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Public-images-osm logo.svg gnis:feature_id
United States Board on Geographic Names logo.png
Identifier from the United States Board on Geographic Names Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: references
URL pattern$1%22&ns0=1&ns120=1
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)may be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: de factoPage for proposal

A GNIS feature ID is a permanent, unique identifier for a feature in the Geographic Names Information Service (GNIS) database. GNIS is the U.S. federal government's authoritative gazetteer. It contains an entry for each named place or point of interest recognized by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names within U.S. territory, based on submissions from federal, state, and local government agencies as well as from the general public through The National Map Corps.


GNIS feature IDs are an ANSI national standard and INCITS industry standard. They are used throughout the U.S. federal government, having officially superseded the previous system of FIPS codes in 2008. [1]

Most uses of this tag and its synonyms were introduced as part of imports of U.S. federal government data, especially from GNIS itself. Unlike other imported tags such as gnis:created=* and gnis:import_uuid=*, gnis:feature_id=* is meaningful beyond the import. In fact, some mappers actively add gnis:feature_id=* to features to cite a verifiable source for the POI's existence or its name.

Managing existing tags

When converting a GNIS POI to a landuse or building area, copy the gnis:feature_id=* tag to the new area to preserve the link to external details.

If a local POI has moved, you can use look up the feature ID to find its current coordinates.

Some local POIs may no longer correspond to a real-world facility, because there is no automated process for synchronizing OSM with the GNIS database after the initial import in 2009. Moreover, since October 2014, the USGS no longer actively updates local POIs in GNIS apart from changes submitted through The National Map Corps. If a real-world POI has been demolished, delete the POI from OSM including the gnis:feature_id=* tag.

If a facility has closed or been repurposed but the building still stands, the GNIS feature ID remains valid, so it is acceptable (but less important) to leave the gnis:feature_id=* tag in place. (Some old schools, firehouses, and covered bridges have landed on national or state registers of historic buildings, which you can indicate using heritage=* tags.)

Note that updates to GNIS-imported features in OSM will not automatically be reflected in GNIS, in part because OSM's license is incompatible with the requirement that all U.S. federal government works be released into the public domain. If you want your updates to be reflected in GNIS, you will need to crosspost your changes to The National Map Corps via their online editor. (Only crosspost changes you author yourself; do not indiscriminately copy ODbL-licensed data over to that public domain project.)

Finding a feature ID

Use the official GNIS search tool to find the most up-to-date GNIS entries for the feature classes that the USGS still maintains.

The main public database no longer includes entries from a number of feature classes that have been imported into OSM, such as Post Office and Cemetery. Due to budget cuts, the USGS stopped updating these feature classes and eventually archived them in August 2021. However, a snapshot of the full database from this time remains available for download. Entries in the snapshot are not guaranteed to be up-to-date; however, the feature IDs generally remain valid, and the feature descriptions are a rich source of addresses and other information that hasn't been imported yet.

A vector tile server of the 2021-08-25 snapshot is available (contact User:jleedev). The TileJSON URL and Tile URL are listed at and is readily usable in iD.

The archived feature classes along with citations are also available online from GNIS-LD, the official linked data distribution of GNIS. [2]

Alternatively, you can search for parks in Wikidata. Most GNIS populated place and park features are included in Wikidata and tagged with a P590 (GNIS ID) statement. You can search for these items by feature ID, for example haswbstatement:P590=243553. You can also indicate the Wikidata identifier itself using the wikidata=* key.


Previously there were 6 tags containing GNIS ID information (gnis:feature_id, gnis:id, tiger:PLACENS, NHD:GNIS_ID, nhd:gnis_id, ref:gnis). As of September 2023, these have been consolidated to the de facto key.

See also

External links