Reverse geocoding (address lookup) request and response

The term geocoding generally refers to translating a human-readable address into a location on a map. The process of doing the opposite, translating a location on the map into a human-readable address, is known as reverse geocoding.

Reverse geocoding requests

Required parameters

  • latlng — The latitude and longitude values specifying the location for which you wish to obtain the closest, human-readable address.
  • key — Your application's API key. This key identifies your application for purposes of quota management. Learn how to get a key.

Optional parameters

These are the optional parameters that you can include in a reverse geocoding request:

  • language — The language in which to return results.
    • See the list of supported languages. Google often updates the supported languages, so this list may not be exhaustive.
    • If language is not supplied, the geocoder attempts to use the preferred language as specified in the Accept-Language header, or the native language of the domain from which the request is sent.
    • The geocoder does its best to provide a street address that is readable for both the user and locals. To achieve that goal, it returns street addresses in the local language, transliterated to a script readable by the user if necessary, observing the preferred language. All other addresses are returned in the preferred language. Address components are all returned in the same language, which is chosen from the first component.
    • If a name is not available in the preferred language, the geocoder uses the closest match.
  • result_type — A filter of one or more address types, separated by a pipe (|). If the parameter contains multiple address types, the API returns all addresses that match any of the types. A note about processing: The result_type parameter does not restrict the search to the specified address type(s). Rather, the result_type acts as a post-search filter: the API fetches all results for the specified latlng, then discards those results that do not match the specified address type(s).The following values are supported:
    • street_address indicates a precise street address.
    • route indicates a named route (such as "US 101").
    • intersection indicates a major intersection, usually of two major roads.
    • political indicates a political entity. Usually, this type indicates a polygon of some civil administration.
    • country indicates the national political entity, and is typically the highest order type returned by the Geocoder.
    • administrative_area_level_1 indicates a first-order civil entity below the country level. Within the United States, these administrative levels are states. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels. In most cases, administrative_area_level_1 short names will closely match ISO 3166-2 subdivisions and other widely circulated lists; however this is not guaranteed as our geocoding results are based on a variety of signals and location data.
    • administrative_area_level_2 indicates a second-order civil entity below the country level. Within the United States, these administrative levels are counties. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
    • administrative_area_level_3 indicates a third-order civil entity below the country level. This type indicates a minor civil division. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
    • administrative_area_level_4 indicates a fourth-order civil entity below the country level. This type indicates a minor civil division. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
    • administrative_area_level_5 indicates a fifth-order civil entity below the country level. This type indicates a minor civil division. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
    • administrative_area_level_6 indicates a sixth-order civil entity below the country level. This type indicates a minor civil division. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
    • administrative_area_level_7 indicates a seventh-order civil entity below the country level. This type indicates a minor civil division. Not all nations exhibit these administrative levels.
    • colloquial_area indicates a commonly-used alternative name for the entity.
    • locality indicates an incorporated city or town political entity.
    • sublocality indicates a first-order civil entity below a locality. For some locations may receive one of the additional types: sublocality_level_1 to sublocality_level_5. Each sublocality level is a civil entity. Larger numbers indicate a smaller geographic area.
    • neighborhood indicates a named neighborhood
    • premise indicates a named location, usually a building or collection of buildings with a common name
    • subpremise indicates a first-order entity below a named location, usually a singular building within a collection of buildings with a common name
    • plus_code indicates an encoded location reference, derived from latitude and longitude. Plus codes can be used as a replacement for street addresses in places where they do not exist (where buildings are not numbered or streets are not named). See https://plus.codes for details.
    • postal_code indicates a postal code as used to address postal mail within the country.
    • natural_feature indicates a prominent natural feature.
    • airport indicates an airport.
    • park indicates a named park.
    • point_of_interest indicates a named point of interest. Typically, these "POI"s are prominent local entities that don't easily fit in another category, such as "Empire State Building" or "Eiffel Tower".
  • location_type — A filter of one or more location types, separated by a pipe (|). If the parameter contains multiple location types, the API returns all addresses that match any of the types. A note about processing: The location_type parameter does not restrict the search to the specified location type(s). Rather, the location_type acts as a post-search filter: the API fetches all results for the specified latlng, then discards those results that do not match the specified location type(s). The following values are supported:
    • "ROOFTOP" returns only the addresses for which Google has location information accurate down to street address precision.
    • "RANGE_INTERPOLATED" returns only the addresses that reflect an approximation (usually on a road) interpolated between two precise points (such as intersections). An interpolated range generally indicates that rooftop geocodes are unavailable for a street address.
    • "GEOMETRIC_CENTER" returns only geometric centers of a location such as a polyline (for example, a street) or polygon (region).
    • "APPROXIMATE" returns only the addresses that are characterized as approximate.

