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Celebrity Summit-DSC 0134w
Seaway for sea transport related features like ports
Proposal status: Proposed (under way)
Proposed by: dieterdreist
Tagging: seaway=*
Applies to:
Definition: a key for features related to the navigation at sea

Draft started: 2017-02-21
RFC start: 2021-03-05


This is a proposal to introduce a new key with a sea transport related scope. In this first iteration the proposal deals mostly with ports, which are the backbone of transport on the oceans. Feel free to add your own ideas on the discussion page. You are invited to use these tags if you find them helpful.


Currently there is an appearent lack of tagging structure in this field. Features can be found in keys like seamark=* or implicitly by looking at landuse (industrial=*, a landuse subtag), but, with few structure and some gaps in the scheme, we currently miss a lot of interesting information and details about the infrastructure for navigating the seas (e.g. compare global tag usage numbers of airports to those of seaports).
This could have also been something in an established key like man_made=* or amenity=*, but if you look at the whole OSM tagging scheme, you can see that all similar (transportation infrastructure related) features have their own key: highway=*, railway=*, aeroway=*, aerialway=*, waterway=* and it seems logical to introduce the missing link for sea based transport.



Ports are very important for sea based transport. To map a port, use the key seaway=* with one of these values port, cargo_port, cruise_port, ferry_port, fishing_port (see below for more information) and add other relevant tags like:

  • name=* for the name of the facility
  • ref=* for numbers and letters used as identifiers

If you are not sure which case applies or for combined ports, use seaway=port for the combined port/as a generic port and use different objects to tag the specific parts. Add subkeys according to the kind of facility you are dealing with (see below).


Within port areas, you often find terminals. In any port there can be many terminals, e.g. container terminals for the handling of cargo, ferry terminals to embark and get off a ferry.

Passenger ports

tag description foto
seaway=ferry_port for ferry ports. In every port you can have several amenity=ferry_terminal
Isewan ferry (Port of Irago).JPG
seaway=cruise_port for cruise ports and terminals.
Valletta Cruise Port, Malta.jpg

Useful subkeys

For combined ports use the most important function for the main tag (seaway=*_port) and add the subkeys for further detail.

  • cruise_port=yes/home_port/terminal/port_of_call use home_port in all combined cases where it is a home port for at least one ship, and similarly terminal if it is not a home port but a terminal.
    • home_port means it is the home port of at least one cruise route
    • terminal means it is a route endpoint of a cruise router but not a home port
    • port_of_call means it is a port where cruise ships take intermediate stops.
Subkeys for routes

If routes are mapped, you could use these roles for the ports in the route:

  • Role terminus
  • Role home_port
  • Role stop
  • Role port_of_call

Cargo ports

Use seaway=cargo_port for all kind of cargo ports.

Properties to describe cargo handling capabilities

These capability tags can be added to entire ports or specific parts of ports where this kind of cargo is dealt with.

tag description foto
cargo:container=yes/no port can handle standard cargo containers
Feeder ship Norderoog - Port of Hamburg, Container Terminal Tollerort.jpg
cargo:bulk=yes/no port is able to handle bulk cargo, i.e. stuff that isn't packaged, typically granular)
The MV "BLUE BAY" unloading bulk cargo in the Port of Teignmouth on 17th August 2012.jpg
cargo:liquids=yes/no port for the handling of liquid cargo
United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve 011.jpg
cargo:gas=yes/no port for the handling of gaseous cargo
LNG Tanker ARCTIC PRINCESS vor Hammerfest (N) - Juni 2015.jpg
cargo:break_bulk=yes/no port is handling break bulk cargo, stuff that has to be handled individually, e.g. cars, bags, boxes, barrels, crates, drums
Cargo Handling Port of Cotonou Benin.jpg
cargo:heavy-lift=yes/no port can handle heavy-lift cargo, e.g. plant components
LONE 6424.jpg

See also

Fishing ports

tag description foto
seaway=fishing_port for a fishing port by the sea.
'Rameswaram fishing port'.JPG

Use historic=fishing_port for historic fishing ports that are not used any more.

Inland ports

Use inland_port=yes/no together with a seaway=* port type (see above) for inland port facilities that handle ocean-going vessels.
Use waterway=port for inland ports like river ports and ports at lakes for river traffic, such as barges and other shallow-draft vessels

External discussions

On the tagging ML: [1]

See also

Discussion mentions


Please comment on the discussion page.