I have a PDF file, with a Map as a vector graphic. I want to get this into GIS. (I use ESRI's ArcGIS, but any FOSS solution is also fine).

I know that it is not possible to directly get the PDF into ArcGIS, so I was just testing various scenarios, and found that we can convert the vector graphic in the PDF to SVG using Inkscape. I was successful in doing that.

I was hoping that there might be some way of going from SVG into a vector format that ArcGIS understands.

Is this possible?

  • 2
    Believe Inkscape will go even further and allow the imported PDF to be saved as a DXF (Desktop Cutting Plotter (R13)), suitable for import to ArcGIS--but fidelity of resulting layers may remain an issue. Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 18:26
  • 1
    An alternative to Inkscape--use the GIMP. If you care to make use of the PDF as a raster/grid representation (and perhaps later digitize any needed vector data) use the GIMP to directly read the PDF and save as TIFF. Import TIFF to ArcGIS, georeference (rectify if GeoTIFF is needed). Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 18:43
  • Use Adobe Illustrator to open the PDF and save as DXF.
    – Enoch
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 2:14

4 Answers 4


You can try these options:

  1. Use pstoedit to export PDF to DXF and later import it to GIS software. pstoedit translates PostScript and PDF graphics into other vector formats. SVG is also supported by means of a plugin.
  2. Use a tool like CorelDraw which can read SVG format and export the file to DXF.
  • Thank you for the answer! I did in this way: SVG -> PDF (printing to PDF with Firefox) -> DXF with pstoedit. Note that converting SVG to PS/EPS in Inkscape didn't produce a valid DXF.
    – luca76
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 8:12

I use several methods.
First pdf can be vector or image format. That depends on the software that created it and options used.
If it is image format I use irfanview with the full plugins which support pdf reading. Save it to tif and then in raster design (autodesk) I geo-reference it and save out as geo-tiff.
Then it will work as georeferenced in any of my software.

If it is vector then I have a couple of options now.
the cheapest is scan2cad v8 pro it will allow export to dxf from many image formats and pdf.

The more expensive option is terrago publisher.
It allows direct load of a pdf into arcmap.
The pdf can then be geo-referenced and "hand digitized" into gis data.

In the realm of opensource there is always grass and gdal which have some functionality in converting images into vector. you need a "usable" (normally binary) image for completion of this method.

New in AutoCad: You can use the insert pdf underlay command, move the pdf to the correct location, scale and rotate. Use the pdfimportsettings to determine how to convert. Then use pdfimport to convert the pdf (must be a vector pdf file) into AutoCad lines. Prior to using pdf import you can use pdfshxtext to convert recognizable text to AutoCad text. and the txt2mtxt command will convert those single line text to multi-line.
Autodesk has some help in the knowledgebase here...


GeoPDF directly supported in QGIS if QGIS use GDAL with PDF support: http://gdal.org/frmt_pdf.html but this will be rasterised image.

SVG also supported in QGIS but with limitations. See.: http://gdal.org/drv_svg.html


Your best option if you have a geopdf source use

OGR2OGR -f "ESRI Shapefile" path\name.shp source\filename.pdf

Or global mapper 18.2 does a great job with PDF.

First try creating VRT with gdalbuildvrt because arcmap supports vrt so you can bring in pdf or mbtiles or other non supported files once you have a vrt.

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