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In the US, it is common for areas outside of any municipality ("unincorporated areas") to have an address that is based on the town where the nearest post office is. For instance, addresses on Abilene Road near where I live would be listed as "xxx Abilene Rd, Farmville, VA".

As it stands, if you type in that address on, you get nothing at all. If you happen to know the ins and outs of nominatim, and you happen to know the name of the county that the municipality is in, you could type "Abilene Road, Prince Edward" (but not "Prince Edward County"!) and it would find it. But that's not exactly very user-friendly (to say the least), and it's certainly not what arbitrary users are likely to type into the search field.

So I assume that what's needed here is a separate set of boundaries, that Nominatim knows about, that correspond to post office service areas but include the name of the town that the post office serves (and there's a lot of complexity there in terms of overlap with other named entities, like towns, cities, and counties). Does such a thing already exist? Should it? Does it fit within the existing framework (i.e. "add a new key-value pair") or would this require additional architecting for some reason I can't think of right now?

asked 28 Jan '13, 19:34

blahedo's gravatar image

accept rate: 50%

Just a note that Ireland is another country affected by this "postal address != geographical address" post-office crazyness. I dont think we've tried tagging that fact anywhere in Ireland yet, though.

(29 Jan '13, 09:38) Vincent de P... ♦

I just ran across another question on essentially the same problem, which I'll crosslink here for future reference:

(16 Dec '13, 19:20) blahedo

Blahedo (or anyone else, for that matter),

Has there ever been a resolution for this problem? I ask because I've noticed it as well for many addresses.


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answered 04 Aug '14, 04:33

Jack%20the%20Ripper's gravatar image

Jack the Ripper
accept rate: 12%


Not that I can tell (including in the other two related questions that I cross-linked). Part of the problem here, I think, is that most of the technical competence is held by residents of countries with a more sane boundary system, who are having a hard time even understanding the question. :)

(04 Aug '14, 04:48) blahedo

Seems like the best solution in my opinion, with a name if it matches the postal code area. If not then create something similar like boundary=postal_town as pointed out in the other comment.

(04 Aug '14, 12:13) AndiG88

Yeah...the hard part will be figuring out exactly where the boundary is. I know it for some streets, but there are thousands of them in unincorporated areas of the county. :-( Me no likey this answer.

(05 Aug '14, 16:34) Jack the Ripper

If you are able to define postal town boundaries they can be drawn as polygons I would suggest tagging them in a similar way to how some postal_codes have been imported (see here). i.e. tag the relation type=boundary, boundary=postal_town

If you decide to go down this route you should:

1) discuss it with the USA mapping community to get consensus

2) document the boundary=postal_town tagging on the wiki

When there is a reasonable amount of data in the correct format hopefully nominatim can be modified to make use of the data but it is easier to do once there is test data available.

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answered 29 Jan '13, 01:37

twain's gravatar image

accept rate: 40%

Simply add an addr:city tag to your road to indicate the postal town. Nominatim will respect that, provided the road is not inside the boundaries of another town.

I'm not aware of any established tagging schema for mapping something like that as boundaries but there are no architectural reasons for not adding support for it to Nominatim, should one come into regular use.

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answered 28 Jan '13, 22:35

lonvia's gravatar image

accept rate: 40%

I dont think that will work, asfar as I can see nomiatim does not care about addr:city. See as an example

(31 Jan '13, 01:27) tothod

addr:city is indeed only taken into account if it is on the road. It will not work on individual nodes/ways for house numbers. This is due to the way Nominatim handles house numbers internally: they don't have their own address but simply reuse the one from their parent street.

(31 Jan '13, 06:31) lonvia

There is some conflicting advice being given on a related question ( ).

(01 Dec '13, 20:45) blahedo

Hello blahedi and lonvia,

addr:city should really NOT be tagged to a street!

Here in Germany we have postal_code=XXXX on some ways, that wa sthe "old" method to define where a street belongs to. But this schema is superseded due to boundary relations that define the area where a postal_code is valid.

So please don't change OSM tagging because Nominatim "needs" this.

(02 Dec '13, 19:50) stephan75

There are boundary relations that define the area where a postal_code is valid? Is a postal_code the same as an addr:postcode? This is helpful and sounds like it would be an answer to this question---could you formulate that into an answer (not just a comment)?

(03 Dec '13, 17:26) blahedo

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question asked: 28 Jan '13, 19:34

question was seen: 8,995 times

last updated: 21 Oct '14, 07:12

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum