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Advanced installations

This page contains instructions for setting up multiple countries in your Nominatim database. It is assumed that you have already successfully installed the Nominatim software itself, if not return to the installation page.

Importing with a database user without superuser rights

Nominatim usually creates its own PostgreSQL database at the beginning of the import process. This makes usage easier for the user but means that the database user doing the import needs the appropriate rights.

If you prefer to run the import with a database user with limited rights, you can do so by changing the import process as follows:

  1. Run the command for database preparation with a database user with superuser rights. For example, to use a db user 'dbadmin' for a database 'nominatim', execute:
NOMINATIM_DATABASE_DSN="pgsql:dbname=nominatim;user=dbadmin" nominatim import --prepare-database
  1. Grant the import user the right to create tables. For example, foe user 'import-user':
psql -d nominatim -c 'GRANT CREATE ON SCHEMA public TO "import-user"'
  1. Now run the reminder of the import with the import user:
NOMINATIM_DATABASE_DSN="pgsql:dbname=nominatim;user=import-user" nominatim import --continue import-from-file --osm-file file.pbf

Importing multiple regions (without updates)

To import multiple regions in your database you can simply give multiple OSM files to the import command:

nominatim import --osm-file file1.pbf --osm-file file2.pbf

If you already have imported a file and want to add another one, you can use the add-data function to import the additional data as follows:

nominatim add-data --file <FILE>
nominatim refresh --postcodes
nominatim index -j <NUMBER OF THREADS>

Please note that adding additional data is always significantly slower than the original import.

Importing multiple regions (with updates)

If you want to import multiple regions and be able to keep them up-to-date with updates, then you can use the scripts provided in the utils directory.

These scripts will set up an update directory in your project directory, which has the following structure:

 ├── europe
     ├── andorra
         └── sequence.state
     └── monaco
          └── sequence.state
 └── tmp
      └── europe
           ├── andorra-latest.osm.pbf
           └── monaco-latest.osm.pbf

The sequence.state files contain the sequence ID for each region. They will be used by pyosmium to get updates. The tmp folder is used for import dump and can be deleted once the import is complete.

Setting up multiple regions

Create a project directory as described for the simple import. If necessary, you can also add an .env configuration with customized options. In particular, you need to make sure that NOMINATIM_REPLICATION_UPDATE_INTERVAL and NOMINATIM_REPLICATION_RECHECK_INTERVAL are set according to the update interval of the extract server you use.

Copy the scripts utils/ and utils/ into the project directory.

Now customize both files as per your requirements

  1. List of countries. e.g.

    COUNTRIES="europe/monaco europe/andorra"
  2. URL to the service providing the extracts and updates. eg:

  3. Followup in the update script can be set according to your installation. E.g. for Photon,

    FOLLOWUP="curl http://localhost:2322/nominatim-update"

    will handle the indexing.

To start the initial import, change into the project directory and run


Updating the database

Change into the project directory and run the following command:


This will get diffs from the replication server, import diffs and index the database. The default replication server in the script (Geofabrik) provides daily updates.

Using an external PostgreSQL database

You can install Nominatim using a database that runs on a different server when you have physical access to the file system on the other server. Nominatim uses a custom normalization library that needs to be made accessible to the PostgreSQL server. This section explains how to set up the normalization library.


The external module is only needed when using the legacy tokenizer. If you have chosen the ICU tokenizer, then you can ignore this section and follow the standard import documentation.

Option 1: Compiling the library on the database server

The most sure way to get a working library is to compile it on the database server. From the prerequisites you need at least cmake, gcc and the PostgreSQL server package.

Clone or unpack the Nominatim source code, enter the source directory and create and enter a build directory.

cd Nominatim
mkdir build
cd build

Now configure cmake to only build the PostgreSQL module and build it:


When done, you find the normalization library in build/module/ Copy it to a place where it is readable and executable by the PostgreSQL server process.

Option 2: Compiling the library on the import machine

You can also compile the normalization library on the machine from where you run the import.


You can only do this when the database server and the import machine have the same architecture and run the same version of Linux. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the compiled library is compatible with the PostgreSQL server running on the database server.

Make sure that the PostgreSQL server package is installed on the machine with the same version as on the database server. You do not need to install the PostgreSQL server itself.

Download and compile Nominatim as per standard instructions. Once done, you find the normalization library in build/module/ Copy the file to the database server at a location where it is readable and executable by the PostgreSQL server process.

Running the import

On the client side you now need to configure the import to point to the correct location of the library on the database server. Add the following line to your your .env file:

NOMINATIM_DATABASE_MODULE_PATH="<directory on the database server where resides>"

Now change the NOMINATIM_DATABASE_DSN to point to your remote server and continue to follow the standard instructions for importing.

Moving the database to another machine

For some configurations it may be useful to run the import on one machine, then move the database to another machine and run the Nominatim service from there. For example, you might want to use a large machine to be able to run the import quickly but only want a smaller machine for production because there is not so much load. Or you might want to do the import once and then replicate the database to many machines.

The important thing to keep in mind when transferring the Nominatim installation is that you need to transfer the database and the project directory. Both parts are essential for your installation.

The Nominatim database can be transferred using the pg_dump/pg_restore tool. Make sure to use the same version of PostgreSQL and PostGIS on source and target machine.


Before creating a dump of your Nominatim database, consider running nominatim freeze first. Your database looses the ability to receive further data updates but the resulting database is only about a third of the size of a full database.

Next install Nominatim on the target machine by following the standard installation instructions. Again, make sure to use the same version as the source machine.

Create a project directory on your destination machine and set up the .env file to match the configuration on the source machine. Finally run

nominatim refresh --website

to make sure that the local installation of Nominatim will be used.

If you are using the legacy tokenizer you might also have to switch to the PostgreSQL module that was compiled on your target machine. If you get errors that PostgreSQL cannot find or access then rerun

nominatim refresh --functions

on the target machine to update the the location of the module.