Importing the Database
The following instructions explain how to create a Nominatim database from an OSM planet file and how to keep the database up to date. It is assumed that you have already successfully installed the Nominatim software itself, if not return to the installation page.
Configuration setup in settings/local.php
The Nominatim server can be customized via the file
in the build directory. Note that this is a PHP file, so it must always
start like this:
without any leading spaces.
There are lots of configuration settings you can tweak. Have a look
settings/default.php for a full list. Most should have a sensible default.
If you plan to import a large dataset (e.g. Europe, North America, planet),
you should also enable flatnode storage of node locations. With this
setting enabled, node coordinates are stored in a simple file instead
of the database. This will save you import time and disk storage.
Add to your
Replace the second part with a suitable path on your system and make sure the directory exists. There should be at least 64GB of free space.
Downloading additional data
Wikipedia can be used as an optional auxiliary data source to help indicate the importance of OSM features. Nominatim will work without this information but it will improve the quality of the results if this is installed. This data is available as a binary download:
cd $NOMINATIM_SOURCE_DIR/data wget https://www.nominatim.org/data/wikimedia-importance.sql.gz
The file is about 400MB and adds around 4GB to Nominatim database.
If you forgot to download the wikipedia rankings, you can also add
importances after the import. Download the files, then run
Great Britain, USA postcodes
Nominatim can use postcodes from an external source to improve searches that involve a GB or US postcode. This data can be optionally downloaded:
cd $NOMINATIM_SOURCE_DIR/data wget https://www.nominatim.org/data/gb_postcode_data.sql.gz wget https://www.nominatim.org/data/us_postcode_data.sql.gz
Choosing the Data to Import
In its default setup Nominatim is configured to import the full OSM data set for the entire planet. Such a setup requires a powerful machine with at least 64GB of RAM and around 800GB of SSD hard disks. Depending on your use case there are various ways to reduce the amount of data imported. This section discusses these methods. They can also be combined.
Using an extract
If you only need geocoding for a smaller region, then precomputed extracts are a good way to reduce the database size and import time. Geofabrik offers extracts for most countries. They even have daily updates which can be used with the update process described below. There are also other providers for extracts.
Please be aware that some extracts are not cut exactly along the country boundaries. As a result some parts of the boundary may be missing which means that Nominatim cannot compute the areas for some administrative areas.
Dropping Data Required for Dynamic Updates
About half of the data in Nominatim's database is not really used for serving the API. It is only there to allow the data to be updated from the latest changes from OSM. For many uses these dynamic updates are not really required. If you don't plan to apply updates, the dynamic part of the database can be safely dropped using the following command:
Note that you still need to provide for sufficient disk space for the initial import. So this option is particularly interesting if you plan to transfer the database or reuse the space later.
If you only want to use the Nominatim database for reverse lookups or
if you plan to use the installation only for exports to a
photon database, then you can set up a database
without search indexes. Add
--reverse-only to your setup command above.
This saves about 5% of disk space.
Filtering Imported Data
Nominatim normally sets up a full search database containing administrative boundaries, places, streets, addresses and POI data. There are also other import styles available which only read selected data:
- settings/import-admin.style Only import administrative boundaries and places.
- settings/import-street.style Like the admin style but also adds streets.
- settings/import-address.style Import all data necessary to compute addresses down to house number level.
- settings/import-full.style Default style that also includes points of interest.
- settings/import-extratags.style Like the full style but also adds most of the OSM tags into the extratags column.
The style can be changed with the configuration
To give you an idea of the impact of using the different styles, the table
below gives rough estimates of the final database size after import of a
2018 planet and after using the
--drop option. It also shows the time
needed for the import on a machine with 64GB RAM, 4 CPUS and SSDs. Note that
the given sizes are just an estimate meant for comparison of style requirements.
Your planet import is likely to be larger as the OSM data grows with time.
|style||Import time||DB size||after drop|
|admin||5h||190 GB||20 GB|
|street||42h||400 GB||180 GB|
|address||59h||500 GB||260 GB|
|full||80h||575 GB||300 GB|
|extratags||80h||585 GB||310 GB|
You can also customize the styles further. For a description of the style format see the development section.
Initial import of the data
First try the import with a small extract, for example from Geofabrik.
Download the data to import and load the data with the following command from the build directory:
./utils/setup.php --osm-file <data file> --all 2>&1 | tee setup.log
Note for full planet imports: Even on a perfectly configured machine
the import of a full planet takes at least 2 days. Once you see messages
Rank .. ETA appear, the indexing process has started. This part takes
the most time. There are 30 ranks to process. Rank 26 and 30 are the most complex.
They take each about a third of the total import time. If you have not reached
rank 26 after two days of import, it is worth revisiting your system
configuration as it may not be optimal for the import.
Notes on memory usage
In the first step of the import Nominatim uses osm2pgsql to load the OSM data
into the PostgreSQL database. This step is very demanding in terms of RAM usage.
osm2pgsql and PostgreSQL are running in parallel at this point. PostgreSQL
blocks at least the part of RAM that has been configured with the
shared_buffers parameter during PostgreSQL tuning
and needs some memory on top of that. osm2pgsql needs at least 2GB of RAM for
its internal data structures, potentially more when it has to process very large
relations. In addition it needs to maintain a cache for node locations. The size
of this cache can be configured with the parameter
When importing with a flatnode file, it is best to disable the node cache completely and leave the memory for the flatnode file. Nominatim will do this by default, so you do not need to configure anything in this case.
For imports without a flatnode file, set
--osm2pgsql-cache approximately to
the size of the OSM pbf file (in MB) you are importing. Make sure you leave
enough RAM for PostgreSQL and osm2pgsql as mentioned above. If the system starts
swapping or you are getting out-of-memory errors, reduce the cache size or
even consider using a flatnode file.
Verify import finished
Run this script to verify all required tables and indices got created successfully.
Tuning the database
Accurate word frequency information for search terms helps PostgreSQL's query planner to make the right decisions. Recomputing them can improve the performance of forward geocoding in particular under high load. To recompute word counts run:
This will take a couple of hours for a full planet installation. You can also defer that step to a later point in time when you realise that performance becomes an issue. Just make sure that updates are stopped before running this function.
If you want to be able to search for places by their type through special key phrases you also need to enable these key phrases like this:
./utils/specialphrases.php --wiki-import > specialphrases.sql psql -d nominatim -f specialphrases.sql
Note that this command downloads the phrases from the wiki link above. You need internet access for the step.
Installing Tiger housenumber data for the US
Nominatim is able to use the official TIGER address set to complement the OSM house number data in the US. You can add TIGER data to your own Nominatim instance by following these steps. The entire US adds about 10GB to your database.
Get preprocessed TIGER 2019 data and unpack it into the data directory in your Nominatim sources:
cd Nominatim/data wget https://nominatim.org/data/tiger2019-nominatim-preprocessed.tar.gz tar xf tiger2019-nominatim-preprocessed.tar.gz
data-source/us-tiger/README.mdexplains how the data got preprocessed.
Import the data into your Nominatim database:
Enable use of the Tiger data in your
Apply the new settings:
./utils/setup.php --create-functions --enable-diff-updates --create-partition-functions