Google Maps API Web Services

The Google Geocoding API

  1. What is Geocoding?
  2. Before You Begin
  3. API Key
  4. Usage Limits
  5. Geocoding API Request Format
  6. Geocoding (Latitude/Longitude Lookup)
  7. Geocoding Responses
    1. JSON Output Formats
    2. XML Output Formats
    3. Status Codes
    4. Error Messages
    5. Results
    6. Address Types and Address Component Types
  8. Viewport Biasing
  9. Region Biasing
  10. Component Filtering
  11. Reverse Geocoding (Address Lookup)
    1. Example of Reverse Geocoding
    2. Reverse Geocoding Restricted by Type
    3. Reverse Geocoding Responses
    4. Reverse Geocoding Status Codes

This document discusses the Geocoding API v3. Note that the Geocoding API v2 has been turned down and is no longer available. Users of the Geocoding API v2 service should upgrade to v3.

Looking to use this service in a JavaScript application? Check out the Geocoder class of the Google Maps API v3.

What is Geocoding?

Geocoding is the process of converting addresses (like "1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA") into geographic coordinates (like latitude 37.423021 and longitude -122.083739), which you can use to place markers or position the map.

Reverse geocoding is the process of converting geographic coordinates into a human-readable address.

The Google Geocoding API provides a direct way to access a these services via an HTTP request.

Before You Begin

This document is intended for website and mobile developers who want to use geocoding data within maps provided by one of the Google Maps APIs.

This service is generally designed for geocoding static (known in advance) addresses for placement of application content on a map; this service is not designed to respond in real time to user input, for example. For dynamic geocoding (for example, within a user interface element), consult the documentation for the JavaScript API V3 Client Geocoder and/or the Google Play services Location APIs.

Geocoding is a time and resource intensive task. Whenever possible, pre-geocode known addresses (using the Geocoding API described here or another geocoding service), and store your results in a temporary cache of your own design.

API Key

Note: Maps for Business users must include client and signature parameters with their requests instead of a key.

All Geocoding API applications should use an API key. Including a key in your request:

  • Allows you to monitor your application's API usage in the APIs Console.
  • Enables per-key instead of per-IP-address quota limits.
  • Ensures that Google can contact you about your application if necessary.

The Geocoding API uses an API key to identify your application. API keys are managed through the Google APIs console. To create your key:

  1. Visit the APIs console at https://code.google.com/apis/console and log in with your Google Account.
  2. Click the Services link from the left-hand menu in the APIs Console, then activate the Geocoding API service.
  3. Once the service has been activated, your API key is available from the API Access page, in the Simple API Access section. Geocoding API applications use the Key for server apps.

To specify a key in your request, include it as the value of a key parameter.

Note: By default, a key can be used from any server. We strongly recommend that you restrict the use of your key by IP address to servers that you administer. You can specify which IP addresses are allowed to use your API key by clicking the Edit allowed referers... link in the API console.

Note: HTTPS is enforced for requests that include an API key.

Usage Limits

The Google Geocoding API has the following limits in place:

Users of the free API:
  • 2,500 requests per 24 hour period.
Maps for Business customers:
  • 100,000 requests per 24 hour period.

Note: These limits apply to the Google Geocoding web service which is primarily intended for server-side geocoding. If you are geocoding data in response to user input on the web, or on a mobile device, consider using client side geocoding.

These limits are enforced to prevent abuse and/or repurposing of the Geocoding API, and may be changed in the future without notice. Additionally, we enforce a request rate limit to prevent abuse of the service. If you exceed the 24-hour limit or otherwise abuse the service, the Geocoding API may stop working for you temporarily. If you continue to exceed this limit, your access to the Geocoding API may be blocked.

For guidance on strategies for optimizing quota usage, please refer to Usage Limits for Google Maps API Web Services and Geocoding Strategies.

The Geocoding API may only be used in conjunction with a Google map; geocoding results without displaying them on a map is prohibited. For complete details on allowed usage, consult the Maps API Terms of Service License Restrictions.

