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Public-images-osm logo.svg waterway = fairway
A navigable route in a lake or sea, often marked by buoys or beacons. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: waterways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: in use

Use waterway=fairway for a linear way representation of a navigable route in a body of water such as a lake or sea, in cases where other values such as waterway=river or waterway=canal are not appropriate. Do not use instead of waterway=river or waterway=canal.

A fairway may be marked with bouys on the water, beacons on land or consist of a otherwise visible and verifiable connection between points where there is an entrance to or exit from a body of water, such as the points where a waterway=river or waterway=canal enter a lake.

waterway=fairway should not be confused with route=ferry, which describes a form of (public) transport for road users that operates to connect road networks across a body of water.

How to map

See also: Waterways

Create a simple linear way way, in the direction of flow if relevant, and add waterway=fairway.

For a artificially created major navigation channel, marked by buoys or beacons on the water also add an area area for seamark:type=fairway.


A tag like waterway=fairway is needed to represent verifiable navigable waterway passages across open water, but has lead to discussion on Talk:Tag:waterway=fairway, since it has overlap with several other tags and concepts.

The presence of bouys on the water for instance is not the defining property of a fairway: bouys can also be present on a waterway=river or waterway=canal and fairways without bouys can also exist. The usage of the word fairway in waterway=fairway may be different from its use in other contexts. Although it has been suggested to use other tags instead of waterway=fairway, this is still the most widely used tag for navigable passages across open water.

See also

  • seamark:type=fairway - Area area representation of that part of a river, harbour and so on, where the main navigable channel for vessels of larger size lies.
  • IHO - Fairway - That part of a river, harbour etc. where the main navigable channel for vessels of larger size lies. It is also the usual course followed by vessels entering or leaving harbours and sometimes called “ship channel”
  • IHO - Channel - That part of a body of water (sometimes dredged) deep enough for navigation through an area otherwise not navigable. It is usually marked by a single or double line of buoys and sometimes by ranges. The deepest part of a stream, bay or strait through which the main current flows. See also strait.
  • route=motorboat - A recreational route specifically signed for motorboats (and not signed for other boats such as canoes)
  • route=canoe - A signed route for canoes, kayaks, or other paddle craft.


Fairway Szczecin-Swinoujscie, Poland
Navigation Channel at Lower Harbour, Port Chalmers, Otago Harbour, Dunedin, New Zealand