Importing and Updating 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 settings/local.php 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 at settings/default.php for a full list. Most should have a sensible default.

Flatnode files

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 settings/local.php:

@define('CONST_Osm2pgsql_Flatnode_File', '/path/to/flatnode.file');

Replace the second part with a suitable path on your system and make sure the directory exists. There should be at least 40GB of free space.

Downloading additional data

Wikipedia rankings

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:


Combined the 2 files are around 1.5GB and add around 30GB to the install size of nominatim. They also increase the install time by an hour or so.

NOTE: you'll need to download the Wikipedia rankings before performing the initial import of the data if you want the rankings applied to the loaded data.

UK postcodes

Nominatim can use postcodes from an external source to improve searches that involve a UK postcode. This data can be optionally downloaded:


Initial import of the data

Important: first try the import with a small excerpt, for example from Geofabrik.

Download the data to import and load the data with the following command:

./utils/setup.php --osm-file <data file> --all [--osm2pgsql-cache 28000] 2>&1 | tee setup.log

The --osm2pgsql-cache parameter is optional but strongly recommended for planet imports. It sets the node cache size for the osm2pgsql import part (see -C parameter in osm2pgsql help). As a rule of thumb, this should be about the same size as the file you are importing but never more than 2/3 of RAM available. If your machine starts swapping reduce the size.

Computing word frequency for search terms can improve the performance of forward geocoding in particular under high load as it helps Postgres' query planner to make the right decisions. To recompute word counts run:

./utils/update.php --recompute-word-counts

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.

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:

  1. Install the GDAL library and python bindings and the unzip tool

    • Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install python-gdal unzip
    • CentOS: sudo yum install gdal-python unzip
  2. Get preprocessed TIGER 2017 data and unpack it into the data directory in your Nominatim sources:

    cd Nominatim/data
    tar xf tiger2017-nominatim-preprocessed.tar.gz
  3. Import the data into your Nominatim database:

    ./utils/setup.php --import-tiger-data
  4. Enable use of the Tiger data in your settings/local.php by adding:

     @define('CONST_Use_US_Tiger_Data', true);
  5. Apply the new settings:

    ./utils/setup.php --create-functions --enable-diff-updates --create-partition-functions

The entire US adds about 10GB to your database.

You can also process the data from the original TIGER data to create the SQL files, Nominatim needs for the import:

  1. Get the TIGER 2017 data. You will need the EDGES files (3,234 zip files, 11GB total).

     wget -r
  2. Convert the data into SQL statements:

     ./utils/imports.php --parse-tiger <tiger edge data directory>

Be warned that this can take quite a long time. After this process is finished, the same preprocessed files as above are available in data/tiger.


There are many different possibilities to update your Nominatim database. The following section describes how to keep it up-to-date with Pyosmium. For a list of other methods see the output of ./utils/update.php --help.

Installing the newest version of Pyosmium

It is recommended to install Pyosmium via pip. Run (as the same user who will later run the updates):

pip install --user osmium

Nominatim needs a tool called pyosmium-get-updates, which comes with Pyosmium. You need to tell Nominatim where to find it. Add the following line to your settings/local.php:

@define('CONST_Pyosmium_Binary', '/home/user/.local/bin/pyosmium-get-changes');

The path above is fine if you used the --user parameter with pip. Replace user with your user name.

Setting up the update process

Next the update needs to be initialised. By default Nominatim is configured to update using the global minutely diffs.

If you want a different update source you will need to add some settings to settings/local.php. For example, to use the daily country extracts diffs for Ireland from geofabrik add the following:

// base URL of the replication service
@define('CONST_Replication_Url', '');
// How often upstream publishes diffs
@define('CONST_Replication_Update_Interval', '86400');
// How long to sleep if no update found yet
@define('CONST_Replication_Recheck_Interval', '900');

To set up the update process now run the following command:

./utils/update.php --init-updates

It outputs the date where updates will start. Recheck that this date is what you expect.

The --init-updates command needs to be rerun whenever the replication service is changed.

Updating Nominatim

The following command will keep your database constantly up to date:

./utils/update.php --import-osmosis-all

(Note that even though the old name "import-osmosis-all" has been kept for compatibility reasons, Osmosis is not required to run this - it uses pyosmium behind the scenes.)

If you have imported multiple country extracts and want to keep them up-to-date, have a look at the script in issue #60.