Geocoding API Request Format

A Geocoding API request must be of the following form:

http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/output?parameters

where output may be either of the following values:

  • json (recommended) indicates output in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)
  • xml indicates output as XML

To access the Geocoding API over HTTPS, use:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/output?parameters

HTTPS is recommended for applications that include sensitive user data, such as a user's location, in requests.

Some parameters are required while some are optional. As is standard in URLs, parameters are separated using the ampersand (&) character.

Maps API for Business users must include valid client and signature parameters with their Geocoding requests. Please refer to Maps API for Business Web Services for more information.

The rest of this page describes geocoding and reverse geocoding separately, because different parameters are available for each type of request.

Geocoding (Latitude/Longitude Lookup)

Required parameters in a geocoding request:

  • address — The address that you want to geocode.
         or
    components — A component filter for which you wish to obtain a geocode. See Component Filtering for more information. The components filter will also be accepted as an optional parameter if an address is provided.
  • sensor — Indicates whether or not the geocoding request comes from a device with a location sensor. This value must be either true or false.

Optional parameters in a geocoding request:

  • bounds — The bounding box of the viewport within which to bias geocode results more prominently. This parameter will only influence, not fully restrict, results from the geocoder. (For more information see Viewport Biasing below.)
  • key — Your application's API key. This key identifies your application for purposes of quota management. Learn how to get a key from the APIs Console.
  • language — The language in which to return results. See the list of supported domain languages. Note that we often update supported languages so this list may not be exhaustive. If language is not supplied, the geocoder will attempt to use the native language of the domain from which the request is sent wherever possible.
  • region — The region code, specified as a ccTLD ("top-level domain") two-character value. This parameter will only influence, not fully restrict, results from the geocoder. (For more information see Region Biasing below.)
  • components — The component filters, separated by a pipe (|). Each component filter consists of a component:value pair and will fully restrict the results from the geocoder. For more information see Component Filtering, below.

Geocoding Responses

Geocoding responses are returned in the format indicated by the output flag within the URL request's path.

JSON Output Formats

In this example, the Geocoding API requests a json response for a query on "1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA":

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=1600+Amphitheatre+Parkway,+Mountain+View,+CA&sensor=true_or_false&key=API_KEY

We've left the sensor parameter in this example as a variable true_or_false to emphasize that you must set this value to either true or false explicitly.

The JSON returned by this request is shown below. Note that actual JSON may contain less whitespace. You should not make assumptions about the amount or format of whitespace between requests.

{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "1600",
               "short_name" : "1600",
               "types" : [ "street_number" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Amphitheatre Pkwy",
               "short_name" : "Amphitheatre Pkwy",
               "types" : [ "route" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Mountain View",
               "short_name" : "Mountain View",
               "types" : [ "locality", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Santa Clara",
               "short_name" : "Santa Clara",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_2", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "California",
               "short_name" : "CA",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "United States",
               "short_name" : "US",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "94043",
               "short_name" : "94043",
               "types" : [ "postal_code" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA",
         "geometry" : {
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 37.42291810,
               "lng" : -122.08542120
            },
            "location_type" : "ROOFTOP",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 37.42426708029149,
                  "lng" : -122.0840722197085
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 37.42156911970850,
                  "lng" : -122.0867701802915
               }
            }
         },
         "types" : [ "street_address" ]
      }
   ],
   "status" : "OK"
}

Note that the JSON response contains two root elements:

  • "status" contains metadata on the request. See Status Codes below.
  • "results" contains an array of geocoded address information and geometry information.

Generally, only one entry in the "results" array is returned for address lookups,though the geocoder may return several results when address queries are ambiguous.

Note that these results generally need to be parsed if you wish to extract values from the results. Parsing JSON is relatively easy. See Parsing JSON for some recommended design patterns.

XML Output Formats

In this example, the Geocoding API requests an xml response for the identical query shown above for "1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA":

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/xml?address=1600+Amphitheatre+Parkway,+Mountain+View,+CA&sensor=true_or_false&key=API_KEY

The XML returned by this request is shown below.

<GeocodeResponse>
 <status>OK</status>
 <result>
  <type>street_address</type>
  <formatted_address>1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA</formatted_address>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>1600</long_name>
   <short_name>1600</short_name>
   <type>street_number</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>Amphitheatre Pkwy</long_name>
   <short_name>Amphitheatre Pkwy</short_name>
   <type>route</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>Mountain View</long_name>
   <short_name>Mountain View</short_name>
   <type>locality</type>
   <type>political</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>San Jose</long_name>
   <short_name>San Jose</short_name>
   <type>administrative_area_level_3</type>
   <type>political</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>Santa Clara</long_name>
   <short_name>Santa Clara</short_name>
   <type>administrative_area_level_2</type>
   <type>political</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>California</long_name>
   <short_name>CA</short_name>
   <type>administrative_area_level_1</type>
   <type>political</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>United States</long_name>
   <short_name>US</short_name>
   <type>country</type>
   <type>political</type>
  </address_component>
  <address_component>
   <long_name>94043</long_name>
   <short_name>94043</short_name>
   <type>postal_code</type>
  </address_component>
  <geometry>
   <location>
    <lat>37.4217550</lat>
    <lng>-122.0846330</lng>
   </location>
   <location_type>ROOFTOP</location_type>
   <viewport>
    <southwest>
     <lat>37.4188514</lat>
     <lng>-122.0874526</lng>
    </southwest>
    <northeast>
     <lat>37.4251466</lat>
     <lng>-122.0811574</lng>
    </northeast>
   </viewport>
  </geometry>
 </result>
</GeocodeResponse>

Note that the XML response consists of a single <GeocodeResponse> and two top-level elements:

  • <status> contains metadata on the request. See Status Codes below.
  • Zero or more <result> elements, each containing a single set of geocoded address information and geometry information.

Note that this response is considerably longer than the JSON response. For that reason, we recommend that you use json as the preferred output flag unless your service requires xml for some reason. Additionally, processing XML trees requires some care, so that you reference proper nodes and elements. See Parsing XML with XPath for some recommended design patterns for output processing.

The remainder of this documentation will use JSON syntax. In most cases, the output format does not matter for purposes of illustrating concepts or field names in the documentation. However, note the following subtle differences:

  • XML results are wrapped in a root <GeocodeResponse> element.
  • JSON denotes entries with multiple elements by plural arrays (types), while XML denotes these using multiple singular elements (<type>).
  • Blank elements are indicated through empty arrays in JSON, but by the absense of any such element in XML. A response that generates no results will return an empty results array in JSON, but no <result> elements in XML, for example.

Status Codes

The "status" field within the Geocoding response object contains the status of the request, and may contain debugging information to help you track down why geocoding is not working. The "status" field may contain the following values:

  • "OK" indicates that no errors occurred; the address was successfully parsed and at least one geocode was returned.
  • "ZERO_RESULTS" indicates that the geocode was successful but returned no results. This may occur if the geocoder was passed a non-existent address.
  • "OVER_QUERY_LIMIT" indicates that you are over your quota.
  • "REQUEST_DENIED" indicates that your request was denied, generally because of lack of a sensor parameter.
  • "INVALID_REQUEST" generally indicates that the query (address, components or latlng) is missing.
  • "UNKNOWN_ERROR" indicates that the request could not be processed due to a server error. The request may succeed if you try again.

Error Messages

When the geocoder returns a status code other than OK, there may be an additional error_message field within the Geocoding response object. This field contains more detailed information about the reasons behind the given status code.

Note: This field is not guaranteed to be always present, and its content is subject to change.

Results

When the geocoder returns results, it places them within a (JSON) results array. Even if the geocoder returns no results (such as if the address doesn't exist) it still returns an empty results array. (XML responses consist of zero or more <result> elements.)

A typical result is made up of the following fields:

  • The types[] array indicates the type of the returned result. This array contains a set of zero or more tags identifying the type of feature returned in the result. For example, a geocode of "Chicago" returns "locality" which indicates that "Chicago" is a city, and also returns "political" which indicates it is a political entity.

  • formatted_address is a string containing the human-readable address of this location. Often this address is equivalent to the "postal address," which sometimes differs from country to country. (Note that some countries, such as the United Kingdom, do not allow distribution of true postal addresses due to licensing restrictions.) This address is generally composed of one or more address components. For example, the address "111 8th Avenue, New York, NY" contains separate address components for "111" (the street number, "8th Avenue" (the route), "New York" (the city) and "NY" (the US state). These address components contain additional information as noted below.

