I am looking for a vector file worldmap which should include as many boundaries reaching to a very small level (like ZIP-Codes/small communities/etc) as possible.

The data of Natural Earth is quite good, but does not go that much in detail. The GADM data would be nearly perfect, but it is not allowed for company use.


  • Consistent boundaries for nearby countries (no overlapping!).
  • As much detail as possible (refering to boundaries).
  • Country boundaries and subdivisions should be separated.

  • The data is for company use, therefore I should be able to buy it, or it should be free to use for companies.

I also thought of extracting it from the OpenStreetMap data. Do you think this is possible?

  • 9
    Regarding the GADM data, have you considered contacting the developers to inquire about permission for commercial use? The license statement reads "Redistribution, or commercial use, is not allowed without prior permission." (emphasis mine). Worth a shot to see if they're amenable to any sort of licensing or attribution arrangement. – anoved Jan 25 '13 at 19:24
  • 1
    I already tried to contact them a month ago. Did not recieve an answer up to now. Maybe I will try it a second time. – Gideon Jan 25 '13 at 23:22
  • This looks very promising! Maybe you could put it in an answer instead of comment to give me the option to reward you with the +100. I will update as soon as I contacted the FAO (owner of the data) – Gideon Jan 27 '13 at 21:27
  • Ping @anoved , see Gideon's comment. – Kirk Kuykendall Feb 1 '13 at 21:44

There is also the Global Administrative Unit Layers (GAUL) from FAO , same has the GADM data (there is somehow a permission that can be requested).

Another source you can look at are the GIS Data Vendors from GPS companies:

They use that kind of data as well, but I am not sure if they can sell it back to you and also the price they will charge.


If you'd like to see if the OSM data would suit your company's needs, download a test area from WeoGeo: http://market.weogeo.com/datasets/osm-openstreetmap-planet

You can select just the 'Boundary' layer and a desired AOI and go from there.

Be aware of OSM's attribution rules if you do decide to go with the OSM data (http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright).

  • Thank you for your hint. I ordered the data, but it looks like it is just the same boundary data like the one of Natural Earth extended by some neighbourhood boundaries for major cities. Administrative areas of lower level seem to be only provided by GADM in a worldwide consistent file. It is a pity, that GADM seems to be no longer developed and there is no way for me to contact a responsible person. – Gideon Jan 26 '13 at 11:11

I'd suggest to have a look at TomTom offer. I've used their MultiNet product. This dataset is mainly developed with navigation in mind, but some of the layers provided cover administrative division and zip code areas.

At least 10 levels of Administrative Orders are defined for each country. The highest level, Order 0, is always the Country, which is made up of all lower-level units. Order 8 is also always present. The name of this level and the extension of its units are country dependent. Order 8 is the lowest level that covers the whole territory of the country (source).

I only used data for Switzerland but they seem to maintain global coverage:

enter image description here

I cannot comment on pricing and licensing of the product, but perhaps you could get a deal of getting access to admin boundaries only (which, if possible, could hopefully reduce the price).


If you are interested in OSM then yes it is quite possible, I will suggest first download the Osm planet file. Then extract only the administrative areas by using Osmfilter and write subset of planet file which includes only administrative areas. After this use QGIS or Arcgis to extract administrative areas. This whole process needs some time so before starting see OSM license first, if you are using this data commercially moreover coverage is different from country to country with some possible topological errors.

Second option is buy world set data from GfK Geomarketing. Very nice coverage for the whole world. Approximate 255,545 feature for finest postal layer and 168,378 feature for finest administrative layer.

Topological corrected seamless coverage for the whole world. Data can be integrated in any system very easily as every layer in a country has an unique ID which is saved in metadata.

Data is available in all popular GIS formats.

See this image where i have used python to extract layer name and layer ID from a FileGeoDB format.enter image description here

  • The OSM data does not contain that much administrative areas. Usually it only contains the first administrative rank. The export can be easy made with the help of Geofabrik, like already mentioned by RajGovind. The data by GfK Geomarketing is perfect but costs 40,000 €, which is way to much. – Gideon Jan 31 '13 at 19:47
  • Yes there cost is high but if you are looking for most update world set data then I think it will cost you that much. As you have mention that GADM data is nearly perfect that means you do not need finest layer. First decide which level you need from every country and then ask the price for only these levels. World set will defiantly cost you more. – iRfAn Feb 1 '13 at 8:28
  • @Gideon OSM really has lots of administrative borders. Of course the completeness varies from country to country but for many regions they have become very detailed. – scai Feb 27 '15 at 18:17

Geofabrik's free download server. This server has data extracts from the OpenStreetMap project which are normally updated every day. So that its better to collect world boundary following link, If its suitable for your company you can use this link.


We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.


You can find detailed administrative divisions at http://www.diva-gis.org/.

cheers! Rok

  • 1
    Thank you! Sadly their data set for administrative boundaries is also the one from GADM. – Gideon Feb 2 '13 at 7:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.