Skip Header

We are hiring thousands of people for the 2020 Census. Click to learn more and apply.

Census Geocoder Documentation

Component ID: #ti37510349

The Census Geocoder is an address look-up tool that converts your address to an approximate coordinate (longitude/latitude) and returns information about the address range that includes the address and the census geography the address is within. The geocoder is available as a web interface and as an API (Representational State Transfer - REST - web-based service).

The tool allows you to look-up a single address or batch submit up to 10,000 addresses at a time. In addition, you can find the location of an address, the longitude and latitude, using the “Find Locations Using…” option. You can also find the census geographic entities for an address using the “Find Geographies Using…” option. The “Find Geographies Using…” option returns the state, county, census tract, and block for each address. Additional geographies are available using the instructions under Documentation below.

When geocoding your address, you need to select a benchmark (time period) and select a vintage of geography. The benchmark is the time period when we created a snapshot of our data (generally done twice a year). For example, Public_AR_Census2010 is the snapshot we took of the database in 2010. Public_AR_Current is the most recent snapshot we took of our dataset. The vintage of geography is the census or survey that the data relates to. For example, Census2010_Census2010 are the address ranges from the 2010 Census at the time of the 2010 Census. You can also obtain the 2010 Census address ranges as of our most recent benchmark. The vintages you see available depends on the benchmark you selected.

Component ID: #ti37510348

Data in the Census Geocoder

The information in the geocoder comes from our MAF/TIGER database, which holds our geographic information used for censuses and surveys. The address ranges used in the geocoder are the same address ranges that can be found in the TIGER/Line Shapefiles which are derived from the Master Address File (MAF).

There are limitations to the address ranges found in our MAF/TIGER database. The address ranges are potential address ranges, not actual address ranges. Potential ranges include the full range of possible structure numbers even though the actual structures might not exist. The majority of the address ranges we have are for residential areas. There are limited address ranges available in commercial areas. Our address ranges are regularly updated with the most current information we have available to us.


Component ID: #ti37510347

Batch Geocoding Process

Component ID: #ti37510346

How to Format your Address List

Addresses should be formatted in a single line with comma delimiters. The address should consist of:

  • Unique ID,
  • House Number and Street Name,
  • City,
  • State,
  • ZIP Code

City and State, or ZIP Code may be left blank, but there must be the appropriate number of commas to represent the blank data, for example:

  • 1, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC,
  • 2, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, , , 20502

are both valid entries, while:

  • 3, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC
  • 4, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 20502

are both invalid entries.

The batch geocoder can process up to 10,000 addresses at a time. It may take several minutes to process this many addresses.


Component ID: #ti37510345

Results

The geocoder takes the address and determines the approximate location offset from the street centerline. An interpolated longitude/latitude coordinate is returned along with the address range the Census Bureau has on that stretch of road. That coordinate is then used to determine the geography that the address is within.

The results can be:

  • Match/Exact
  • Match/Non-Exact
  • Tie
  • No Match

If a Tie is encountered, there are multiple possible results for that address. The address can be input for single address geocoding to view the multiple results.

Using the web interface "Find Locations Using..." option, the results include the estimated longitude/latitude coordinate, TIGER identifier of the street, and full address range on the road segment.

Using the web interface "Find Geographies Using..." option, results are returned for the State, County, Census Tract, and Block the address is located within. In addition, attributes of these pieces of geography, such as an urban/rural indicator are included.

The state, county, census tract, and block codes are returned.


Component ID: #ti1184395262

Record Layouts for Output

Finding Geographies Using Option
Column
Column Name Column Description
1 Record ID Number ID from original address list
2 Input Address Address from original address list
3 TIGER Address Range Match Indicator Results indicating whether or not there was a match for the address (Match, tie, no match)
4 TIGER Match Type Results indicating if the match is exact or not (Exact, non-exact)
5 TIGER Output Address Address the original address matches to
6 Interpolated Longitude, Latitude Interpolated longitude and latitude for the address
7 TIGER Line ID Unique ID for the edge the address falls on in the MAF/TIGER database
8 TIGER Line ID Side Side of the street address in on (L for left and R for right)
9 State Code State FIPS Code
10 County Code County FIPS Code
11 Tract Code Census Tract Code
12 Block Code Census Block Code

Component ID: #ti37510344

Finding Locations Using Option
Column Column Name Column Description
1 Record ID Number ID from original address list
2 Input Address Address from original address list
3 TIGER Address Range Match Indicator Results indicating whether or not there was a match for the address (Match, tie, no match)
4 TIGER Match Type Results indicating if the match is exact or not (Exact, non-exact)
5 TIGER Output Address Address the original address matches to
6 Interpolated Longitude, Latitude Interpolated longitude and latitude for the address
7 TIGER Line ID Unique ID for the edge the address falls on in the MAF/TIGER database
8 TIGER Line ID Side Side of the street address in on (L for left and R for right)

Component ID: #ti37510342

Single Address Look-up

Component ID: #ti37510343

Results

The geocoder takes the address and determines the approximate location offset from the street centerline. An interpolated longitude/latitude coordinate is returned along with the address range the Census Bureau has on that stretch of road. That coordinate is then used to determine the geography that the address is within.

Using the web interface "Find Locations Using..." option, the results include the estimated longitude/latitude coordinate, TIGER identifier of the street, and full address range on the road segment.

Using the web interface "Find Geographies Using..." option, results are returned for the State, County, Census Tract, and Block the address is located within. In addition, attributes of these pieces of geography, such as an urban/rural indicator are included. To see all of the geography available for the selected address for the time period you selected, type &layers=all at the end of the URL once you get your results back, and refresh the page.

Using the API single record search, any geography that is available for that benchmark/vintage combination in our TIGERweb application can be returned by using the layer code lists in your API request. See the documentation section for additional information on using the API.


Component ID: #ti37510341

Documentation

Component ID: #ti1134001009

Contact Information

Please send any questions or comments to geo.geocoding.services@census.gov.

X
  Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes    Thumbs Down Image No
X
Comments or suggestions?
No, thanks
255 characters remaining
X
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?
Back to Header