  • address_components[] is an array containing the separate address components, as explained above. Each address_component typically contains:

    • types[] is an array indicating the type of the address component.
    • long_name is the full text description or name of the address component as returned by the Geocoder.
    • short_name is an abbreviated textual name for the address component, if available. For example, an address component for the state of Alaska may have a long_name of "Alaska" and a short_name of "AK" using the 2-letter postal abbreviation.

    Note that address_components[] may contain more address components than noted within the formatted_address.

  • postcode_localities[] is an array denoting all the localities contained in a postal code. This is only present when the result is a postal code that contains multiple localities.
  • geometry contains the following information:

    • location contains the geocoded latitude,longitude value. For normal address lookups, this field is typically the most important.
    • location_type stores additional data about the specified location. The following values are currently supported:

      • "ROOFTOP" indicates that the returned result is a precise geocode for which we have location information accurate down to street address precision.
      • "RANGE_INTERPOLATED" indicates that the returned result reflects an approximation (usually on a road) interpolated between two precise points (such as intersections). Interpolated results are generally returned when rooftop geocodes are unavailable for a street address.
      • "GEOMETRIC_CENTER" indicates that the returned result is the geometric center of a result such as a polyline (for example, a street) or polygon (region).
      • "APPROXIMATE" indicates that the returned result is approximate.
    • viewport contains the recommended viewport for displaying the returned result, specified as two latitude,longitude values defining the southwest and northeast corner of the viewport bounding box. Generally the viewport is used to frame a result when displaying it to a user.
    • bounds (optionally returned) stores the bounding box which can fully contain the returned result. Note that these bounds may not match the recommended viewport. (For example, San Francisco includes the Farallon islands, which are technically part of the city, but probably should not be returned in the viewport.)
  • partial_match indicates that the geocoder did not return an exact match for the original request, though it was able to match part of the requested address. You may wish to examine the original request for misspellings and/or an incomplete address.

    Partial matches most often occur for street addresses that do not exist within the locality you pass in the request. Partial matches may also be returned when a request matches two or more locations in the same locality. For example, "21 Henr St, Bristol, UK" will return a partial match for both Henry Street and Henrietta Street. Note that if a request includes a misspelled address component, the geocoding service may suggest an alternate address. Suggestions triggered in this way will not be marked as a partial match.

As the exact format of an individual response to a Geocoding API request is not guaranteed, you should never assume that elements are in absolute positions. (In particular, the number of address_components within a Geocoding API response vary based on the address requested and can change over time.) Instead, you should parse the response and select appropriate values via expressions. See Parsing Web Service Responses for more information.

Address Types and Address Component Types

The types[] array in the result indicates the address type. Examples of address types include a street address, a country, or a political entity. There is also a types[] array in the address_components[], indicating the type of each part of the address. Examples include street number or country. (Below is a full list of types.) Addresses may have multiple types. The types may be considered 'tags'. For example, many cities are tagged with the political and the locality type.

The following types are supported and returned by the geocoder in both the address type and address component type arrays:

  • street_address indicates a precise street address.
  • route indicates a named route (such as "US 101").
  • intersection indicates a major intersection, usually of two major roads.
  • political indicates a political entity. Usually, this type indicates a polygon of some civil administration.
  • country indicates the national political entity, and is typically the highest order type returned by the Geocoder.
  • administrative_area_level_1 indicates a first-order civil entity below the country level. Within the United States, these administrative levels are states. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
  • administrative_area_level_2 indicates a second-order civil entity below the country level. Within the United States, these administrative levels are counties. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
  • administrative_area_level_3 indicates a third-order civil entity below the country level. This type indicates a minor civil division. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
  • colloquial_area indicates a commonly-used alternative name for the entity.
  • locality indicates an incorporated city or town political entity.
  • sublocality indicates a first-order civil entity below a locality. For some locations may receive one of the additional types: sublocality_level_1 through to sublocality_level_5. Each sublocality level is a civil entity. Larger numbers indicate a smaller geographic area.
  • neighborhood indicates a named neighborhood
  • premise indicates a named location, usually a building or collection of buildings with a common name
  • subpremise indicates a first-order entity below a named location, usually a singular building within a collection of buildings with a common name
  • postal_code indicates a postal code as used to address postal mail within the country.
  • natural_feature indicates a prominent natural feature.
  • airport indicates an airport.
  • park indicates a named park.
  • point_of_interest indicates a named point of interest. Typically, these "POI"s are prominent local entities that don't easily fit in another category such as "Empire State Building" or "Statue of Liberty."

