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agency bullet GEOnet Names Server (GNS) Services

GNS Provides the following services:

Web Map Services (WMS) - 1.3.0 and 1.1.0 compliant: Depending on client capabilities, try the full URLs listed below by each WMS service, or a shortened one such as "" with or without the question mark, to display any of the WMS services (e.g. "" for the Full WMS, or "" for the Scaled Populated Place WMS)

Full WMS: Provides the full content of GNS

Scaled WMS: Provides the full content of GNS, but introduces a scaling factor based on the DISPLAY values found at

Scaled WMS by Feature Class: "Feature Class" definitions can be found at

Web Feature Service (WFS) - 2.0.0 and 1.1.0 compliant: The maximum number of features returned is 8,500

Web Feature Service, Gazetteer Profile (WFS-G) - 1.1.0 compliant:

REST/JSON Services: ArcGIS 10.3.1 server based services of GNS content - the maximum number of features returned is 8,500

KML Streaming Service:

Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) compliant Web Map Services (WMS) Viewer:

WMS Viewer

Besides providing a viewer for NGA's WMS data, it also supports mapping and displaying other available WMS services

Text Based Query and Output Services:

Text Based Query

Search the contents of GNS, and display the results onscreen, or choose to export the results in one of the following formats:

  • CSV
  • HTML
  • KML
  • MDB
  • Shape file
  • Tab Delimited
  • XML

Widen or narrow the search and output criteria based on selectable parameters such as:

  • Country Name(s)
  • Single or multiple feature name(s)
  • Primary Administrative Division(s)
  • Name Type(s)
  • Modify Date
  • Scale Range
  • JOG Reference
  • MGRS Coordinate
  • Language Code
  • Feature Designation(s)
  • Minimum Bounding Rectangle (MBR or Box) or Radial Spatial filters

More selections produce narrower search results.

Text Based Query
You can search for multiple names by choosing the Multiple Names Search option above the Name widget. You can input 500 lines of individual names for search type Starts With, Exact Match, and Ends With. For Contains Search, you are limited to 100 lines of individual names.

Embed GNS on Your Site:

Embed GNS

You are now able to embed a simple GNS search function on your site. You will need to allow ActiveX controls and pop-up windows in your browser to properly run and display the search results screen.

Click the link below to download the code.

Download Source Code zip file…

The provided code is in HTML format and can be used as either embedded or stand-alone.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Feed Service RSS Symbol:

RSS Pick List

GNS offers subscription to GeoNames RSS feeds. The GeoNames RSS feeds can be accessed through the GNS Search - Text Based Page. The feeds, at this time, alert to the total number of changed rows of data based on subscribed country(ies), but do not identify those changed rows. Future implementations will introduce GeoRSS.

  • To subscribe to a single country RSS feed, click on the desired entry, then click the "Subscribe" button.
  • To subscribe to multiple countries RSS feeds, make the multiple selections while holding down the "CTRL" key, then click the "Subscribe" button.
  • To select all countries RSS feeds, check the "Select All" box, then click the "Subscribe" button.

Pre-Positioned Downloadable Country files:

GNS database content, broken by country, is available for download as country files using HTTP or FTP connections. An extra file that contains the entire data set is also available for download. All feature names data is encoded as Unicode UTF-8. The following table describes the format of those files.

Look-up Tables, or domain tables, can be queried and output using the GNS Text Based search page.

Look Up Tables

Once you arrive at the GNS Text Based search page, follow these simple steps to generate output of look-up tables values:

  • Switch from Search to Export
  • Click on the desired look-up table
  • Select the desired output format
  • Assign a name to your output file
  • Click on "Export look-up table name"***

*** look-up table name stands for any of the following available look-up (domain) tables:

  • ADM1 Codes table: Describes the relationship between first-order administrative division codes and their names (an alphanumeric code assigned to a country's first-order administrative divisions)
  • Country Codes table: Describes the relationship between country codes and country names (a 2 letter code assigned to a country)
  • Designation Codes table: Describes the relationship between designation codes and their short and long definitions (a 2 to 5 letter code assigned to a feature)
  • Language Codes table: Describes the relationship between language codes and language names (a 3 letter code assigned to a language)
  • Name Type Codes table: Describes the relationship between name type codes and their short and long definitions (a 1 or 2 letter code indicating the name type)
  • Transliteration Codes table: An internally generated system of codes that describe transliteration methodologies used to convert a non-roman script name into a romanized form

GeoNames Soft-Copy Keyboard:


The keyboard was created to provide easy access to Romanized Unicode special characters and letter/diacritic combinations, and to maintain a uniform input of said characters when adding or editing entries in the Geographic Names Database (GNDB). The GNDB is the base for populating the GEOnet Names Server (GNS) dissemination database instance, made available to consumers of geographic names data and services.

This release of the keyboard runs on the Microsoft Windows platform and requires Microsoft.NET Framework v3.5 as well as Microsoft Access. If you don't have Microsoft Access installed, you can download the Microsoft Access Runtime from Microsoft's web site - (tested with Microsoft Access Runtime for Microsoft Access 2007 and 2010)

You can download the keyboard by clicking on the following link and view the keyboard help file here Regional Keyboard Help 2016-09-27.pdf.

GNS Data and GIS Applications ***:

GNS data, whether generated through the text based search and output page, or downloaded as pre-positioned country files, can be brought into a variety of GIS applications. Below are links to Open Source GIS applications, and suggestions on how to bring GNS data into them.

ESRI's ArcGIS 9.x ( can open shapefiles and can load pre-positioned country files (Unicode UTF-8, tab-delimited files) and personal geodatabases.

Most commercial and Open Source GIS applications can deal with shapefiles and the downloadable pre-positioned country files (Unicode UTF-8, tab-delimited files).

*** Information about grid reference systems is available at the web site of NGA's Geodesy and Geophysics.

Commercial: (571) 557-5959
DSN: 547-5959

Document last modified December 02, 2020

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