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INSPIRE Data Specification for the spatial data theme Geographical names

Licence: Other
Published on: 09/07/2020

This data specification describes concepts related with geographical names, i.e. proper noun applied to a natural, man-made or cultural real world entity. The data specification is guided by the Multilanguage and multi-scriptual situation in Europe: a geographic entity can have different names in one or several languages, and each name can have different spellings, i.e. spellings in different scripts.


The purpose of this document is to specify a harmonised data specification for the spatial data theme Geographical names as defined in the INSPIRE Directive.

Typically, geographical names may be useful:

  • As search criteria (location), e.g. in a geoportal, for rescue services, geocoding, geoparsing and navigation.
  • As geographical identifiers, e.g. in gazetteer services.
  • For visualisation, e.g. as information layer in viewing services.
  • In standardisation, translation, and compilation of maps, reports, documents and articles. For instance, reliable information on the correct spelling and the status of names is required by press agencies and map producers.
  • For the processing of spatial data sets, e.g. for integration of historical data.
  • In human and social science, e.g. in linguistic research, onomastic science, archaeology and etymology.


This guideline describes the INSPIRE Data Specification on Geographical names as developed by the Thematic Working Group Geographical Names using both natural and a conceptual schema languages. The data specification is based on the agreed common INSPIRE data specification template.

Long description

Because of this multi-language and multi-scriptual context, this specification defines a product that is feature oriented in order to enable to express which different names are used to designate one given place. In other words, the spatial objects defined in this specification are the ‘named places’, and the ‘geographical names’ are seen as information related to a named place. However, the product focuses on the description of names rather than the description of spatial objects: it particularly describes characteristics of names like their language and spellings in different scripts. In some cases names can be applied as attributes of appropriately modelled spatial objects in other themes defined by INSPIRE. However, often the definition, classification, geometry and other attributes of these objects do not necessary correspond with the respective named places as defined by this data specification, which focuses on the names aspects. Besides, commonly named geographic entities such as elevations, islands or coastal land formations are seldom modelled as objects in other themes, while they are modelled as named places in this specification.

Known implementation

The whole known implementation of Inspire is available at:


History / Key milestones

The Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council adopted on 14 March 2007 aims at establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) for environmental policies, or policies and activities that have an impact on the environment.