An empty list of types indicates there are no known types for the particular address component, for instance Lieu-dit in France.

In addition to the above, address components may include the types below.

Note: This list is not exhaustive, and is subject to change.

  • floor indicates the floor of a building address.
  • establishment typically indicates a place that has not yet been categorized.
  • parking indicates a parking lot or parking structure.
  • post_box indicates a specific postal box.
  • postal_town indicates a grouping of geographic areas, such as locality and sublocality, used for mailing addresses in some countries.
  • room indicates the room of a building address.
  • street_number indicates the precise street number.
  • bus_station, train_station and transit_station indicate the location of a bus, train or public transit stop.

Viewport Biasing

In a geocoding request, you can instruct the Geocoding service to prefer results within a given viewport (expressed as a bounding box). You do so within the request URL by setting the bounds parameter. Note that biasing only prefers results within the bounds; if more relevant results exist outside of these bounds, they may be included.

The bounds parameter defines the latitude/longitude coordinates of the southwest and northeast corners of this bounding box using a pipe (|) character to separate the coordinates.

For example, a geocode for "Winnetka" generally returns this suburb of Chicago:

Request:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=Winnetka&sensor=false&key=API_KEY

Response:

{
  "status": "OK",
  "results": [ {
    "types": [ "locality", "political" ],
    "formatted_address": "Winnetka, IL, USA",
    "address_components": [ {
      "long_name": "Winnetka",
      "short_name": "Winnetka",
      "types": [ "locality", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "Illinois",
      "short_name": "IL",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "United States",
      "short_name": "US",
      "types": [ "country", "political" ]
    } ],
    "geometry": {
      "location": {
        "lat": 42.1083080,
        "lng": -87.7417070
      },
      "location_type": "APPROXIMATE",
      "viewport": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 42.0917501,
          "lng": -87.7737218
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 42.1248616,
          "lng": -87.7096922
        }
      },
      "bounds": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 42.0885320,
          "lng": -87.7715480
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 42.1284090,
          "lng": -87.7110160
        }
      }
    }
  } ]
}

However, adding a bounds argument defining a bounding box for the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles results in this geocode returning the neighborhood named "Winnetka" in that location:

Request:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=Winnetka&bounds=34.172684,-118.604794|34.236144,-118.500938&sensor=false&key=API_KEY

Response:

{
  "status": "OK",
  "results": [ {
    "types": [ "sublocality", "political" ],
    "formatted_address": "Winnetka, California, USA",
    "address_components": [ {
      "long_name": "Winnetka",
      "short_name": "Winnetka",
      "types": [ "sublocality", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "Los Angeles",
      "short_name": "Los Angeles",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_3", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "Los Angeles",
      "short_name": "Los Angeles",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_2", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "California",
      "short_name": "CA",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "United States",
      "short_name": "US",
      "types": [ "country", "political" ]
    } ],
    "geometry": {
      "location": {
        "lat": 34.2131710,
        "lng": -118.5710220
      },
      "location_type": "APPROXIMATE",
      "viewport": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 34.1947148,
          "lng": -118.6030368
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 34.2316232,
          "lng": -118.5390072
        }
      },
      "bounds": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 34.1791050,
          "lng": -118.5883200
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 34.2353090,
          "lng": -118.5534191
        }
      }
    }
  } ]
}

Region Biasing

In a geocoding response, the Google Geocoding API returns address results influenced by the region (typically the country) from which the request is sent. For example, searches for "San Francisco" may return different results if sent from a domain within the United States than one sent from Spain.

