I'm revisiting GIS after several years of not using it and have opted for QGIS (currently v2.14). All the example files I have are of the US (Alaska) but I am learning QGIS for work purposes. I live in the UK so want to find a shapefile of the UK mainland. It doesn't have to be anything fancy just an outline would do, and also ideally in the British National Grid CRS (although I understand you can reproject but I haven't figured out how yet!)

Does anyone know where I can get shapefiles of the UK for use in QGIS?


3 Answers 3


You may use the datasets available from DIVA-GIS. If you select your country (United Kingdom), you will access to data (as raster or vector maps) about:

  • Administrative areas;
  • Inland waters;
  • Roads;
  • Railroads;
  • Elevation;
  • Land cover;
  • Population.

For example, this is the shapefile of administrative areas at the upper level (i.e. at the boundary level):

enter image description here

The CRS for all the data is WGS 84, but you can easily convert them to your preferred CRS by right clicking on their name in the Layers Panel, then by clicking Save as… and finally by selecting the target CRS in the options:

enter image description here


There are vast sources of open data for you to use.

Here are a few sites:

  1. https://data.gov.uk/
  2. http://www.diva-gis.org/Data
  3. http://freegisdata.rtwilson.com/
  4. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/gisco/
  5. http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps, more specifically http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/biogeographical-regions-europe-3

Uk Boundary Shapefile

You can get free shapefile to download from https://www.igismap.com/united-kingdom-shapefile-download/. It's completely free. Here you get polygon shapefile and shapefile of states.

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