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Public-images-osm logo.svg highway
The highway tag is the primary tag used for any kind of street or way.
Group: Highways
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasuse on relations unspecified
Documented values: 358
Useful combination
Status: Approved

Main article: Highways


Main article: Highways

The highway tag is the main tag used for identifying any kind of road, street or path. The highway type helps indicate the importance of the highway within the road network as a whole:

  • highway=motorway fast, restricted access road
  • highway=trunk most important in standard road network
  • highway=primary …down to…
  • highway=secondary
  • highway=tertiary
  • highway=unclassified least important in standard road network
  • highway=residential smaller road for access mostly to residential properties
  • highway=service smaller road for access, often but not exclusively to non-residential properties

See Highway:International equivalence for how different countries apply these tags to their own road networks.

There are also values for paths and for special types of road.


See highway examples


See below for details of commonly used tag values:

Key Value Element Comment Rendering Photo


These are the principal tags for the road network. They range from the most to least important.

highway motorway Way A restricted access major divided highway, normally with 2 or more running lanes plus emergency hard shoulder. Equivalent to the Freeway, Autobahn, etc..
Rendering-highway motorway neutral.png
highway trunk Way The most important roads in a country's system that aren't motorways. (Need not necessarily be a divided highway.)
Rendering-highway trunk L3005 MF.png
Dscf0444 600.jpg
highway primary Way The next most important roads in a country's system. (Often link larger towns.)
Rendering-highway primary neutral.png
highway secondary Way The next most important roads in a country's system. (Often link towns.)
Rendering-highway secondary neutral.png
highway tertiary Way The next most important roads in a country's system. (Often link smaller towns and villages)
Rendering-highway tertiary neutral.png
OHZ-K28-Bergedorfer Str.jpg
highway unclassified Way The least most important through roads in a country's system – i.e. minor roads of a lower classification than tertiary, but which serve a purpose other than access to properties. Often link villages and hamletes. (The word 'unclassified' is a historical artefact of the UK road system and does not mean that the classification is unknown; you can use highway=road for that.)
Rendering-highway unclassified.png
Highway unclassified-photo.jpg
highway residential Way Roads which serve as an access to housing, without function of connecting settlements. Often lined with housing.
Rendering-highway residential.png
highway service Way Area For access roads to, or within an industrial estate, camp site, business park, car park etc. Can be used in conjunction with service=* to indicate the type of usage and with access=* to indicate who can use it and in what circumstances.
Rendering-highway service.png

Link roads

highway motorway_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a motorway from/to a motorway or lower class highway. Normally with the same motorway restrictions.
Rendering-highway motorway link.png
Dscf0242 600.jpg
highway trunk_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a trunk road from/to a trunk road or lower class highway.
Rendering-highway trunk link.png
Trunk link.jpg
highway primary_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a primary road from/to a primary road or lower class highway.
Rendering-highway primary link.png
highway secondary_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a secondary road from/to a secondary road or lower class highway. same rendering as highway=secondary in mapnik
highway tertiary_link Way The link roads (sliproads/ramps) leading to/from a tertiary road from/to a tertiary road or lower class highway. same rendering as highway=tertiary in mapnik

Special road types

highway living_street Way For living streets, which are residential streets where pedestrians have legal priority over cars, speeds are kept very low and where children are allowed to play on the street.
Living street osm.png
beginning of a living street with a paving stones surface and some trees and cars parking at the sides
highway pedestrian Way Area For roads used mainly/exclusively for pedestrians in shopping and some residential areas which may allow access by motorised vehicles only for very limited periods of the day. To create a 'square' or 'plaza' create a closed way and tag as pedestrian and also with area=yes.
Pedestrian with area osm.png
a wide pedestrian street with many pedestrians on it lined by shops
highway track Way Roads for mostly agricultural or forestry uses. To describe the quality of a track, see tracktype=*. Note: Although tracks are often rough with unpaved surfaces, this tag is not describing the quality of a road but its use. Consequently, if you want to tag a general use road, use one of the general highway values instead of track.
Rendering-highway track.png
an unpaved track running through a field in rural landscape
highway bus_guideway Way A busway where the vehicle guided by the way (though not a railway) and is not suitable for other traffic. Please note: this is not a normal bus lane, use access=no, psv=yes instead!
Rendering-highway-bus guideway-mapnik.png
Bus track.jpg
highway raceway Way A course or track for (motor) racing
highway road Way A road where the mapper is unable to ascertain the classification from the information available. This is intended as a temporary tag to mark a road until it has been properly surveyed. Once it has been surveyed, the classification should be updated to the appropriate value.


