Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Filter by Categories
ArcGIS Pro

How To Download OSM GIS Data

How To Download OpenStreetMap GIS Data – Both Small And Large Datasets

Downloading OSM data can be done directly on the OpenStreetMap website for small areas, or through Planet OSM for large extracts. The complete OSM data for the entire Earth is available at planet OSM. Every week, new updates are made to the dataset, which typically become available on each Wednesday. The entire OSM data can be downloaded in XML or PBF formats using bit torrents.

Planet OSM does not provide a way to query OSM data. With it you can only download the entire dataset for the whole planet. To be able to download extracts of OSM data, several tools have been developed by various third parties over the years. The third party sources mirror the Planet OSM repository and provide capabilities for worldwide and regional OSM data extracts. Some of the mirror websites also have dedicated features that can convert OSM files to different GIS formats such as shapefile, KML, GeoPackage, and GeoJSON, among others.

This guide outlines several methods for downloading OSM data and the steps involved. You will find that many methods are suitable for a variety of OSM data needs. If you are interested on more specific guides for downloading certain types of OSM data, check out guides more guides on how to:

  • Download Cycling Data From OpenStreetMap
  • Download Building Footprints From OpenStreetMap

How to Download Small OSM Datasets Using the OpenStreetMap Website

Using the OpenStreetMap website for OSM downloads is only possible if the size of the area to be downloaded is relatively small (usually below 0.25 degrees squared). Larger downloads will be rejected by the OSM export window, and instead, you will be asked to use alternative methods to download large OSM data. If the size of your Area of Interest (AOI) is within the OSM website threshold the steps below to download. The OSM website captures live updates of the OSM data and provides the most recent copy.

Step 1: Open the OSM website and click on the green export button the Export Window

OpenStreetMap Export Window

Step 2: Zoom in to your Area of Interest (AOI) and click the blue Export button to download

After the download is complete, a file in .osm format will be saved to your device. The file contains the OSM data for the AOI you defined.

How to download large OSM data using mirror sites

Mirrors of the Planet OSM allow users to extract large OSM data that cannot be downloaded directly on the OSM website. Mirror sites can extract OSM data by region or country, or as well cookie cut with a polygon shape of the AOI. The sections below outline the various ways of downloading OSM data using mirror sites.

How to Download OSM Data with Overpass API

The Overpass API provides a way to query the data in Planet OSM. Users can filter and extract selected OSM data without having to download the whole dataset. Plugins such as QuickOSM for downloading OSM data in QGIS, and its counterpart OSMquery for downloading OSM data in ArcGIS are both powered by Overpass API. Another way to download data with the overpass API is through the Overpass Turbo – a web based interface for running overpass API queries. In overpass turbo, the query results can be analyzed interactively on a map.

Using Overpass Turbo to Download OSM Data

Downloading OSM data through the OSM turbo interface will require some knowledge of how OSM data is structured i.e. nodes, ways, relations, and tags. Additionally, one must be familiar with the query language for overpass API. For reference see the Overpass API/Language Guide. The following are the steps to download OSM data using overpass turbo:

Step 1: Open Overpass turbo and write your overpass query for the data you need

Overpass turbo Interface

Step 2: Or click “Wizard” to use it for creating queries and click “build and run query” when done

Step 3: Click on “Export” and choose the download link beside your preferred data format

How to Download OSM Data with HOT Exports

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Export tool serves customized OSM data in several file formats such as shapefile, GeoPackage, GeoJSON, Garmin, among others. It is best suited for downloading data for humanitarian projects. The following are the steps involved in downloading OSM data with HOT Exports.

Step 1: Open the HOT Export tool, use the tools in the map window to draw a bounding box for your area of interest, and fill in the name description for your OSM download.

The HOT Export tool

Step 2: Choose the data format(s) you want to download.

Step 3: Choose the type of OSM data you need to download i.e. buildings , administrative boundaries, etc.

Step 4: Click export data. Links will be created for all the data formats you chose in step 2.

How to Download OSM Data with Geofabrik

Geofabrik provides OSM data extracts for entire continents and countries. For a few countries including the US and UK, extracts for sub-county admin regions are also provided. The data is updated daily and can be downloaded in PBF, shapefile, and OSM XML formats. Follow these steps to download OSM data with Geofabrik:

Step 1: For regional downloads, go to geofabrik and under quick links, find the download link for the region you want to download.

Geofabrik Web Interface

Step 2: For country OSM data, open the region it is in and click on its download link to downloads

How to Download OSM Data with BBBike

With BBBike you can obtain OSM data extracts for an area size of up to 24, 000,000 km2 or a file size of 512 MB. The data can be downloaded in several different formats including PBF, Shapefile, GeoJSON, SVG, Mapsforge CSV, and Garmin. The data in BBBike is updated weekly. Users need to have an OSM account to download OSM data with this site. The following are the steps to download OSM data with BBBike:

Step 1: Open BBBike and choose the format you want to download OSM data from the “Format” dropdown

BBBike Window

Step 2: Fill in a name for the data you want to download and your email address then define the bounding box for the area whose OSM data you want to download

Step 3: Click extract and a download BBBike will prepare a download link and sent it to the email you provided

Other ways to Download OSM Data

The methods outlined above are not an exhaustive list of the ways in which OSM data can be downloaded. There are various other ways, some of which are used to simply pull OSM data and use it in an interactive map. Ultimately, the way decision on which method to use to download OSM data will be influenced by what your needs.

About the Author
I'm Daniel O'Donohue, the voice and creator behind The MapScaping Podcast ( A podcast for the geospatial community ). With a professional background as a geospatial specialist, I've spent years harnessing the power of spatial to unravel the complexities of our world, one layer at a time.

Leave a Reply