If both result_type and location_type filters are present then the API returns only those results that match both the result_type and the location_type values. If none of the filter values are acceptable, the API returns ZERO_RESULTS.

Example of reverse geocoding

The following query contains the latitude/longitude value for a location in Brooklyn:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?latlng=40.714224,-73.961452&key=YOUR_API_KEY

The above query returns the following result:

{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "277",
               "short_name" : "277",
               "types" : [ "street_number" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Bedford Avenue",
               "short_name" : "Bedford Ave",
               "types" : [ "route" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Williamsburg",
               "short_name" : "Williamsburg",
               "types" : [ "neighborhood", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Brooklyn",
               "short_name" : "Brooklyn",
               "types" : [ "sublocality", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Kings",
               "short_name" : "Kings",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_2", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "New York",
               "short_name" : "NY",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "United States",
               "short_name" : "US",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "11211",
               "short_name" : "11211",
               "types" : [ "postal_code" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "277 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
         "geometry" : {
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 40.714232,
               "lng" : -73.9612889
            },
            "location_type" : "ROOFTOP",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 40.7155809802915,
                  "lng" : -73.9599399197085
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 40.7128830197085,
                  "lng" : -73.96263788029151
               }
            }
         },
         "place_id" : "ChIJd8BlQ2BZwokRAFUEcm_qrcA",
         "types" : [ "street_address" ]
      },

  ... Additional <code>results[]</code> ...

Note that the reverse geocoder returned more than one result. The "formatted_address" results are not just postal addresses, but any way to geographically name a location. For example, when geocoding a point in the city of Chicago, the geocoded point may be denoted as a street address, as the city (Chicago), as its state (Illinois) or as a country (The United States). All are "addresses" to the geocoder. The reverse geocoder returns any of these types as valid results.

The reverse geocoder matches political entities (countries, provinces, cities and neighborhoods), street addresses, and postal codes.

The full list of formatted_address values returned by the previous query is shown below.

"formatted_address" : "277 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Grand St/Bedford Av, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Grand St/Bedford Av, Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Bedford Av/Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, USA",
"formatted_address" : "Brooklyn, NY, USA",
"formatted_address" : "New York, NY, USA",
"formatted_address" : "New York, USA",
"formatted_address" : "United States",

Generally, addresses are returned from most specific to least specific; the more exact address is the most prominent result, as it is in this case. Note that we return different types of addresses, from the most specific street address to less specific political entities such as neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, etc. If you wish to match a specific type of address, see the section below on restricting results by type.

Reverse geocoding filtered by type

The following example filters the addresses returned to include only those with a location type of ROOFTOP and an address type of street_address.

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?latlng=40.714224,-73.961452
&location_type=ROOFTOP&result_type=street_address&key=YOUR_API_KEY

Note: These filters are only valid for reverse geocoding.

Reverse geocoding responses

The format of the reverse geocoding response is the same as the Geocoding response. See Geocoding responses. Below are the status codes possible in a reverse geocoding response.

Reverse geocoding status codes

The "status" field within the Geocoding response object contains the status of the request, and may contain debugging information to help you track down why reverse geocoding is not working. The "status" field may contain the following values:

  • "OK" indicates that no errors occurred and at least one address was returned.
  • "ZERO_RESULTS" indicates that the reverse geocoding was successful but returned no results. This may occur if the geocoder was passed a latlng in a remote location.
  • "OVER_QUERY_LIMIT" indicates that you are over your quota.
  • "REQUEST_DENIED" indicates that the request was denied. Possibly because the request includes a result_type or location_type parameter but does not include an API key.
  • "INVALID_REQUEST" generally indicates one of the following:
    • The query (address, components or latlng) is missing.
    • An invalid result_type or location_type was given.
  • "UNKNOWN_ERROR" indicates that the request could not be processed due to a server error. The request may succeed if you try again.

Reverse geocoding plus codes

The plus_code field within the Geocoding response object contains a plus code that best approximates the queried latitude and longitude. In addition the JSON results array will in most cases contain a full Geocoding result with a plus_code type and an address containing a plus code. The distance between the decoded plus code and the request point is guaranteed to be under 10 meters.