Types of relation

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These types of relation are relations that we have in wide use and others which have been proposed.

Established relations

Type Status Element Comment Photo
multipolygon de facto area For areas where the outline consists of multiple ways, or that have holes; also used for boundaries.
route approved relation way Like bus routes, cycle routes and numbered highways
route_master approved relation route_master contains (parallel, opposite, variant, …) routes only; heavily used to group route variants in public transport.
superroute relation Avoid, superroute contains (concatenable) routes only.
restriction de facto node way Any kind of turn restriction.
boundary de facto way For grouping boundaries and marking enclaves/exclaves.
site de facto way Relation to group elements of a site such as a school together.
associatedStreet node way House numbers related to a street. See Karlsruhe scheme. Somewhat controversial.
public_transport approved node way Part of the OSM public transport scheme. Mainly used by public_transport=stop_area.
network de facto node way relation Relations that describe networks with their members being the members of this network.
street node way Bind all parts of a street together and everything else that belongs to it.
destination_sign approved way Destination signs at or before intersections. LA2-blagulskylt.jpg
waterway approved way Relation to group elements of a waterway=*.
enforcement approved node way Traffic enforcement devices; speed cameras, redlight cameras, weight checks, …
bridge no vote way Groups together all elements of one bridge.
tunnel no vote way Groups together all elements of one tunnel.
This table is a wiki template with a default description in English editable here.

Proposed uses of relations

abandoned and obsoleted propositions not included

Junctions, intersections, grade separated crossings, and embankments

Relations/Proposed/Bridges and Tunnels
grouping all ways using a common bridge or tunnel
all the ways that make up a junction (such as a motorway intersection)
Relations/Proposed/Turn hints
Hints for whether a turn is a slight left, sharp left, fork, etc.
Relations/Proposed/turn lanes
which turns are allowed from a given lane

Area hierarchies and other relations for areas

to define areas between ways and lanes (linear crossover), virtual and physical dividers and crossover-possibilities, etc.
for buildings where you want to record the outline, entrances, perimeter fence etc, now mostly used for Simple 3D Buildings mapping
Manually placed labels or icons in areas
For floors in 3D-Objects (Subway stations, buildings, etc.).
For grouping buildings elements of a site together
for grouping together all relevant items of a sled run.


for grouping features with a collective name or address etc.
Karlsruhe Schema
Relations/Proposed/Postal Addresses
for grouping ways into complete streets, as well as associating other elements with it


defines a set of default values (speed limits, oneways, access) for a country, a state
Relations/Proposed/Provides feature
to associate an object such as a restaurant, hotel or museum with one or more map features such as addresses or entrances.