You can set the Geocoding API to return results biased to a particular region using the region parameter. This parameter takes a ccTLD (country code top-level domain) argument specifying the region bias. Most ccTLD codes are identical to ISO 3166-1 codes, with some notable exceptions. For example, the United Kingdom's ccTLD is "uk" (.co.uk) while its ISO 3166-1 code is "gb" (technically for the entity of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland").

Geocoding results can be biased for every domain in which the main Google Maps application is officially launched. Note that biasing only prefers results for a specific domain; if more relevant results exist outside of this domain, they may be included.

For example, a geocode for "Toledo" returns this result, as the default domain for the Geocoding API is set to the United States:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=Toledo&sensor=false&key=API_KEY
# Returns:
#
{
  "status": "OK",
  "results": [ {
    "types": [ "locality", "political" ],
    "formatted_address": "Toledo, OH, USA",
    "address_components": [ {
      "long_name": "Toledo",
      "short_name": "Toledo",
      "types": [ "locality", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "Ohio",
      "short_name": "OH",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "United States",
      "short_name": "US",
      "types": [ "country", "political" ]
    } ],
    "geometry": {
      "location": {
        "lat": 41.6529200,
        "lng": -83.5777820
      },
      "location_type": "APPROXIMATE",
      "viewport": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 41.5861889,
          "lng": -83.7058414
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 41.7195821,
          "lng": -83.4497226
        }
      },
      "bounds": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 41.5803170,
          "lng": -83.6947540
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 41.7326310,
          "lng": -83.4545660
        }
      }
    }
  } ]
}

A geocode for "Toledo" with region=es (Spain) will return the Spanish city:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=Toledo&sensor=false&region=es&key=API_KEY
#
# Returns
#
{
  "status": "OK",
  "results": [ {
    "types": [ "locality", "political" ],
    "formatted_address": "Toledo, España",
    "address_components": [ {
      "long_name": "Toledo",
      "short_name": "Toledo",
      "types": [ "locality", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "Toledo",
      "short_name": "TO",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_2", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "Castilla-La Mancha",
      "short_name": "CM",
      "types": [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
    }, {
      "long_name": "España",
      "short_name": "ES",
      "types": [ "country", "political" ]
    } ],
    "geometry": {
      "location": {
        "lat": 39.8567775,
        "lng": -4.0244759
      },
      "location_type": "APPROXIMATE",
      "viewport": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 39.7882200,
          "lng": -4.1525353
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 39.9252666,
          "lng": -3.8964165
        }
      },
      "bounds": {
        "southwest": {
          "lat": 39.8105550,
          "lng": -4.1796354
        },
        "northeast": {
          "lat": 39.9250920,
          "lng": -3.8147915
        }
      }
    }
  } ]
}

Component Filtering

In a geocoding response, the Google Geocoding API can return address results restricted to a specific area. The restriction is specified using the components filter. A filter consists of a list of component:value pairs separated by a pipe (|). Only the results that match all the filters will be returned. Filter values support the same methods of spelling correction and partial matching as other geocoding requests. If a geocoding result is a partial match for a component filter it will contain a partial_match field in the response.

The components that can be filtered include:

  • route matches long or short name of a route.
  • locality matches against both locality and sublocality types.
  • administrative_area matches all the administrative_area levels.
  • postal_code matches postal_code and postal_code_prefix.
  • country matches a country name or a two letter ISO 3166-1 country code.

Note: Each address component can only be specified either in the address parameter or as a component filter, but not both. Doing so may result in ZERO_RESULTS. Countries and administrative areas of level 1 are exempted from this.

A geocode for "Santa Cruz" with components=country:ES will return Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Canary Islands, Spain:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=santa+cruz&components=country:ES&sensor=false&key=API_KEY
#
# Returns
#
{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "Santa Cruz de Tenerife",
               "short_name" : "Santa Cruz de Tenerife",
               "types" : [ "locality", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Santa Cruz de Tenerife",
               "short_name" : "TF",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_2", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Canarias",
               "short_name" : "CN",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Spain",
               "short_name" : "ES",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain",
         "geometry" : {
            "bounds" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 28.58939290,
                  "lng" : -16.11936290
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 28.40976910,
                  "lng" : -16.34359460
               }
            },
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 28.469810,
               "lng" : -16.25485580
            },
            "location_type" : "APPROXIMATE",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 28.58939290,
                  "lng" : -16.11936290
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 28.40976910,
                  "lng" : -16.34359460
               }
            }
         },
         "types" : [ "locality", "political" ]
      }
   ],
   "status" : "OK"
}

A query containing a component filter will only return the geocoding results that match the filter. If no matches are found, the geocoder will return a result that matches the filter itself.

