|Used for reference numbers or codes. Common for roads, highway exits, routes, entrances to big buildings etc.|
|Used on these elements|
|Status: de facto|
|Tools for this tag|
"ref" stands for "reference" and is used for reference numbers or codes. Common for roads, highway exits, routes, entrances to big buildings etc. It is also used for shops and amenities that are numbered officially as part of a retail brand or network respectively.
This key and variations are frequently used to avoid the use of relations.
- int_ref=* - international reference numbers or codes
- nat_ref=* - national reference numbers or codes
- reg_ref=* - regional reference numbers or codes
- loc_ref=* - local reference numbers or codes
- old_ref=* - old or former reference numbers or codes (usually replaced with another)
- unsigned_ref=* - reference number or code that is generally not signed on the route
- highway_authority_ref=* - reference number or code that is generally only used for road administration
- prow_ref=* - Public right of way reference (England and Wales only)
- alt_ref=* - alternative reference number or codes
This is used to add reference information for an element.
This table is a wiki template with a default description in English. Editable here.
For cycle routes:
- ncn_ref=* - national cycle network reference
- rcn_ref=* - regional cycle network reference
- lcn_ref=* - local cycle network reference
There is wide use of ref:* as a namespace prefix, and since 2011 the use of a country code ref:FR:*, etc. where keys are clearly country-specific (see France/Liste des références nationales). A selection of frequently used variations are :
|Key||Used on||Country||Description||Tag usage||See also|
|ref:bag=*||Netherlands||ID of Dutch buildings||BAGimport|
|ref:bic=*||heritage=*||Spain||Identifiers for (Spain) Bien de Interés Cultural (BIC)||Bienes culturales protegidos by the Spanish Government.|
|ref:BLfD=*||heritage=*||Germany||Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege (Germany, Bavaria)|
|ref:GB:cadw=*||heritage:operator=Cadw||United Kingdom||The ID in Cadw's database of scheduled monuments and listed buildings in Wales, United Kingdom|
||United Kingdom||Deprecated please use ref:GB:cadw : The ID in Cadw's database of scheduled monuments and listed buildings in Wales, United Kingdom|
|ref:GB:nhle=*||heritage:operator=Historic England||United Kingdom||The ID in the National Heritage List for England as maintained by Historic England for England, United Kingdom||HE_ref=*|
|ref:GB:hs=*||heritage:operator=Historic Environment Scotland||United Kingdom||The ID in the Historic Environment Scotland database of scheduled monuments and listed buildings in Scotland, United Kingdom|
|ref:GB:niea=*||heritage:operator=Northern Ireland Environment Agency||United Kingdom||The ID in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency database of scheduled monuments and listed buildings in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom|
|ref:GB:decc=*||man_made=petroleum_well||United Kingdom||The ID in the Department of Energy and Climate Change database of oil wells in the United Kingdom.||DECC Import|
|London, United Kingdom||The ID in Transport for London's Cycling Infrastructure Database (TfLCID).||TfL Cycling Infrastructure Database|
|ref:csioz=*||amenity=pharmacy||Poland||An identification number assigned to each pharmacy in Poland that can dispense prescription drugs. (Poland)|
|ref:ctb=*||highway=bus_stop||Hong Kong||Signposted on Citybus bus stops (Hong Kong)|
|ref:De_Lijn=*||bus_stop/platform node, route, route_master||Belgium||Signposted on bus/tram stops in and around Flanders, Belgium||WikiProject_Belgium/De_Lijndata|
|ref:dhis2=*||boundary=health relation and health infrastructures||DHIS2 unique ID, used in +60 countries||Congo-Kinshasa/Zones_de_santé/Workflow|
|ref:doc=*||tourism=wilderness_hut||New Zealand||Shelters/Huts from the Department of Conservation (New Zealand)||Department of Conservation|
|ref:dove=*||amenity=place_of_worship||Mostly UK||Dove’s Guide for Church Bell Ringers|
|Identifier for a beach in Europe monitored for swimming/bathing water quality by the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet).||Eionet bathingWaterIdentifier (P9616)|
|ref:EU:EVSE=*||amenity=charging_station||Europe||European unique codification of electric vehicles charging stations and devices|
|ref:fgkz=*‡||Relation:waterway||Germany||FGKZ reference ID (Germany)|
|ref:GB:uprn=*||building=house, building=commercial, etc.||United Kingdom||Unique Property Reference Number (Great Britain)|
|ref:GB:usrn=*||roads||United Kingdom||Unique Street Reference Number (Great Britain)|
|ref:gnbc=*‡||Relation:waterway, Relation:boundary, place=*, others||Canada||GNBC reference ID (Canada)||About the Canadian Geographical Names Database|
|ref:harbour=*||landuse=industrial||Number of company in harbour on road signage, used e.g. in the Nederlands|
|ref:IFOPT=*||highway=bus_stop, public_transport=platform node||International identifier for bus stops and platforms|
|ref:industrial=*||landuse=industrial||Number of company in industrial area on road signage, used e.g. in the Nederlands|
|ref:INSEE=*||admin_level=*||France||INSEE code of the French communes|
|ref:isil=*||amenity=library||International Standard Identifier for Libraries|
|ref:IUCN=*||boundary=protected_area||International Union for the Conservation of Nature protected area category|
|ref:kmb=*||highway=bus_stop||Hong Kong||Signposted on KMB & LW bus stops (Hong Kong)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Identifiers for the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (KONS) (state level);||aplikacija.kons.gov.ba searchable register of heritage records and documentation;
old.kons - old website is turned into online archive for indexes, records and documentation
|ref:linz:address_id=*||addr:street=*||New Zealand||New Zealand street addresses||LINZ|
|ref:linz:building_id=*||building=yes||New Zealand||Imported buildings in New Zealand||LINZ|
|ref:linz:pastoral_lease_id=*||landuse=meadow||New Zealand||in New Zealand||LINZ|
|ref:linz:place_id=*||*||New Zealand||Named features in New Zealand/Antarctica/Polynesia||LINZ|
|ref:linz:road_id=*||highway=*||New Zealand||Roads in New Zealand (ref tag not maintained)||LINZ|
|ref:linz:topo50_id=*||*||New Zealand||Many different imported features in New Zealand/Antarctica/Polynesia||LINZ|
|ref:linz:hydrographic_id=*||seamark:type=*||New Zealand||Hydrographic/maritime features in New Zealand/Antarctica/Polynesia||LINZ|
|ref:LV:addr=*||addr=*||Latvia||ID (classifier code) of an address in the State Address Register of the State Land Service of LatviaF|
|ref:mhs=*||heritage=*||France||ID in the French database Mérimée of historic monuments|
|ref:MMM=*||highway=* or emergency=defibrillator or attraction=animal||France||Object ID used by Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, a french local authority||Montpellier#Utilisation_du_tag_ref:MMM|
|ref:natura2000=*||boundary=protected_area||European Union||Identifier for protected areas within the Natura 2000 network||protect_class=97|
|ref:NBd=*||junction=yes or traffic_sign=*||Netherlands||Reference number of the Dutch Nationale Bewegwijzeringsdienst (NBd)|
|ref:nid=*||heritage=*||Poland||ID in Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa historic monuments|
|United States||Identifiers for (United States) National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) records||NRHP advanced search|
|ref:rce=*||heritage=*||Netherlands||ID in Dutch Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed|
|ref:regine=*‡||Relation:waterway||Norway||REGINE reference ID (Norway)|
|heritage=*||Serbia||Immovable cultural property of Serbia||Key:heritage#Serbia|
|boundary=administrative admin_level=*||Serbia||Official designations for administrative regions in Serbia||https://openstreetmap.rs/kartografisanje-administrativnih-granica-na-mapi-srbije/|
|ref:RS:ulica=*||highway=*||Serbia||Official designations for streets in Serbia|
|ref:RS:kucni_broj=*||addr:housenumber=*||Serbia||Official designations for house numbers in Serbia|
|building=*, addr=*||Czech||RUIAN building or address reference ID (Czech republic)|
|ref:sandre=*||river||France||Reference of the French Sandre agency||WikiProject France/Cours d'eau|
|ref:svhl=*||Germany||Station-keys of Lübecker Stadtverkehr (Germany)||Lübeck/Importe|
|ref:whc=*||heritage=*||Unesco World Heritage ID|
platform node, route, route_master
|Belgium||Signposted on bus stops in and around Brabant-Wallon, Wallonia, Belgium||TEC data import|
platform node, route, route_master
|Belgium||Signposted on bus stops in and around Charleroi, Wallonia, Belgium||TEC data import|
platform node, route, route_master
|Belgium||Signposted on bus stops in and around Hainaut, Wallonia, Belgium||TEC data import|
platform node, route, route_master
|Belgium||Signposted on bus stops in and around Liège-Verviers, Wallonia, Belgium||TEC data import|
platform node, route, route_master
|Belgium||Signposted on bus stops in and around Namur, Wallonia, Belgium||TEC data import|
platform node, route, route_master
|Belgium||Signposted on bus stops in and around Luxembourg (province), Wallonia, Belgium||TEC data import|
|Belgium||Reference Key of Urbis Database for addresses in Brussels||Brussels#CIRB UrbIS|
|ref:usrn=*||United Kingdom||Unique Street Reference Number - a primary key use by the National Address Gazeteer in the UK||National Address Gazeteer|
|ref:VHAG=*||waterway=*||Belgium||Reference code number of waterways in Flanders, Belgium||Vlaamse Hydrografische Atlas|
