples where we have used loc_name=*:

  • There is a bridge in Glasgow known as the Squinty Bridge, but its official name is the Clyde Arc. I have never heard anyone calling it that, so the bridge is tagged loc_name=Squinty Bridge name=Clyde Arc.
  • In Reading there's Union Street, but it's been known for decades as Smelly Alley on account of the fishmongers that lined it. The loc_name=* is ideal.


Apply when an alternative name exists, e.g., a street name has different syntax, sometimes even on street signs, although it is not only for street names.

Don't use it for abbreviations and only when one of the other name types don't apply, e.g., reg_name=* or name:lg_code=* for regional translations.

These alternative names are usually not rendered, but can be used by applications like Nominatim.


sorting_name=* is a proposed approach to supply an alternate name which systems can use for the purpose of sorting alphabetically. This would be useful for street names in some languages/countries, particularly Russian, where words like "Street" are frequently used as a prefix. This is problematic if you simply sort on the main name=* tag.

Date namespace suffix for historical names

The date namespace suffix can be used for historical names, e.g., name:1953-1990=Ernst-Thälmann-Straße.

Repeating local name with language specific tag

name=* contains "The common default name". name:lang_code=* contains name in specified language, for example name:ru=Москва contains name in Russsian language (it has language code ru) and name:en=Moscow contains name in English (language code en).

Moscow is also tagged with name=Москва, with the same value as name:ru=Москва. It is correct and useful, names in specific languages must not be deleted just because their value is the same as one in name=*.

Deprecated tags

The suffixed tags name_1=* and alt_name_1=* should no longer be used for tagging. They are the result of imports were not defined very well.

Currently, the iD Editor automatically suffixes tags that are entered twice in the raw tag editor. Please watch out for this when saving your edit, using one of the tags above.


ITO Map has a layer to highlight named and unnamed and/or addressed buildings.

See also

External links