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Public-images-osm logo.svg unsigned_ref
Last Northern US 9 Reference Marker.jpg
Indicates a route number that has assigned ref that is not prominently signposted with a reassurance marker. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: references
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)may be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: de facto

The key unsigned_ref=* is used on highway=* ways and route=* relations to indicate the route number when the route number is not prominently signposted with a [W] reassurance marker.

It may be not signposted anywhere at all, what is a typical situation. But in some rare cases there are tiny, unusable by drivers, signs.

The value of this tag follows the same format as ref=*. For example, a way might have unsigned_ref=SR 927B, whereas a relation would have unsigned_ref=927B. This tag should appear on the relation if the entire route has a single reference route number, and on the ways comprising the route in cases of multiple reference route numbers.


This tag has not gone through a formal proposal/voting process. However, it is in common usage.

It is useful in cases where “unsigned” highway routes are typically used by road maintenance crews but not the general public. For example in the United States this tag is popular – there may in fact be signs posted with the route number, but they aren't visible or frequent enough to allow for effective navigation by motorists. Also in other countries, for example in Poland many minor roads have officially assigned codes, but these codes are not used by general public and are not posted anywhere at all or with barely visible signs.

United States

New York

Unsigned state highways use unsigned_ref=971B (from example in picture) for relations. Use unsigned_ref=SR 971B on the ways themselves.


Use unsigned_ref=* for county and township roads that are not as clearly signed as on a state highway on the way.


Township roads use unsigned_ref=Txxx on the ways. Do not add a ref=* tag for township roads.


See also

  • ref=* - if a route is signed, then use this tag.
  • official_ref=* - avoids confusion in cases where there is a tiny sign.
  • highway_authority_ref=* - Road reference for internal use by the highway authority
  • old_ref:legislative=* - Historical route numbers in certain U.S. states
  • noref=* – to explicitly state that there exists no meaningful value for ref=* for an object
  • ref:signed=no – can be used to mark that an object has no signed reference code
  • unsigned=* - Describes the absence of a sign to survey a property or its existence