I'm trying to convert some data from ESRI Shapefile to MapInfo TAB format using ogr2ogr. The data is projected using the British National Grid (EPSG:27700). The output file is valid, and the geometry and attribute data are OK, but the projection is incorrect. This is best illustrated with an example.


Start with a GeoJSON file containing a single point:

    "type": "FeatureCollection",
    "features": [{
        "type": "Feature",
        "properties": { "FID": 0 },
            "type": "Point",
            "coordinates": [ 393800.0, 212700.0 ]

If I convert to an ESRI Shapefile (assigning a projection, as GeoJSON has none), everything works:

$ ogr2ogr test.shp test.geojson -a_srs EPSG:27700
$ gdalsrsinfo -o proj4 test.shp
'+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +datum=OSGB36 +units=m +no_defs '

QGIS expands +datum=OSGB36 to a 7 parameter transformation from WGS84, as so:

+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=airy +towgs84=446.448,-125.157,542.06,0.15,0.247,0.842,-20.489 +units=m +no_defs

Next, I try to convert to MapInfo:

$ ogr2ogr test2.tab test.geojson -a_srs EPSG:27700 -f 'MapInfo File'
$ gdalsrsinfo -o proj4 test2.tab
'+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=airy +towgs84=375,-111,431,0,0,0,0 +units=m +no_defs '

The result is a 3 parameter transformation. The actual geometry is unmodified, and I can manually redefine the projection in QGIS, but this is not good.

Next, I try to reproject to a 3 parameter transform...

$ ogr2ogr test3.tab test.geojson -s_srs EPSG:27700 -t_srs '+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=airy +towgs84=375,-111,431,0,0,0,0 +units=m +no_defs ' -f 'MapInfo File'
$ gdalsrsinfo -o proj4 test3.tab
'+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=WGS84 +towgs84=0,0,0,0,0,0,0 +units=m +no_defs '

It changed again! Finally, if I try to reproject once more:

$ ogr2ogr test4.tab test.geojson -s_srs EPSG:27700 -t_srs '+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=WGS84 +towgs84=0,0,0,0,0,0,0 +units=m +no_defs ' -f 'MapInfo File'
$ gdalsrsinfo -o proj4 test4.tab
'+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=WGS84 +towgs84=0,0,0,0,0,0,0 +units=m +no_defs '

This works - the geometry has been modified, but at least it is what it says it is.

But that's not what I want! How to I get the MapInfo file to store the 7 parameter transform?

This issue seems to be related to these questions, but as far as I can see they don't provide an answer. From what I can tell, either OGR is doing something wrong, or the MapInfo format simply can't handle this information. QGIS and MapInfo Projections - EPSG 27700 (British National Grid) Question about BNG coordinate systems

  • If you know the correct MapInfo projection string try to write out MID/MIF and edit the MIF file manually. With your command -a_srs epsgs:27700 I get there CoordSys Earth Projection 8, 79, "m", -2, 49, 0.9996012717, 400000, -100000
    – user30184
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


If you look inside http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/browser/branches/1.11/gdal/ogr/ogrsf_frmts/mitab/mitab_spatialref.cpp you see:

{ 6277, 79, "OSGB_1936", 9, 375, -111, 431, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0},

The shift values were replaced in GDAL some time ago, but obviously not in the mitab driver.

Keep in mind that EPSG:27700 in the original EPSG definition does not obey any datum shift, instead there are several datum shifts from OSGB to WGS84 available. See this Q&A for all possible values: Raster incorrectly reprojected to OSGB(27700)

ESRI products follow that line and do not bundle datum shifts to projections, as you are used to in GDAL and QGIS.

I don't know how this is handled in Mapinfo, so I can not say it is a bug if the file gets a different datum shift information.

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