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Adding the Planet Federal what3words plugin to QGIS


The QGIS plugin brings the functionality of the what3words API to the QGIS platform. You can use the plugin to convert from coordinates to 3 word addresses by adding a field to a Shapefile, as well as searching for 3 word addresses or inspecting the map to view the 3 word address for a location.

QGIS Minimum Supported Requirements: 3.0.0

QGIS Versions 1-3, Copyright (C) 2016-2020 build by Planet Federal

QGIS Version 4, Copyright (C) 2020-2022, updated by what3words Limited

Getting started with Dazi, GIS Technical Account Manager at what3words:


Download the plugin

You can now download the What3words Tools directly from the QGIS Python Plugins Repository.

Open QGIS and click on Plugins > Manage and Install Plugins > type on the search bar for the what3words plugin and click on Install Plugin button.


Adding the plugin to QGIS

Once enabled, you will see what3words under the Plugins tab, choose the Plugin Settings menu and then Paste the API Key, that you have copied from your what3words account.


Using the plugin

There are 4 options available with the what3words plugin:

  • Identify a what3words address.
  • Zoom to a what3words address.
  • Extract what3words addresses for a Point Layer.
  • Geocode a file using what3words addresses.

1. Identify a what3words address

Using the what3words tool, simply click anywhere in the QGIS map canvas and the what3words address for that location will be shown in a message bar.

2. Zoom to a what3words address

If you are given a what3words address, you can use the ‘Zoom to 3 word address’ tool to find that location.

From the Plugins menu > choose what3words > Zoom to a 3 word address and a new toolbar will be embedded at the top of the map canvas.

Type a 3 word address into the input field, then click on Zoom to button, the map will then auto centre over the chosen what3words location and a red cross marker will be displayed on the map canvas.

If you wish to remove the marker, you can by clicking on the Remove marker button, or simply close the Zoom to a 3 word address toolbar.

3. Extract what3words address for a Point Layer.

Users can append a 3 word address field to a layer of points by using the ‘Add what3words address field to layer’ tool available within the Processing Toolbox.

In case, the Processing Toolbox is not displayed on QGIS. Users can enable it by clicking on the Processing tab > Toolbox, then search for the what3words Tools.

Simply select the input Point Layer and then choose an output option.
Once the tool has run, the what3words field is added to the layer and the address for each location has been extracted.

4. Geocode a file using what3words addresses

Users can also add a CSV file that has records with what3words address that wish to show on the map and convert into a layer.

Open the CSV file into QGIS and then from the Processing Toolbox search for the what3words Tools, choose the ‘Geocode what3words address layer’ option.

Choose the input to be the CSV file, and choose which field in the CSV contains the what3words addresses.

Press Run and the CSV file will be geocoded using the what3words address values. A new point layer will be created.



Use the QGIS What3words Tools to convert coordinates in any coordinate system to what3words. If you have data in a different coordinate system than WGS84, our What3words Tools handles the transformation of the original coordinate system to WGS84, as it is expected by what3words.

In this example, we will show how a CSV file with coordinates (Easting and Northing) in EPSG:27700 – OSGB 1936 / British National Grid can be imported into QGIS and how our What3words Tools can handle the transformation from this coordinate system to WGS84 while adding the what3words address to this file.

Note: make sure the Easting and Northing are integer numbers.

To import this CSV to QGIS we need to go to Layer > Add Layer > Add Delimited Text Layer.

  1. Then Import the File name from the original source by clicking on the 3 dots button.
  2. Choose the Geometry Definition, Point coordinates and assign your x field to your easting and the y field to your northing (since our example it is using the British National Grid, otherwise you should choose the longitude and latitude instead);
  3. Then assign the Geometry CRS to your CSV file, in our case the EPSG: 27700, it might ask you to choose some transformation, please use the most appropriate for your project.
  4. Then you are ready to click the Add button to import this file onto your QGIS project. You will see point features being plotted on the map.

Now we want to add what3words addresses to these point features. After enabling the what3words tools plugin on your QGIS project, open the Processing Toolbox, the what3words tools plugin would be visible at the bottom. Click on the tool Add what3words address field to layer. Choose your input layer, and output otherwise QGIS will save it as a temporary file, then click the button Run.

After the tool run successfully, if you open the attribute table of your point feature you will see a new column called w3w at the end of this table.

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