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Public-images-osm logo.svg highway = motorway
A4-passante di mestre dd.png
High capacity highways designed to safely carry fast motor traffic. Edit or translate this description.
Rendering in openstreetmap-carto
Rendering-highway motorway carto.png
Group: Highways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: de facto


The tag highway=motorway is used to identify the highest-performance roads within a territory.

Typically highway=motorway should be used only on roads with control of access, or selected roads with limited access depending on the local context and prevailing convention.

Generally roads with control of access are proclaimed in government documents, and have an official status as a controlled access road, sometimes this can include the term motorway, freeway or expressway among others in the road name. These kinds of roads usually have a special designation by the law, with a set of laws specifically applied on them. Generally some restrictions are placed on the kind of vehicles or traffic which can be on roads which should be classed as highway=motorway, such as no pedestrians, bicycles, livestock, horses and so on.

Selected limited access roads which can be classed as motorways include those that:

  • Generally resemble a controlled access road and must be free from intersection controls (such as traffic-signals, rotaries and roundabouts, and stop signs or stop markings);
  • Typically have at least two lanes in each traffic direction with some degree of separation;
  • Have access roads only for servicing purposes, such as a limited number of driveways serving non-residential property, service roads to infrastructure, or rest-area roads or bays, which may be more typical in regional or rural settings

For roads which do not meet the above requirements consider using highway=trunk (high-importance non-motorway roads) and/or motorroad=yes (motorway-like access restrictions), subject to local tagging conventions in your country. See Highway:International equivalence for guidance on the use of the highway=motorway tag in different countries.

The tag highway=motorway_link should be used for the link roads, sliproads or ramps which lead to and from a motorway. Where one motorway terminates or begins on another the highway=motorway_link can be used to separate and identify the different motorway roads and the continuing route; that is, generally two diverging or converging highway=motorway ways should not meet or join in OpenStreetMap, but rather be separated by highway=motorway_link ways.

Implied values

While the box on the right lists some implied tags, they have been changed several times, they are often country-specific and the community does not agree about the implications. It is suggested to include implied tags when mapping motorways regardless.

Most motorways have  shoulders along each carriageway, but you may use shoulder=no to indicate missing shoulder. If a motorway uses emergency bays or emergency refuge areas instead of a shoulder then highway=emergency_bay can be added to nodes where they exist.

In some places areas some highway=motorway allow cyclists and pedestrians (on a shoulder). It means that explicit foot=no, bicycle=no, shoulder=yes may be useful even if seemingly obvious[1].

How to map

highway=motorway, lanes=4, oneway=yes, int_ref=E 451, ref=A 5, destination:Darmstadt

A motorway is normally represented by a series two parallel ways, one for each carriageway tagged with highway=motorway. These ways should all point direction of travel and be tagged with oneway=yes. In the less usual case of a motorway where traffic travels in both directions along the same carriageway use a single way and tag it with oneway=no. When drawing parallel ways, place the nodes for each direction next to each other, which results in a better representation on most maps. The following tags may be applicable:

Tagging scheme for highway=motorway
Tag Description Example
name=* Name of the motorway. Autostrada dei Fiori
ref=* Highway code in the national highway network. A 3
oneway=yes See section #How to map
lanes=* Number of lanes. 3
maxspeed=* The maximum speed which is allowed (in km/h). 130
minspeed=* Minimum driving speed on the motorway (in km/h). 50
destination=* Name of town for the direction of the motorway. Normally the town written on the sign which belongs to the motorway-link. Frankfurt
carriageway_ref=* In the UK, the reference number for the carriageway, as displayed on Highway Agency signing B
toll=yes On paid motorways

Use highway=motorway_junction at each point along a motorway with numbered exits to identify the exit number.

Toll gates

example of toll gates

It is not desirable to split motorway into multiple highway=* lines at toll gates.

