Given a point and few lines, how should I go about finding the nearest line to the point?

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I am aware of Finding nearest line to point using ArcGIS Desktop (ArcObjects/ArcPy)?, but that is in ArcGIS and uses its functions.

The "duplicate" question doesn't answer this question properly, it's just a pointer to MMQGIS.

  • After you've found the nearest line, what do you want to do with it?
    – R.K.
    Apr 26, 2013 at 2:03
  • @R.K. Then I want to find the perpendicular distance from the point to that line Apr 26, 2013 at 2:21
  • 2
    There has been some solution in QGIS mailing list a few years ago:lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/qgis-user/2010-May/008745.html. Carson provide "meta-python-code":
    – posiki
    Apr 26, 2013 at 5:21
  • The NNJoin QGIS Plugin can help you with the job. For each feature of the input layer it adds all the attributes of the nearest feature in the join layer and also adds a distance attribute with the distance to this feature. So if you only want to join the attributes of the nearest line to each point, the NNJoin result is all you need. Otherwise, the line can be identified through its attributes. Mar 25, 2017 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


You can use QgsSpatialIndex class for finding nearest objects. First you will need to create a new object of this class. Then add the required features to the index. Then you should be able to use QgsSpatialIndex.nearestNeighbor (QgsPoint point, int neighbors) moethod to retrieve the nearest ones.

Here is sample that I managed in python console.

lineLayer = iface.activeLayer()
provider = lineLayer.dataProvider()

spIndex = QgsSpatialIndex() #create spatial index object

feat = QgsFeature()
fit = provider.getFeatures() #gets all features in layer

# insert features to index
while fit.nextFeature(feat):

pt = QgsPoint(-0.00062201,0.00001746)

# QgsSpatialIndex.nearestNeighbor (QgsPoint point, int neighbors)
nearestIds = spIndex.nearestNeighbor(pt,1) # we need only one neighbour
print nearestIds


To get the actual QgsFeature object from the python list, you can do this,

featureId = nearestIds[0]
fit2 = lineLayer.getFeatures(QgsFeatureRequest().setFilterFid(featureId))
ftr = QgsFeature()
# ftr now contains the QgsFeature object for the id
  • Thanks for introducing me to QgsSpatialIndex! it all looks wonderful; just let me ask a further question: How can I get the actual feature in "lineLayer" from this "nearestIds"?( i.e. get featureid from indexid?) Apr 26, 2013 at 6:50
  • @PeterBorook - i updated the answer..the code is based on version 1.9. If you need to get it working for older version, please refer qgis.org/pyqgis-cookbook
    – vinayan
    Apr 26, 2013 at 7:19
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    As far as I know, QgsSpatialIndex.nearestNeighbor finds the nearest neighbours among the index geometries. The index consists of approximations of the real geometries (bounding box for lines and polygons), so the nearest neighbours found in the index are not necessarily the real nearest neighbour. Sep 23, 2014 at 6:59

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