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Public-images-osm logo.svg boundary = administrative
An administrative boundary Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Grup: Boundaries
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should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)may be used on relations
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An administrative boundary. Subdivisions of areas/territories/jurisdictions recognised by governments or other organisations for administrative purposes.

Administrative boundaries range from large groups of nation states right down to small administrative districts and suburbs, with an indication of this size/level of importance, given by the combo tag 'admin_level' which takes a value from 1 to 10 as described below.

The boundary=administrative tag is used on ways way. It may also (or instead) be used on a relation grouping several ways. This works rather like coastline. Because ways have a maximum number of nodes, you are not required to loop around a whole administration with a single way to form a closed area (although this is a good idea for very small administrative areas)

Many administrative boundaries are currently tagged also with place=*.

Note that OSM follows On the Ground Rule. Boundaries recorded in OpenStreetMap are ones that are the most widely internationally recognised and best meets realities on the ground, generally meaning physical control. In areas without clearly defined borders, the line is approximate[1].

Note that it does not mean that OSM community considers specific invasions/wars/whatever that resulted in border change as good/desirable/welcome/wrong. OSM community attempts to map world as it exists, not as it should exist.

Note that in some cases borders may overlap without making it an incorrect tagging. It may be result of agreement between countries to administer area together[2] or to mark areas not controlled by any country, with both claiming it[3]

Super-national administrations

  • European Union

Note: a trans-national administration is not a super-national organisation and should not be tagged admin_level=1.


+ admin_level=2 

marks country borders, such as the border between Austria and Germany. The names of the countries is specified through the tags left:country=*, right:country=*, if used on a linear way rather than an enclosed/area way.

There is some controversy about what is the exact meaning of country. For the sake of clarity, only political entities listed on the ISO 3166 standard are to be considered countries. There also exist some dependent territories and special areas of geographical interest which do have their own ISO 3166-1 code but aren't a country. Two places that do not have codes assigned by ISO are considered countries: Kosovo and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Country names in the table below are written in English.


+ admin_level=3 to 10

marks subnational borders. The names of the subnational entities involved is specified as with national borders, with "parish", "district", "region", "province", "state"


admin_level=1 to 10 has been introduced in order that different borders can be rendered consistently among countries (doing this based on border_type would require knowledge of their hierarchy in each country).

Besides administrative boundaries, the admin_level=* tag may also be used on features tagged with government=*. The admin_level=* values described below also apply to the capital=* and heritage=* tags.


admin_level Example rendering admin_level Example rendering admin_level Example rendering
1 (not rendered) 5 Rendering-adminlevel 5-mapnik.png 9 Rendering-adminlevel 9-mapnik.png
2 Rendering-adminlevel 2-mapnik.png 6 Rendering-adminlevel 6-mapnik.png 10 Rendering-adminlevel 10-mapnik.png
3 Rendering-adminlevel 3-mapnik.png 7 Rendering-adminlevel 7-mapnik.png 11 (not rendered)
4 Rendering-adminlevel 4-mapnik.png 8 Rendering-adminlevel 8-mapnik.png 12 (not rendered)

Table : Admin_level for all countries

The table is visible here.


You can use this overpass query to get :

  • all nodes, ways and relations of a specific country with a tag admin_level. Just replace, on the third line, "Afghanistan" by the appropriate name (in english) of the country that you want to control
  • in the result, for each line, you will have the type of the element (node, way, relation), the id of the element and several tags of the element = admin_level, name, name:en, wikidata, wikipedia


  1. - OSMF official statement summarizing the situation of mapping disputed boundaries, borders, names and descriptions
  2. Condominium Luxembourg-Deutschland with other examples listed for example on
  3. Perejil Island, claimed by both Morocco and Spain. Both sides agreed not to occupy it. Mapped as outer way on Spain multipolygon, without making it inner of Morocco multipolygon.

See also