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NUTS and LAU is standard developed of territorial units developed by European Union. It defines hierarchical structure of territories with 5 levels (NUTS1, NUTS2, NUTS3, LAU1, LAU2). LAU1 used to be called NUTS4, LAU2 used to be called NUTS5 and although the LAU system completely replaced these, the historical terms are sometimes still used.

Please help to gather information about NUTS and LAU hierarchies relevant for OSM mappers on this page.

Levels and references

For each EU member country, a hierarchy of three NUTS levels is established by Eurostat; the subdivisions in some levels do not necessarily correspond to administrative divisions within the country, but are described as "socio-economic regions" and used for European statistics.

A NUTS code begins with a two-letter code referencing the country, which is identical to the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code (except UK instead of GB for the United Kingdom). The subdivision of the country is then referred to with one number. A second or third subdivision level is referred to with another number each. Each numbering starts with 1, as 0 is used for the upper level. In case the subdivision has more than nine entities, capital letters are used to continue the numbering. A similar statistical system is defined for the candidate countries and members of the European Free Trade Association, but they are not technically part of NUTS governed by the regulations.

  • NUTS1 - large regions which have approximate population 3-7 millions. Bigger states are separated to more NUTS1 regions. Reference examples - Luxembourg has NUTS1 code LU0, German state Hessen has code DE7, Scotland has NUTS1 code UKM.
  • NUTS2 - many European financial institutions operate on this level which have approximate population 0.8-3 millions. Some smaller state are only one NUTS2 region Reference examples - Luxembourg is has NUTS2 code LU00, Central Bohemian Region has NUTS2 code CZ020.
  • NUTS3 - local administration often operates at this level which have approximate population 150-800 thousand. Reference example: Wetteraukreis – Kreis has NUTS3 code DE71E.

Note that not all countries have every level of division, depending on their size. One of the most extreme cases is Luxembourg, which has only LAUs; the three NUTS divisions each correspond to the entire country itself. It is however advisable to create separate relation for each of these level even though the territory is the same. Not only the code can be different, but also the name of region depending on what level of nomenclature we speak. NUTS is thus in some extent similar to the ISO 3166-2 standard, as well as the FIPS 10-4 standard of the United States.

Regions belonging to more than one NUTS level

There are several territories which belong to more NUTS levels, e.g. they have more NUTS reference numbers, for example

  • Berlin
  • Bratislavský kraj (Slovakia)
  • Bremen
  • Centre – Val de Loire
  • Corse
  • Cyprus
  • Estonia
  • Ile-de-France
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Pest county (Hungary)
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste (Italy)
  • Vienna
  • etc.


There is currently no standardized tagging schemes, but the de facto standard is to have separate relation for each NUTS level with all or some of these keys:

Key Value example Notes
type boundary (required) denotes that the relation is a boundary=* relation.
boundary administrative (required if this matches a national administrative subdivision) denotes that the relation is a administrative relation.
Otherwise use boundary=statistics.
admin_level 6 (required if this matches a national administrative subdivision) see admin_level=*.
name Ústecký kraj (required) name of the region
wikipedia cs:Ústecký kraj (recommended) the page name on Wikipedia describing the region. This value is very important as Nominatim search derives the importance of region and the result order heavily from this key.
wikidata Qnnnn (recommended) the Wikidata element for the region.
population 828026 (recommended) population of the region
source:population csu:uir-zsj (recommended) source for population information (possibly with year or date). This is very useful when one wants to update, precise the information in population key.
ref CZ042 (optional) the NUTSx or LAUy reference number (x = 1-3, y=1-2), in case that there are more nomenclatures, it is not clear which one to use. In the European Union it is probably safe to use this official classification. But other countries prefer here their national official reference number (used in most sources and applications, and better known by local users), as NUTS/LAN areas may not always match the current administrative subdivisions (so NUTS/LAU reference numbers they are only used for European statistics, but not directly for most national statistics).
ref:nuts CZ042 (required if this is a NUTS region) the NUTSx reference number

Since several regions have more than one NUTS ref number, it may pose a question which one should be used here.

ref:lau 531057 (required if this is a LAU region) the LAUx reference number
ref:lau:1 or
531057 (optional) the same as ref:lau, but explicitly mentioning the level to which region belongs.

This is probably better for computer parsers, since there is currently to tag which like nuts_level=* or lau_level=* which would show at which level of nomenclature we are. However this can be infered directly from the hierarchical LAU code format.

ref:nuts:1 or
ref:nuts:2 or
CZ042 (optional) the same as ref:nuts, but explicitly mentioning the level to which region belongs.

This is probably better for computer parsers, since there is currently to tag which like nuts_level=* which would show at which level of nomenclature we are. However this can be infered directly from the hierarchical LAU code format.

If a region has more NUTS reference numbers, each of them can be used on OSM with this scheme while it is not the case with ref:nuts.

is_in:country Česko (deprecated) country in which the region belongs. Another is_in=* keys can be used as well.
is_in:nuts CZ0723 (deprecated) smallest NUTS region to which the region belongs (NUTS-3 for LAU regions, NUTS-2 for NUTS-3, etc ...). Due to the hierarchical way with which the NUTS/LAU ref numbers are constructed, this can be infered directly from the NUTS/LAU ref of the current region.
CZ0723 (deprecated) NUTS-x region to which the region belongs.

There seems to be difference betwean LAU2 vs NUTS5 codes. Although the former was derived from the latter the structure of codes may differ. For example NUTS5 code for Beroun used to be CZ0202531057 (or CZ0202 531057) but the LAU2 code is apparently only 531057. Anyway, NUTS4 and NUTS5 codes are deprecated, both replaced by LAU1 and LAU2 codes.

Country-specific tagging guidelines for NUTS/LAU regions

External links