|International reference ID for a historical marker registered in the Historical Markers Database (HMdb)||HMdb.org|
|ref:US-MA:mhc=*||United States||The MHC ID for a historic property or area from the Massachusetts Historical Commission||Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) by the Massachusetts Historical Commission|
|United States||A reference ID for a memorial plaque registered in the Texas Historical Commission Database. This network is limited to the state of Texas, United States.||THC database (aka Atlas)|
|United States||A reference ID for a memorial plaque registered in the Tennessee Historical Commission Database. This network is limited to the state of Tennessee, United States.||The Tennessee Historical Commission has erected over 2,000 markers|
|ref:UY:ruee=*||amenity=school or amenity=kindergarten||Uruguay||A unique identifier for educational establishments in Uruguay (RUEE, in spanish, Registro Único de Establecimientos Educativos)|
|ref:pmmcr=*||*||Brazil||Identifiers used by Municipio de Marechal Cândido Rondon, a local government from Parana - Brazil.|
|Russia||Reference for Russian Christian churches in temples.ru catalog.||http://temples.ru/ website|
|Austria||Identifier for austrian national monuments as designated by the Bundesdenkmalamt||heritage#Austria|
|Reference number of protected areas / national parks||identifier in World Database on Protected Areas https://www.protectedplanet.net/|
‡ These keys are specifically encouraged for use by JOSM Waterway relation presets. Depending on the scope of the reference system, they may have uses in other key/tag schemas as well.
User defined values
Any valid syntax value
Examples on relations
- Administrative boundary relation for the U.S. state of California: ref=CA ( )
- Interstate 35W in the United States, conventionally abbreviated I-35W: network=US:I ref=35W on the relation, ref=I 35W on the member ways
- Japan National Route 282, conventionally abbreviated 国道282号: network=JP:national ref=282 on the relation, ref=282 on the member ways
Similarly, on cycle and walking routes, the ref is a bare number and cycle_network=* indicates the route network:
Bus routes use ref to label the bus route. For example:
- Bus route 23: ref=23 (type=route, route=bus, name=Shanklin>Newchurch>Newport - currently )
Examples on ways
- ref=A 1 Default reference (German and French references with a space; e.g. A 1)
- int_ref=E 15 Internationally referenced as
- nat_ref=A 1 Nationally referenced as (German and French references with a space; e.g., A 1)
- reg_ref=A 1 Regionally referenced as (German and French references with a space; e.g., A 1)
- ncn_ref=54 The number reference for a National Cycle Network. See Cycle routes
- ref=A 3;A 7 Default for more than one reference (German and French references with a space; e.g., A 1)
- alt_ref=* In South Africa certain roads share a primary and secondary reference numbers. The primary reference number is attributed in ref=* and the alt_ref=* is used for the continuation of the secondary reference number.
There are no global standards as to whether refs should include spaces, hyphens or other characters. At least when nationally consistent, tag what's on the ground. Some countries use spaces on the signs, others don't. In some countries the usage on the signs varies and guidelines are under discussion. Special cases:
- In the United States, some of the most popular ref formats do not correspond to what's on the ground, due to historical technical reasons. For example, Interstate highways are tagged e.g. ref=I 75 instead of ref=I-75, and some states use postal abbreviations instead of more ambiguous, human-readable prefixes such as "SR". However, this Sophox query demonstrates how a data consumer can automatically generate human-readable refs using the network=* tag on route relations.
- In e.g. the Netherlands there is a visual space on signs for readability, yet overwhelming usage in writing in both official and unofficial documents/websites/newspapers etc. is without spaces, hence the tagging is also without spaces.
It may seem redundant to tag route refs on both ways and relations, but do not remove a ref=* tag from a way just because the way is a member of corresponding route relations:
- Mainstream renderers and routers are still unable to infer refs from parent relations, so the way refs are needed for backwards compatibility.
- In some localities, one cannot predict the order that concurrent routes are listed on a sign based on the route relations alone. A regional route may be listed before a national route if the national route only briefly joins the road before diverging. In these cases, ref=* on the way is the only way to indicate the signposted order along that way, since a way does not indicate an intrinsic order to the routes of which it is a member.
