I received a shapefile 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?

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 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, 2016 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, 2016 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.

  • Ah, the brute force method. A quicker way is to only stop those CRS that have appropriate areas of use.
    – mkennedy
    Feb 24, 2016 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. Feb 24, 2016 at 13:35

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