China Tagging Guidelines

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This is a recommended tagging guide for those who want to map in mainland China.


According to the Surveying and Mapping Law of the People's Republic of China and The Map Management Regulations, if you decide to map in China, YOU MUST OBEY THE FOLLOWING RULES STRICTLY!!!




Road Types

  • This table provides editors a recommended tagging guide. For those special circumstances which may not be included, please refer to Key:highway for conventional usage.
  • When mapping National/Regional route system, editors should follow their administrative level instead of their physical conditions, from G(National) class to C(Village) class in a descending order(from trunk to unclassified)
  • For ex/old-National/Regional Routes, consider them in common circumstances instead of using the road type of their former level.
  • To describe the quality of the surface. See Key:surface for more information.
  • As for urban roads, editors should tag based on a principle that the distinction between different roads is clear. Thus, road tagging should depend on its importance in the whole network(elucidated in the underlined parts) instead of numbers of lanes or quality of surface.
  • The residential areas, commercial areas and industrial areas mentioned in this table are referred to landuse=* or amenity=* areas divided into minimum units (e.g. XX community, XX commerce center/plaza, XX factory/corporation), instead of broadly speaking large functional areas.
Key Value Element Possible Circumstance Comment
highway motorway Way 1) National Expressways with prefix G, whose number contains 1,2 or 4 digits.

2) Provincial Expressways with prefix S, whose number contains 1,2 or 4 digits.

3) Expressways connecting to an airport.

  • add ref=*
highway trunk Way 1) National highways with prefix G, whose number contains 3 digits. (add ref=*)

2) Elevated Roads or city expressways, which often contain the following words in their names(X环路、XX快速路,XX大道,XX高架), fully or partly elevated

3) Elevated roads connecting to a large public transport facility(e.g. airport or railway station)

  • For 1),See the list here
highway primary Way 1) Provincial highways with prefix S,whose number contains 3 digits. (add ref=*)

2) Roads connecting several city/districts/towns, collecting most of the inter-city traffic or long-distance traffic inside a city.

3) Roads connecting to a large public transport facility.(e.g. airport or railway station)

4) Roads connecting cities and counties.

Only used to tag a few of the most important major roads in a city.
highway secondary Way 1) County-level highways with prefix X. (add ref=*)

2) Roads connecting numerous residential, commercial, industrial areas,collecting most of the local traffic between urban areas.

3) Roads connecting to a public transport facility(e.g. airport or railway station)

4) Roads connecting counties and towns.

Note that in large cities, X-routes may have important function in suburbs, some X-routes may have already been a part of urban road network or may perform as feeders between more important highways . In conditions similar to those mentioned above, you may tag them wholly or partly as highway=primary.
highway tertiary Way 1) Township-level highways with prefix Y. (add ref=*)

2) Accommodation Highway with prefix Z. (add ref=*)

3) Roads connecting several local residential, commercial, industrial areas,collecting most of the local traffic among these areas.

4) Roads directly connect to a major building, providing people with access to the building, diverged from a motorway, trunk, primary or secondary(e.g. airport terminal, railway station main building, commercial complex)

5) Roads connecting towns and villages.

highway unclassified Way 1) Other highways with prefix Q. (add ref=*)

2) Roads connecting numerous buildings, farmlands or parking areas, collecting most of the local traffic among these facilities/buildings

3) Frontage roads on a secondary major road

4) Main roads inside industrial areas and commercial areas with connection to outside roads.

5) Roads connecting villages and residential groups.

highway residential Way 1) Main roads inside a residential area with connection to outside roads.
highway service Way 1) Roads connecting several buildings, farmlands or parking areas, collecting most of the local traffic among these facilities/buildings.2) Small roads providing access to a building, parking lots, driveway, alley, etc.

3) Roads inside a parking area, providing access to rows of parking lots. (add service=parking_aisle)

Link roads
highway motorway_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a motorway from/to a motorway or lower class highway. add  oneway=yes
highway trunk_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a trunk from/to a trunk or lower class highway.
highway primary_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a primary road from/to a primary road or lower class highway.
highway secondary_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a secondary road from/to a secondary road or lower class highway.
highway tertiary_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a tertiary road from/to a tertiary road or lower class highway.
highway motorway_junction Node 1) Exit node of an interchange

2) Exit node of an overpass hub

3) Exit node of a service/rest area

Example 1:Hwy exit Kunshan.png

(Name of the exit instead of destinations, usually the same as toll booth name)

(Name of destinations)

Example 2:Screenshot-20171025102716-262x244.png

Special roads
highway pedestrian WayArea 1) Streets only used for pedestrians in commercial and some residential areas.