- It is possible that not all ways with the ref are also part of the route for the ref. For example, it is possible that side roads and link roads are not a logical part of the road route, yet they may still belong to the same road reference (sometimes with a distinct carriageway_ref=*).
- The ref-value on the route may sometimes differ from the ref-value on the way. The ref-value on the way might need to be more verbose because it lacks the context of other tags on the route relation, such as network=*.
Unsigned reference numbers (e.g. New York State Reference Route Numbers) that are neither readily visible on the ground nor well-known by the public, should be placed in unsigned_ref=* rather than ref=*. If the numbering system is specifically intended for internal use by the highway authority only, highway_authority_ref=* may be used.
Examples on nodes
- ref=23 US Highway exits are often just a number
- ref=23B Sometimes exits have been split into A and B exits.
These refs can also be tagged on the adjoining highway=motorway_link way (or highway=trunk_link, highway=secondary_link, etc.) using junction:ref=*. In general, renderers understand ref=* on nodes, while routers understand junction:ref=* on ways.
ref is sometimes used on bus stops:
ref is sometimes used to label an entrance into a large building or parking area. (If the label is used in addresses, consider using addr:unit=* instead.) For example a shopping mall may have entrances A - L:
- ref=* - Used to mark official company store number assigned to a place. Example (ref=7872) CVS (You'll see a reference tag added to the building)
- ref:svhl=* - station-keys of Lübecker Stadtverkehr (Germany) - details look at Lübeck/Importe
- ref:luebeck=* - internal reference for objects in the area of Lübeck
- ref:bufa=* - 4-digit key of the local German tax and revenue offices (Bundesfinanzamtnummer)
- ref:vatin=CC12345678 - VAT identification number of companies, use CountryCode (e.g. IT for Italy) and the number
- official_ref=* - Used in cases where the official administrative reference for a road (or other feature) is not identical with the road signs (or other feature ref), e.g. because they are old, or because the administration doesn't have the money to install/update the signage.
- ref:penndot=* - Used for internal state route designations of the Location Referencing System in Pennsylvania.
- The approval of the boundary=forest_compartment clarified the meaning of the ref key when applied to forest compartments: in such cases, ref's value must be the one displayed on the ground and the unique ref of the compartment within the encompassing delimited forest, not a ref which is valid in, or applies to, a broader area. See boundary=forest_compartment for more details.
Taking a page from Wikipedia, "in information science, authority control is a process that organizes information, for example in library catalogs, by using a single, distinct spelling of a name (heading) or a numeric identifier for each topic".. In OpenStreetMap, authority control is currently implemented by specifying the ID for map elements from a reference catalog as values for tags, using keys such as:
- ref=*: Generic ID of an unspecified catalog to be inferred by the map user based on the element type and circumstances
- *_ref=* and ref:*=* (like the keys listed above): ID to a specific catalog
- wikidata=*: Wikidata
- wikipedia=*: Wikipedia
- ISO3166-1=* and ISO3166-1:*=*: ISO country codes
- ISO3166-2=*: ISO province/state/region codes
- other domain-specific tags
- For highways shared by more than one route see Relations/Routes or Faq#What shall I do for roads that have multiple values for a tag?. Relations seem to be the preferred method for tagging this.
- If more than one reference is given, you are recommended to separate them with a semicolon and without a space character, because this is the widely established syntax in Germany and maybe other countries. But note, this syntax is being heavily discussed in Germany. A better approach might be to have a namespace and add the entity that has issued the ref; e.g. ref:foo=x ref:bar=y.
- Do not confuse this issue with the space that is present in some countries between the letter and the number in a reference itself.
- When a road has no number, leave this key unused; this makes sure that routing programs do not try to describe the road by a number.
Possible tagging mistakes
- route_ref=* - route reference (number/code) cognizable on public transport stop signs
- local_ref=* - local reference/local platform
- junction:ref=* – motorway exit number
- ref:FR:*=*: WikiProject France/Liste des références nationales
- ref:US:EPA=*: United States EPA facilities registration codes
- For United States road tagging
- addr:unit=* – used in cases where the label of a building entrance is used in addresses
- noref=yes - When there really isn't a reference, though one expects there to be one. Talk:Key:ref#Tag for no reference number
- Does not include uses in semi-colon value separated lists
- JOSM default presets
- A route number can be alphanumeric. However, a route relation's ref=* should only include the characters that are an inseparable part of the route number. As a rule of thumb, consider whether a prefix appears together with the rest of the number on a route shield, or whether the prefix occurs in writing even when the route's name is fully spelled out.
- wikipedia:en:Authority control