I'm trying to export a shapefile to a dwg-file to use it in AutoCAD. When I export the shapefile using the "Export to CAD" tool, the dwg-file that's being created is not georeferenced (but I need it to be). Anyone who can help me?

  • Maybe I am wrong, but you can simple save as file lake dwg.(not export) I just tried it in Autodesk Map 5, simply save as DWG
    – nagib
    Nov 6, 2016 at 18:20
  • The asker is "trying to export a shapefile [from ArcGIS for Desktop] to a dwg-file to use it in AutoCAD" and they are not trying to save it from Autodesk.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 6, 2016 at 22:15
  • I am not sure what you were trying to do. Usually a CAD doesnt have any georeferenced, so the only thing what projection does the shapefile have on ? In the past, I have worked on CAD files in ArcMap and had to get a known projection that I need to work on. What kind of projection does your CAD have ?
    Nov 6, 2016 at 22:30
  • Polygeo:. I dont see that export is from arcgis
    – nagib
    Nov 7, 2016 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


When you export your shapefile to CAD (dwg), the coordinates are preserved. However (as @PROBERT mentioned), dwg files does not care about coordinate systems the way a GIS application does and (most versions) cannot handle multiple coordinate systems (on the fly projection, old link but still conceptually valid).

There are a few things you can do. Either you go in manually in your dwg and set the coordinate system from in there. This wont affect any of your data or display, it just says which coordinate system you use.

For further use in ArcGIS you can use Define projection to create a .prj file for the dwg.

Mind though, the function usually defaults to exporting a dwg set in feet, even when you use meters. This might have to be manually changed for your data to line up properly.

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