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The Federal Information Processing Standards (abbreviated FIPS) are standards published by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) for use by United States federal government agencies.

NIST previously published a series of FIPS standards specifying unique alphabetic or numeric codes for administrative units. These codes are ubiquitous in geographic datasets obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Geological Survey, including TIGER and GNIS, as well as from state agencies. As a result, FIPS codes are very frequently tagged on many kinds of features in the U.S. In 2008, NIST withdrew the geographic codes in favor of similar standards published by the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), which follow the same format as the former FIPS codes.


Tags with these codes appear on many US states, counties, and places in OpenStreetMap. Unfortunately, the tagging can be messy.

Summary of FIPS code tagging in OpenStreetMap
Name Scope Common keys Notes
 FIPS 10-4 Countries and regions

(example: Canada is "CA")

Superseded by GENC, a U.S. federal government profile of ISO 3166-1 and ISO 3166-2; see Country code.

Wikidata: Property:P901

 FIPS 5-2 US states

(example: California's numeric code is "06")

Now maintained by ANSI as INCITS 38 – 2009

Wikidata: Property:P883

 FIPS 6-4 US counties

(example: Fresno County in California is "019", or prefixed with the state code "06019")

Now maintained by ANSI as INCITS 31 – 2009

Wikidata: Property:P882

 FIPS 55-3 US places

(example: Fresno city in California is "27000", or prefixed with the state code "0627000")

Now maintained by the Census Bureau as "FIPS codes" for legacy purposes but otherwise superseded by GNIS Feature IDs maintained by the USGS per INCITS 446 – 2008

Wikidata: Property:P774

County and place codes are unique only within their state.[1] More than one county in the US has a FIPS code of "001". County and place codes are often combined with their state FIPS code to form a unique code. This complicates OSM semantics a little: sometimes a FIPS tag means "this OSM object is equivalent to this FIPS code" (like ref=*), other times it means "this OSM object is within this FIPS code" (like is_in=*).

Example: On relation Fresno County, nist:fips_code=6019 means "this is California's Fresno County" while nist:state_fips=6 means "this is in California".

Additional tagging notes:

  • nist:fips_code sometimes refers to states ("045"), sometimes counties ("22075")
  • nist: prefix may be considered outdated because NIST is no longer the source for these codes
  • tiger:PLACEFP is just the 5-digit place code ("74352"); tiger:PLCIDFP is the state+place code ("0174352")
  • tiger:CLASSFP (26k uses) refers to a FIPS 55 class code

See also


  1. Geographic Terms and Concepts - Codes for Geographic Entities. See under "Federal Information Processing Series (FIPS)".

External links