highway footway Way For designated footpaths; i.e., mainly/exclusively for pedestrians. This includes walking tracks and gravel paths. If bicycles are allowed as well, you can indicate this by adding a bicycle=yes tag. Should not be used for paths where the primary or intended usage is unknown. Use highway=pedestrian for pedestrianised roads in shopping or residential areas and highway=track if it is usable by agricultural or similar vehicles.
Rendering-highway footway.png
Dscf0487 600.jpg
highway bridleway Way For horses. Equivalent to highway=path + horse=designated.
Rendering-highway bridleway.png
highway steps Way For flights of steps (stairs) on footways. Use with step_count=* to indicate the number of steps
Rendering-highway steps.png
highway path Way A non-specific path. Use highway=footway for paths mainly for walkers, highway=cycleway for one also usable by cyclists, highway=bridleway for ones available to horses as well as walkers and highway=track for ones which is passable by agriculture or similar vehicles.
Path osm.png

When sidewalk (or pavement) is tagged on the main roadway (see Sidewalks)

sidewalk both / left / right / no Way Specifies that the highways has sidewalks on both sides, on one side or no sidewalk at all
Sidewalk and zebra-crossing.jpg

When cycleway is drawn as its own way (see Bicycle)

highway cycleway Way For designated cycleways. Add foot=* only if default-access-restrictions do not apply.
Cycleway osm.png
Separated cycleway with traffic sign

Cycleway tagged on the main roadway or lane (see Bicycle)

cycleway lane Way A lane is a route that lies within the roadway
Cycle trackinroad.jpg
cycleway opposite Way Used on ways with oneway=yes where it is legally permitted to cycle in both directions. Used together with oneway:bicycle=no.
Sul bxl 01.JPG
cycleway opposite_lane Way Used on ways with oneway=yes that have a cycling lane going the opposite direction of normal traffic flow (a "contraflow" lane). Used together with oneway:bicycle=no.
Fr-C24a ex3-Conditions particulieres par voie-velo.gif
cycleway track Way A track provides a route that is separated from traffic. In the United States, this term is often used to refer to bike lanes that are separated from lanes for cars by pavement buffers, bollards, parking lanes, and curbs. Note that a cycle track may alternatively be drawn as a separate way next to the road which is tagged as highway=cycleway.
Cycle nexttoroad.jpg
cycleway opposite_track Way Used on ways with oneway=yes that have a cycling track going the opposite direction of normal traffic flow
549c Spitzenkiel140923.jpg
cycleway share_busway Way There is a bus lane that cyclists are permitted to use.
cycleway shared_lane Way Cyclists share a lane with motor vehicles, but there are markings indicating that they should share the lane with motorists.
Sharrows Toronto 2011.jpg
busway lane Way Bus lane on both sides of the road.
2010-01-02 15.19.16.jpg


highway proposed Way For planned roads, use with proposed=* and also proposed=* with a value of the proposed highway value.
Planned mapnik.png
highway construction Way For roads under construction. Use construction=* to hold the value for the completed road.
Highway construction 200805041655.png
12Jan05 04.jpg


abutters commercial/ industrial/ mixed/ residential/ retail etc. Way See Key:abutters for more details.
bicycle_road yes Way A bicycle road is a road designated for bicycles. If residential streets get the status of bicycle roads, normally, by special signs, motor traffic is admitted with limited speed, often only for residents.
driving_side left/ right Node Relation Defines which side of the road vehicles must legally use. (must only be used on highways when they are an exception to the rule)
Drive on left in australia.jpg
ford yes Node Way The road crosses through stream or river, vehicles must enter any water.
Map feature ford.jpg
ice_road yes Way A highway is laid upon frozen water basin, definitely doesn't exist in summer.
Pechora crossing.jpg
incline Number %/° Node Way Incline steepness as percents ("5%") or degrees ("20°"). Positive/negative values indicate movement upward/downwards in the direction of the way.
junction roundabout Way Closed way This automatically implies oneway=yes, the oneway direction is defined by the sequential ordering of nodes within the Way. This applies on a way, tagged with highway=* already.
lanes number Way The number of traffic lanes for general purpose traffic, also for buses and other specific classes of vehicle.
NLEx 6 Lanes.jpg
lit yes/no NodeWayArea Street lighting
Berlin speer-leuchte.jpg
motorroad yes / no Way Node The motorroad tag is used to describe highways that have motorway-like access restrictions but that are not a motorway.
120px-Zeichen 331.svg.png
mountain_pass yes Node The highest point of a mountain pass.
Mountain pass.jpg
mtb:scale 0-6 Way Applies to highway=path and highway=track. A classification scheme for mtb trails (few inclination and downhill).
mtb:scale:uphill 0-5 Way A classification scheme for mtb trails for going uphill if there is significant inclination.
mtb:scale:imba 0-4 Way The IMBA Trail Difficulty Rating System shall be used for bikeparks. It is adapted to mtb trails with artificial obstacles.
mtb:description Text Way Applies to highway=path and highway=track. A key to input variable infos related to mtbiking on a way with human words
overtaking yes/ no/ both/ forward/ backward Way Specifying sections of roads where overtaking is legally forbidden.
parking:condition free/ ticket/ disc/ residents/ customers/ private Way Specifying the parking conditions (terms). See parking:condition=* for more details.
parking:lane parallel/ diagonal/ perpendicular/ marked/ no_parking/ no_stopping/ fire_lane. Way Specifying the parking space. See parking:lane=* for more details.
passing_places yes Way A way which has frequent passing places
sac_scale hiking / mountain_hiking / demanding_mountain_hiking / alpine_hiking / demanding_alpine_hiking / difficult_alpine_hiking Way Applies to highway=path and highway=footway. A classification scheme for hiking trails.
Mountain hiking.jpg
service alley/ driveway/ parking_aisle etc. Way See Key:service for more details.
Seattle - alley north from S Jackson between Western & 1st - A.jpg
surface paved / unpaved / asphalt / concrete / paving_stones / cobblestone / metal / wood / grass_paver / gravel / pebblestone / grass / ground / earth / dirt / mud / sand Way See Key:surface for more details.
tactile_paving yes / no Node Way Area A paving in the ground to be followed with a blindman's stick. Not to be rendered on standard maps.
Tactile paving.jpg
tracktype grade1/ grade2/ grade3/ grade4/ grade5 Way To describe the quality of the surface. See Key:tracktype for more information.
Surface grade1.jpg
traffic_calming yes/ bump/ hump/ cushion/ table etc. Node Way See Key:traffic calming for more details.
trail_visibility excellent / good / intermediate / bad / horrible / no Way Applies to highway=path, highway=footway, highway=cycleway and highway=bridleway. A classification for hiking trails visibility
winter_road yes Way A highway functions during winter, probably can't be driven in summer.
Anuisk bilibino sever66.jpg

Other highway features

highway bus_stop Node A small bus stop. Can be mapped more rigorously using public_transport=stop_position for the position where the vehicle stops and public_transport=platform for the place where passengers wait. See public_transport=* for more details.
Bus stop.12.svg
Bus prumyslova.jpg
highway crossing Node Pedestrians can cross a street here; e.g., zebra crossing
Zebra-crossing sm.jpg
highway elevator Node Elevator
240 Sparks Elevators.jpg
highway emergency_access_point Node Sign number which can be used to define your current position in case of an emergency. Use with ref=NUMBER_ON_THE_SIGN
Anfahrpunkt HP 108.jpg
highway escape Way Emergency lane beside long descending slopes for trucks and other vehicles to stop safely after brake failure. In the USA this is called a "runaway truck" lane or ramp.
highway give_way Node A "give way," or "Yield" sign
Give way.jpg
emergency phone Node A calling device can be used to tell on your current position in case of an emergency. Use with ref=NUMBER_ON_THE_SIGN
Borne SOS.jpg
highway mini_roundabout Node Similar to roundabouts, but at the center there is either a painted circle or a fully traversable island. In case of an untraversable center island, junction=roundabout should be used.

Rendered as anti-clockwise by default direction=anticlockwise. To render clockwise add the tag direction=clockwise.

highway motorway_junction Node Indicates a junction (UK) or exit (US). ref=* should be set to the exit number or junction identifier. (Some roads – e.g., the A14 – also carry junction numbers, so the tag may be encountered elsewhere despite its name)
Dscf0242 600.jpg
highway passing_place Node The location of a passing space
highway rest_area Node Area Place where drivers can leave the road to rest, but not refuel.
Wentworth terrain.jpg
highway speed_camera Node A fixed road-side or overhead speed camera.
Speed camera.jpg
highway street_lamp Node A street light, lamppost, street lamp, light standard, or lamp standard is a raised source of light on the edge of a road, which is turned on or lit at a certain time every night
highway services Node Area A service station to get food and eat something, often found at motorways
Mapping Features Motorway service area.jpg
De lucht.jpg
highway stop Node A stop sign
STOP sign.jpg
highway traffic_signals Node Lights that control the traffic
Rendering-traffic singals.jpg
highway turning_circle Node A turning circle is a rounded, widened area usually, but not necessarily, at the end of a road to facilitate easier turning of a vehicle. Also known as a cul de sac.
Turning circle.jpg
highway User Defined Node Way All commonly used values according to Taginfo

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


Only highway=motorway/motorway_link implies anything about quality. Other road types, from highway=trunk through highway=tertiary to highway=residential=residential/service or highway=path/footway/cycleway/track do not imply anything about road quality. In area with poor infrastructure road forming main road network, of the highest importance in region should be tagged highway=trunk - no matter whatever is is high-quality wide asphalt road or narrow low-quality tract worse than highway=service in other regions. Some primary roads in Africa are unpaved.

In absence of surface, tracktype and other tags describing quality of road one may try to extrapolate this information from value of highway tag. Note that this needs tuning for every region. Typical highway=primary may be drastically different in various places across the planet.

It is highly recommended to add and use tags describing road quality like surface. In one region it may be obvious that all highway=tertiary are paved and highway=track unpaved but no assumption like that will work worldwide.

See also