Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I received a shape file for my project from an agency and was told that they always use UTM. However, the values have too many digits for being projected in UTM.

      min      max
 x 32507319 32624343
 y  5925974  6074881

I've tried reading the file into QGIS but the shapes always appear outside of my map's boundaries, even if I use a world map, no matter which projection I try. The area where they should appear is Schleswig-Holstein, which is the northernmost federal state of Germany and has the following min and max values in UTM

    min       max
x  426167.5  650147.9
y 5913377.7 6101334.8

As one can easily see, something's very wrong with the upper data. Does anyone know which projection I could use to fix this?

share|improve this question
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Obviously the data is in UTM32 including the number of the zone. You can strip the 32 in front of your x-coord away as it is explicitely given by the provided CRS. However QGIS should be able to deal with this if you config that reference-system.

What you use as boundary seems like UTM33 without zonal extension. The same values with zonal extension would be 33,426,167.5 and 33,650,147.9 respectivly. Here you can see that you´re indeed using different CRS for your map and your data. You can transform either your map to UTM32 or your data to UTM33 to get comparable results.

As an aside the y-coords are not affected by the zone you´re in.

EDIT: So what does this x-coordinate actually mean? It is the difference to the middle-meridian of the appropriate zone - in your case either zone 32 or 33 - plus a value of 500km to avoid negative values. So in your example a value of 33,426,167.5 means that you´re in zone 33 and located 74km west of the middle-meridian (426 - 500 = -74 --> west). 33,650,147.9 therefor means you´re 150km (650 - 500 = 150 --> east) from the middle-meridian.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, HimBromBeere! Now it works! When using the right CRS (EPSG:5652) it was no problem to add the data to my map. – Kathrin Feb 24 at 13:25
Coordinate order is the difference between EPSG:5652 and EPSG:4647. So when your coordinates seem wrong even if using 5652, maybe you want 4647 instead. – til_b Feb 24 at 13:39

When coordinates make no sense, you can try the Null Island Algorithm: take those coordinates, transform them to all the available CRSs, and plot the results in a map.

share|improve this answer
Ah, the brute force method. A quicker way is to only stop those CRS that have appropriate areas of use. – mkennedy Feb 24 at 13:32
That´s really crude, we geo-scientists love our spatial-references. Don´t throw them off. However when measuring and calculating with the data you HAVE to provide some kind of CRS. – HimBromBeere Feb 24 at 13:35

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.