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=Torun&components=administrative_area:TX|country:US&sensor=false&key=API_KEY
#
# Returns
#
{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "Texas",
               "short_name" : "TX",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "United States",
               "short_name" : "US",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "Texas, USA",
         "geometry" : {
            "bounds" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 36.5007040,
                  "lng" : -93.50803900000001
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 25.83716390,
                  "lng" : -106.6456460
               }
            },
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 31.96859880,
               "lng" : -99.90181310
            },
            "location_type" : "APPROXIMATE",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 36.68395670,
                  "lng" : -91.70601210
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 26.99809190,
                  "lng" : -108.09761410
               }
            }
         },
         "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
      }
   ],
   "status" : "OK"
}

Component filtering will return a ZERO_RESULTS response only if you provide filters that exclude each other.

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?components=administrative_area:TX|country:FR&sensor=false&key=API_KEY
#
# Returns
#
{
   "results" : [],
   "status" : "ZERO_RESULTS"
}

Using the components filter it is possible to make a query without the address parameter, but you cannot specify a component without a value.

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?components=route:Annegatan|administrative_area:Helsinki|country:Finland&sensor=false&key=API_KEY
#
# Returns
#
{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "Annegatan",
               "short_name" : "Annegatan",
               "types" : [ "route" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Helsinki",
               "short_name" : "Helsinki",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_3", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Finland",
               "short_name" : "FI",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "Annegatan, Helsinki, Finland",
         "geometry" : {
            "bounds" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 60.17088090,
                  "lng" : 24.94279590
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 60.16266270,
                  "lng" : 24.93114440
               }
            },
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 60.16693210,
               "lng" : 24.93683020
            },
            "location_type" : "GEOMETRIC_CENTER",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 60.17088090,
                  "lng" : 24.94279590
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 60.16266270,
                  "lng" : 24.93114440
               }
            }
         },
         "types" : [ "route" ]
      }
   ],
   "status" : "OK"
}

Reverse Geocoding (Address Lookup)

The term geocoding generally refers to translating a human-readable address into a location on a map. The process of doing the opposite, translating a location on the map into a human-readable address, is known as reverse geocoding.

The Geocoding API supports reverse geocoding directly using the latlng parameter.

Required parameters in a reverse geocoding request:

  • latlng — The textual latitude/longitude value for which you wish to obtain the closest, human-readable address.
  • sensor — Indicates whether or not the geocoding request comes from a device with a location sensor. This value must be either true or false.

Optional parameters in a reverse geocoding request:

These are the optional parameters that you can include in a reverse geocoding request:

  • key — Your application's API key, obtained from the APIs Console. This key identifies your application for purposes of quota management.
  • language — The language in which to return results. See the list of supported domain languages. Note that we often update supported languages so this list may not be exhaustive. If language is not supplied, the geocoder will attempt to use the native language of the domain from which the request is sent wherever possible.
  • result_type — One or more address types, separated by a pipe (|). Examples of address types: country, street_address, postal_code. For a full list of allowable values, see the address types on this page. Specifying a type will restrict the results to this type. If multiple types are specified, the API will return all addresses that match any of the types. Note: This parameter is available only for requests that include an API key or a client ID.
  • location_type — One or more location types, separated by a pipe (|). Specifying a type will restrict the results to this type. If multiple types are specified, the API will return all addresses that match any of the types. Note: This parameter is available only for requests that include an API key or a client ID. The following values are supported:
    • "ROOFTOP" restricts the results to addresses for which we have location information accurate down to street address precision.
    • "RANGE_INTERPOLATED" restricts the results to those that reflect an approximation (usually on a road) interpolated between two precise points (such as intersections). An interpolated range generally indicates that rooftop geocodes are unavailable for a street address.
    • "GEOMETRIC_CENTER" restricts the results to geometric centers of a location such as a polyline (for example, a street) or polygon (region).
    • "APPROXIMATE" restricts the results to those that are characterized as approximate.

