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Public-images-osm logo.svg destination
Zeichen 430-20 - Pfeilwegweiser zur Autobahn, StVO 2013.svg
Destination when following a linear feature Edit or translate this description.
Group: Properties
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasmay be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: de facto

The key destination=* names the objects that are reached, when a linear feature is being followed. The key is used in the road system as well as on waterways.

Destination of roads

In the road system, the key destination=* describes the content of signposts or ground writing indicating the names of the locations that the tagged way is heading to. Thus navigation systems can refer to road signs that the driver actually sees.


Key variation Valid for Description
destination Way Describes the destination of the complete OSM way. Worthwhile only if used in combination with oneway=yes.
destination:forward Direction Describes the destination of all lanes of the OSM way, running in the same direction as the way itself.
destination:backward Direction Describes the destination of all lanes of the OSM way, running in the opposite direction as the way itself.
destination:lanes Lane Describes the destination of each lane of the OSM way. Worthwhile only if used in combination with oneway=yes.
destination:lanes:forward Lane Describes the destination of each lane of the OSM way, running in the same direction as the way itself.
destination:lanes:backward Lane Describes the destination of each lane of the OSM way, running in the opposite direction as the way itself.

Please note that destination=* and destination:lanes=* are two different concepts to support the announcement of signposted destinations, which can be differently evaluated by the navigation software. As they do not conflict, both approaches can co-exist on a particular road.

Destinations per road

If the road is oneway=yes, then:

If the road is bidirectional, then:

To enable the navigation software to announce the destination at a junction, the road leaving the intersection needs to carry the respective destination=* as signposted. Multiple destinations can be tagged as semicolon-separated values.

At least the first section of a road leaving the intersection must be tagged, however the tagging can continue on further segments until some different destination is signposted. This method allows navigation software to show continuously, which destination a driver follows e.g. along a dual carriageway.

forward and backward

Important note: If an entry and an exit road share one OSM way, because they are not built separately, tag the destinations with destination:forward=* and destination:backward=*. If you reverse the direction of the OSM way, pay attention also to swap those destinations-tags, also! JOSM shows a warning message and suggests to exchange destination:forward=* with destination:backward=*. iD swaps the tags automatically upon reversing the way.

Destinations per lane

For details about the :lanes suffix, see

Main article: Lanes.

Often the destinations of a road differ from lane to lane, typically in conjunction with turn:lanes. To specify those for every lane, destination:lanes=* is used on the road segment leading into the intersection. To tag them:

If the road is oneway=yes, then:

  • Use the key destination:lanes=*.
  • Visualize the road in the direction of the OSM way.
  • Add the lane-values to the value, starting with the leftmost lane and ending with the rightmost. Separate each lane-value with a | (vertical bar).

If the road is bidirectional, then:

  • Use destination:lanes:forward=* to describe the lanes in the direction of the OSM way. Visualize the road in the direction of the OSM way.
  • Use destination:lanes:backward=* to describe the lanes in the opposite direction of the OSM way. Visualize the road in the opposite direction of the OSM way.
Automatic Tag Correction in JOSM

Where to use?

Use destination=* together with highway=* on pieces of highway after the position of the signpost or ground writing. For details, see also the examples.

Should I use destination=* keys or a destination_sign relation?

The destination=* implementation works when all inbound ways into a junction point are signposted with the same outbound destinations for the same outbound way. This makes destination=* a popular choice among editors for: motorways and other one-way type highways; on waterway relations (waterways are by definition are one-way, their direction of flow); and for simple intersections.

At intersections where the indicated destination=* depends upon the direction the driver is arriving from (most typical at two way intersections or roundabouts), this implementation cannot provide enough detail to be unambiguous for navigation, because multiple destinations apply for the same outbound way. In these cases, the destination_sign relation must be used to provide the necessary granularity.

To indicate the physical location of the signpost itself, use information=guidepost.

Danger of confusion

Do not mistake with highway=motorway_junction:

  • It’s only used on motorway-exit-nodes.
  • In its key name=* the official name of the exit is told, but in some countries this is on every exit for this junction the same one. So this name may be identical for every exit of this junction and therefore may not give a proper indication of the destination.

Do not mistake with Relation:destination_sign:

  • This relation is designed for any sign showing in any direction (very flexible). In principle it would be possible to use the relation for every destination sign, but it brings all drawbacks for relations with it (in opposite to a simple tag like “destination”).

Do not mistake with designation=*:

  • It is the official legal classification of a road or path and has nothing to do with the information about where a way goes to. Please don’t confuse to the similar writing.

Do not mistake with direction=*.

Software that uses this feature

destination=* tagging

Rendering in MapFactor Navigator Free
Rendering in Osmand

destination=* is used in the following navigation apps:

CheckAutopista [4] is a Quality Assurance tool that can show name=*, exit_to=* or destination=* tags on a selected motorway. It helps detect missing data.

The Mapbox Directions API and OSRM support the destination=* and destination:ref=* tags. The Mapbox Navigation SDK displays these tag values in the step table and turn banner and also reads aloud the tag values.

destination:lanes=* tagging

If you know navigation systems using this tagging style, please add them here


The value of the destination tag should be the contents of the sign, as it would be read from beginning to end. Different destinations on the same sign are separated with semicolons. (See examples below.)

This key is only for values which are explicitly indicated on signposts or ground writings.

Whether abbreviations (as they exactly appear on a sign) should be used in a destination tag is being discussed and is disputed, on this tag's talk page. Numerically speaking, by a ratio of 20:1, the editing consensus on whether to use abbreviations that appear on signs is no, and to use the same standards as given in Exit Info and as specified in the OSM standard Names: ("Don't do it": If the name can be spelled without an abbreviation, then don't abbreviate it").

Further Details

There are various tags to describe further details of destination signs:


Note: There is guidance and numerous United States specific examples of use of the destination tag (where it applies to Exit Signage), at Exit Info .

Signpost No. Link Ctry Tag(s) Where to tag? Occurrence Note
Schild Nr. 430 430 DE destination=Berlin Directly at the highway=motorway_link Signpost at a motorway entry Additionally it is possible to set ref=A 2 on the highway=motorway.
Schild Nr. 448 448 DE destination=Düsseldorf-Benrath At the following highway=motorway_link Signpost at motorway junctions Additionally it is possible to set ref=26 on the highway=motorway_junction.
Schild Nr. 332 332 DE destination=Mainz;Wiesbaden At the following highway=motorway_link Signpost at motorway exits Multiple destinations for the same exit lane are separated with a semicolon.
BAB3 Koelner Ring bild2.jpg DE
At the highway=motorway directly after the signpost Signpost at motorways The destinations for each lane are separated by |
S1 Knoten Eibesbrunn Wegweiser.jpg AT
At the highway=motorway directly after the signpost Signpost at motorways
Canada-bilingual-exit-example.jpg CA destination=New Marylanddestination:street:en=Regent Street South

destination:street:fr=Rue Regent Sud

At the following highway=motorway_link Signpost at motorway exits Usage of destination:street=* in two languages

Source of some images:

See also


Destination of waterways

On a Waterway, the key destination=* is used to describe which body of water the tagged object flows into. It considers the natural flow of water, where a stream flows into a river, the river into a larger river, until eventually the last river reaches the ocean.

The key can be used either on the linear water feature (river, canal, stream) itself or, if it exists, preferably once on the waterway relation.


The Mississippi river relation is tagged destination=Gulf of Mexico.