International equivalence

Country Roadsign Description More
Australia Motorways, freeways, and freeway-like roads.
Divided roads with 2 or 3 lanes in each direction, limited access via interchanges, no traffic lights. Generally 100 or 110 km/h speed limit. For example: Hume Freeway.
Australian Roads Tagging
Austria Autobahn WikiProject Austria/Autobahnen
Belarus Дорога для автомобилей.png Дарога для аўтамабіляў RU:Map Features:highway
Belgium Autosnelweg/Autoroute/Autobahn nl:autostrade/autosnelweg fr:autoroute de:autobahn maxspeed=120 km/h
Brazil Autoestradas, >80 km/h
Croatia Autocesta
Czechia Dálnice Dálnice Cs:WikiProjekt Česko/Značení silnic
Denmark Motorvej Motorvej Danish Map Features
Dominican Republic Autopista
France France road sign C207.svg Autoroute (A) : divided roads with 2 lanes or more in each direction, plus a lane on the right reserved for emergency stop.
  • Most autoroutes are privately operated and require passing a toll for long distance, but some sections in specific areas may be toll free.
  • Max speed is usually 130 km/h (110 km/h under raining/snowing/freezing/foggy conditions) but may be reduced to 110 km/h or lower around large cities or autoroute junctions, or in case of works, and will be reduced to 90 km/h or lower if traffic is temporarily derouted to a single bidirectional carriage on a single lane per direction.
  • Access (or crossing) forbidden for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles (except in designated service areas with parkings where max speed is reduced, or behind the protection barriers along autoroutes to reach the neareast emergency phone).
Fr:Map Features
Georgia Autobahn ავტობანი (avtobani)
Germany Autobahn Autobahn WikiProject Germany/Autobahn
Greece Αυτοκινητόδρομος Αυτοκινητόδρομος WikiProject Greece/Motorways
Hong Kong Hong Kong road sign (Expressway Begins).svg Designated expressways, road tunnels and tunnel areas. Zh-hant:Hong Kong tagging
Hungary Autópálya Autópálya WikiProject Hungary/Gyorsforgalmi út
Indonesia Rambu petunjuk 4a.svg Jalan Tol
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Freeway in Iran.png
The Freeways according to the definition of Iranian National Standardization Organization.
Israel Dálnice Kwish Mahir
Italy Autostrada Autostrada, compresi i raccordi autostradali come le tangenziali di Milano e il Grande Raccordo Anulare di Roma. It:Italian Roads Tagging
Japan Japan road sign 325.svg Expressways or motor roads. Normally divided with 2 or more lanes in each direction.
Korea Korean Highway 3.svg Divided, grade-separated highway with 2 or more lanes in each direction designated by a red and blue shield (toll roads). Also, some National Routes (blue oval) which have been upgraded to Motorway status (toll-free). Ko:Map Features
Korea Motorways
Malaysia Expressway logo.png Lebuhraya: usually tolled. Expressway section of the Malaysian_Roads_Tagging page
Netherlands Autosnelweg NL:The Netherlands roads tagging
New Zealand Motorway begins nz -vector.svg
Expressway begins nz -vector.svg
Motorways and expressways
Divided highway with 2 or more lanes in each direction. Grade-separated interchanges (no at-grade intersections, traffic lights or roundabouts). Generally 100 or 110 km/h speed limit.
Norway No sign-MotorwayStart Duel-502.png Motorvei No:Map_Features#Road_classes
Philippines Expressways (mostly tolled).
Examples include the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Metro Manila Skyway, Subic - Clark - Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), Tarlac - Pangasinan - La Union Expressway (TPLEX), Manila - Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX/Coastal Road), etc.
Philippines/Mapping conventions#Roads
Poland Autostrada Autostrada WikiProject Poland/Klasyfikacja dróg
Portugal Autostrada Auto-estrada – all the motorways with "A" reference. For example: A 25. Portugal's highways standardization
Romania Romania road sign G6.svg [W] Autostradă
Russia 5.1 Russian road sign.svg автомагистраль (avtomagistral'), которая уже имеет статус trunk. RU:Map Features:highway
Slovak Republic DiaľnicaRýchlostná cesta Diaľnica & Rýchlostná cesta
Slovenia Avtocesta WikiProject_Slovenia/Ceste#AC, HC - Avtoceste in Hitre ceste
Spain Autopista/Autovía WikiProject Spain/Autopista Normalización
Sweden Motorväg Sv:Map Features#Vägar
Switzerland Autobahn Autobahn / autoroute
Taiwan 國道 (Freeway) WikiProject Taiwan/Taiwan tagging
Turkey OtoyolLevhaGenis.png Otoyol Vikipedi(turkish) Motorway network in Turkey. Highways in use, under construction and projected Tr:Turkey roads tagging
UK UK traffic sign 2901.svg motorway
US A freeway, turnpike, or interstate
Grade-separated highway, normally divided with 2 or more lanes in each direction. Access by ramps only. This includes all Interstate Highways (with a couple of rare exceptions) and some US and state highways (or portions thereof).
Venezuela Se califica como autopista a una vía rápida que cumpla con las características de:

1. Tener un separador físico en el medio, ya sea un muro de concreto o una gran extensión de tierra, que divida las dos calzadas de flujo.

2. La misma debe ser accedida exclusivamente a través de un distribuidor vial y no contener cruces ni semáforos a lo largo de su travesía.

Si la vía rápida no cumple con ambas características, se le debe clasificar como una Principal (trunk)
Ejemplos de autopistas pueden ser la Regional del Centro de Caracas a Valencia o la José Antonio Páez de San Carlos (Portuguesa) a Barinas.

Quality tool

  1. https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/tagging/2021-January/thread.html#58857 - about pedestrian access on major roads, includes discussion of feasibility, legality and sanity of pedestrian traffic on roads, up to and including motorways and revealed that explicit tagging of pedestrian access may be useful even on motorways