I have Python script for converting shapefiles to Geojson. My code works well if I use some usa data, but when I want to use some other encoding, it gives me this error:

Traceback (most recent call last): File "C:\Python33\lib\tkinter__init__.py", line 1475, in call return self.func(*args)
File "C:/Users/name/PycharmProjects/desktopApp/core.py", line 105, in shp2geojson for sr in reader.shapeRecords():
File "C:\Python33\lib\shapefile.py", line 553, in shapeRecords for rec in zip(self.shapes(), self.records())]
File "C:\Python33\lib\shapefile.py", line 525, in records r = self.__record() File "C:\Python33\lib\shapefile.py", line 501, in __record value = u(value) File "C:\Python33\lib\shapefile.py", line 60, in u return v.decode('utf-8')

UnicodeDecodeError: 'utf-8' codec can't decode byte 0xe1 in position 10: invalid continuation byte

How to fix this problem?

  import shapefile
  import json

  def shp2geojson():

        filename = askopenfilename()
        reader = shapefile.Reader(filename)
        fields = reader.fields[1:]
        field_names = [field[0] for field in fields]            
        buffer = []

        for sr in reader.shapeRecords():
            atr = dict(zip(field_names, sr.record))
            geom = sr.shape.__geo_interface__
            buffer.append(dict(type="Feature", \
                               geometry=geom, properties=atr))

        geojson = open('shp.json', "w")
        geojson.write(dumps({"type": "FeatureCollection", \
                             "features": buffer}, indent=2) + "\n")
  • At which line of your code do you get that error? If you have special characters in your buffer, the print command will throw this error.
    – HavardMoe
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 10:37
  • Nice function. No need for forward slashes there: line continuation is implicit within parentheses.
    – sgillies
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


I figured it out so I'm posting the answer here:

geojson = open('shp.json', "w", encoding='utf-8')



to this line while creating json file. Works great!

  • 1
    Great you were able to answer your own question. It usually takes 2 days on GIS.SE be allowed to accept your own answer, but please do so when available to close the thread. Thanks! Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 14:57
  • More details about the Unicode changes in Python 3 at python-notes.curiousefficiency.org/en/latest/python3/….
    – sgillies
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 17:33

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