Chinese tagging guidelines

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

The overview of other marked tutorials is the index of the editorial standards of the People’s Republic of China. It is recommended to read other articles while reading this article.

This article is outdated in a lot of content, it is recommended that you follow the Chinese version


It is simply illegal to map in China or to draw maps of China. To stay out of trouble, we at the OSM China community advice you:


Just try not to get noticed; if you get noticed, don't get caught.[1] Armchair mapping is probably fine, as long as you remain anonymous.


  • 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:lang=* field.[2]
  • Name in English name:en=* should follow official naming. For other currently widely-used transliteration, use separate tag int_name=*.[3]
  • The name tag should use the name convention used by locals in daily life. Full names can be added under secondary tags. For example:
    • “积石山 ‛保安族东乡族撒拉族自治’ 县”
    • 安洛苗族彝族满族乡 > name=安洛乡+name:en=Anluo+name:zh=安洛乡+official_name=安洛苗族彝族满族乡+official_name:en=Anluo Miao, Yi and Manchu Ethnic Township.


Main article: China/Boundaries

(Only have Chinese document)



  • This table provides editors a recommended tagging guide. For those special circumstances which may not be included, please refer to 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 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, whose name includes 'Expressway'.
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)
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. (addref=*)
  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. Small roads in towns and villages that are not really suitable cars due to width or curvature, but cars are permitted. (add service=parking alley)
  4. 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. Found at exits, junctions and some service areas. Add oneway=yes or oneway=no
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

Hwy exit Kunshan.png 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.

Tonghai County - fields south of Qilu Lake - P1360433.JPG

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
柳林县柳林南山公园 - Mapillary (WRrBXRT1Z4IfBZsww9WDcA).jpg
highway cycleway way Designated paths mainly for cyclists.
highway path way Trails not applicable for footway/bridleway/cycleway


Key Value Element Possible Circumstance Comment
railway rail way
  1. Full sized passenger or freight train tracks in the standard gauge (in China: 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)
If known:
railway subway way Mass, usually 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

Use 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

Natural environment


China has a large number of reservoirs, formed by man-made dams. Use natural=water with water=reservoir.


  1. The US military has a funny concept called "survivability onion" that basically says this. Maybe don't bring it into any China discussion.
  2. Names#Localization
  3. Names#Avoid transliteration