2) Squares and plazas (add tagarea=yes)

highway track Way Roads for mostly agricultural or forestry uses. This tag is not describing the quality of a road but its use.
highway raceway Way Courses or tracks for (motor) racing in regular F1, bumper cars or other racing games. Do not use it for sport courses other than racing.
highway footway Way 1) Designated footpaths mainly for pedestrians or walkers.

2) Moving sidewalk

3) Paths for pedestrians as well as cyclists (add bicycle=yes)

highway bridleway Way Designated paths mainly for horses.
highway steps Way 1) Steps

2) Escalator

highway cycleway Way Designated paths mainly for cyclists.
highway path Way Trails not applicable of footway/bridleway/cycleway

Public Transportation


Key Value Element Possible Circumstance Comment
railway rail Way 1) Full sized passenger or freight train tracks in the standard gauge (gauge=1435) for the country or state. (

2) Tracks running parallel to (and connected to) a main route, which is common in stations or maintenance depots( add service=siding or service=yard or service=spur)

railway subway Way Mass underground transit tracks/routes in major cities(e.g. subway, metro) Do not mistake routes with a minority of elevated tracks for railway=monorail
railway tram Way Tracks/routes for tram vehicles, usually share roads with automobiles
railway monorail Way 1) Tracks/routes for monorail vehicles, usually elevated above a road.

2) Maglev tracks/routes

Do not mistake routes with a minority of tunneled tracks for railway=subway
railway construction Way Railways under construction

railway=construction + construction=rail

Aviation and Navigation

Type Tag Comments
Civil Airport aeroway=aerodrome Depicts the figure by following the gate fence around the airport.
Taxiway aeroway=taxiway
  • Depicts the way by following the taxiway centerline.
  • Do not use this tag on parking guidance way
Runway aeroway=runway Include overrun and threshold segment.
Apron aeroway=apron
Parking Position aeroway=parking_position Use as a way element when mapping parking guidance line;use as a node element when mapping parking position

Highway and others


  • place=* node should be placed at a location which is widely known to all locals, e.g. Location of government(committee in Economic and Technology Development Zone), Central Square or any other central statues.
  • Total population instead of urban population should be written in population=*, add population:date=yyyy-mm-dd if possible.
Admin Level Admin Boundary Type Corresponding Place Tag Comment
1 N/A
2 Nation China
3 SAR/Disputed Area SARs: Hong Kong/Macau

Disputed Areas

4 Province 22 Provinces

5 Autonomous Regions

4 Province-level Municipalities

5 Prefecture Prefecture-level Cities:place=city+population=* (Write total population of the whole city)

Autonomous Prefectures,Prefectures and Leagues: place=region (Write the population of the county-level city on the place=city node, where the seat of the Prefecture is located)

293 Prefecture-level Cities

30 Autonomous Prefectures

8 Prefectures

3 Leagues

6 County



DO NOT add population=*!(in view of huge-population counties will shade more significant cities)

1,360 Counties

954 Districts

366 County-level Cities

117 Autonomous Counties

49 Banners

3 Autonomous Banners

1 Special District

1 Forestry Area

7 Economic and Technology Development Zone(Proposed) place=suburb 219 National Economic and Technology Development Zone

820+ Provincial Economic and Technology Development Zone (as of 2013)

17 Boundary Economic Cooperation Zone

8 Township place=town 20,942 Towns

10,798 Townships

8,122 Sub-districts

985 Ethnic Townships

152 Sums

2 District Public Offices

1 Ethnic Sum

9 Quasi-Township Units(Proposed) place=quarter e.g. Community Affair Committee
10 Village/Neighborhood community place=village(admin)




≈558,000 Village Committees(as of Q2 2017)

≈104,000 Neighborhood Committees(as of Q2 2017)

11 N/A

Natural Environment


  • Default name tag uses local script, which is simplified Chinese for mainland China area. Names in other languages including those in ethic minority languages should be mentioned as the name:code=* field.[1]
  • Name in English name:en=* should follow official naming. For other currently widely-used transliteration, use separate tag int_name=*.[2]
  • Any content which considered inappropriate should not be written in default name tag like redundant words that local people do not use in daily life. (e.g. "积石山 '保安族东乡族撒拉族自治' 县“)
  • Names#Localization
  • Names#Avoid transliteration
  • Retrieved from ""