If both result_type and location_type restrictions are present then the API will return only those results that matches both the result_type and the location_type restrictions.

Example of Reverse Geocoding

The following query contains the latitude/longitude value for a location in Brooklyn:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?latlng=40.714224,-73.961452&sensor=true_or_false&key=API_KEY

Note: Ensure that no space exists between the latitude and longitude values when passed in the latlng parameter.

The above query returns the following result:

{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "277",
               "short_name" : "277",
               "types" : [ "street_number" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Bedford Avenue",
               "short_name" : "Bedford Ave",
               "types" : [ "route" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Williamsburg",
               "short_name" : "Williamsburg",
               "types" : [ "neighborhood", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Brooklyn",
               "short_name" : "Brooklyn",
               "types" : [ "sublocality", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Kings",
               "short_name" : "Kings",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_2", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "New York",
               "short_name" : "NY",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "United States",
               "short_name" : "US",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "11211",
               "short_name" : "11211",
               "types" : [ "postal_code" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "277 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
         "geometry" : {
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 40.714232,
               "lng" : -73.9612889
            },
            "location_type" : "ROOFTOP",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 40.7155809802915,
                  "lng" : -73.9599399197085
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 40.7128830197085,
                  "lng" : -73.96263788029151
               }
            }
         },
         "types" : [ "street_address" ]
      },

  ... Additional results[] ...

Note that the reverse geocoder returned more than one result. The "formatted_address" results are not just postal addresses, but any way to geographically name a location. For example, when geocoding a point in the city of Chicago, the geocoded point may be denoted as a street address, as the city (Chicago), as its state (Illinois) or as a country (The United States). All are "addresses" to the geocoder. The reverse geocoder returns any of these types as valid results.

The reverse geocoder matches political entities (countries, provinces, cities and neighborhoods), street addresses, and postal codes.

The full list of formatted_address values returned by the previous query is shown below.

"formatted_address" : "277 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Grand St/Bedford Av, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Grand St/Bedford Av, Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Bedford Av/Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Brooklyn, NY, USA",
"formatted_address" : "New York, NY, USA",
"formatted_address" : "New York, USA",
"formatted_address" : "United States",

Generally, addresses are returned from most specific to least specific; the more exact address is the most prominent result, as it is in this case. Note that we return different types of addresses, from the most specific street address to less specific political entities such as neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, etc. If you wish to match a specific type of address, see the section below on restricting results by type.

Note: Reverse geocoding is an estimate. The geocoder will attempt to find the closest addressable location within a certain tolerance. If no match is found, the geocoder will return zero results.

Reverse Geocoding Restricted by Type

The following example restricts the addresses returned to those with a location type of ROOFTOP and an address type of street_address.

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?latlng=40.714224,-73.961452&sensor=false&location_type=ROOFTOP&result_type=street_address&key=API_KEY

Reverse Geocoding Responses

The format of the reverse geocoding response is the same as the geocoding response. See Geocoding Responses. Below are the status codes possible in a reverse geocoding response.

Reverse Geocoding Status Codes

The "status" field within the Geocoding response object contains the status of the request, and may contain debugging information to help you track down why reverse geocoding is not working. The "status" field may contain the following values:

  • "OK" indicates that no errors occurred and at least one address was returned.
  • "ZERO_RESULTS" indicates that the reverse geocoding was successful but returned no results. This may occur if the geocoder was passed a latlng in a remote location.
  • "OVER_QUERY_LIMIT" indicates that you are over your quota.
  • "REQUEST_DENIED" indicates that the request was denied. Possible causes include:
    • The sensor parameter is missing.
    • The request includes a result_type or location_type parameter but does not include an API key or client ID.
  • "INVALID_REQUEST" generally indicates one of the following:
    • The query (address, components or latlng) is missing.
    • An invalid result_type or location_type was given.
  • "UNKNOWN_ERROR" indicates that the request could not be processed due to a server error. The request may succeed if you try again.

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