What is a mapcode?
A mapcode represents a location. Every location on Earth can be represented by a mapcode. Mapcodes were designed to be short, easy to recognise, remember and communicate. They are precise to a few meters, which is good enough for every-day use.
Mapcodes are free!
Mapcodes are free. They can be used by anyone, and may be supported, provided or generated by anyone, as long as this is done free of charge, conditions or restrictions. Technical details and sources are available on our Developers page.
What does a mapcode look like?
A mapcode consists of two groups of letters and digits, separated by a dot.
An example of a mapcode (in Amsterdam) is:
This short code is sufficient as long as it is clear what country or state the mapcode belongs in (in this case, The Netherlands).
On a business card, it is therefore a good idea to put it after the country or state name:
Mr. John Smith
When storing mapcodes in a database, it is recommended to explicitly specify the country:
Or using the ISO standard 3-letter abbreviation:
In eight very large countries (USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, Australia, Russia, and China) an address has little meaning without knowing the state (just like elsewhere, an address has little meaning without knowing the country).
For example, there are 27 cities called Washington in the USA. If you want to refer to a location in the capital city, you would always refer to Washington DC.
Or (in an international context, which requires the country as well as state):
More information on mapcodes and their underlying concepts can be found in our reference material.
Where did mapcodes come from?
Mapcodes were developed in 2001 by Pieter Geelen and Harold Goddijn, soon after the GPS satellite signals were opened up for civilian use. It was decided to donate the mapcode system to the public domain in 2008. The algorithms and data tables are maintained by the Mapcode Foundation.
The mapcode system is currently being filed as a standard at the International Organisation for Standardisation.
Downloads for smartphones
Of course, any web-capable phone can make use of our "mobile" webpages. Recently, some dedicated mapcode "apps" have been released:
A free iOS app Mapcode Finder is now available:
A free Android app Mapcode Mobile is also available: