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The Swiss coordinates system

Switzerland’s official coordinates are based on reference frame LV95 (the 1995 national survey), with the point of origin (or zero point) located in Bern. The coordinates of this point are E = 2,600,000 m (east) and N = 1,200,000 m (north). The fundamentals of the national coordinates were created more than 100 years ago, and were updated at the end of the 1990s.

The currently valid coordinates of the control points in Switzerland were resurveyed by swisstopo in the 1990s with a degree of accuracy within the centimetre range, using satellite technology and the Global Positioning System (GPS). We refer to this as national survey 1995 (LV95).

Zero point is not actually zero

 

The defined location of Switzerland’s zero point is the old observatory in Bern. This is the point from which the coordinates are calculated in metres, increasing towards the east and north and decreasing towards the west and south. However, the coordinates of this «zero» point are not in fact 0 m / 0 m as the name might imply, but rather E = 2,600,000 m (east) and N = 1,200,000 m (north).

With this definition, coordinates to the south and west of Bern do not have negative figures, and any confusion between east and north values is also ruled out. 

The zero point of Switzerland’s coordinates system is located in Bern: its coordinates are E = 2,600,000 and N = 1,200,000
The zero point of Switzerland’s coordinates system is located in Bern: its coordinates are E = 2,600,000 and N = 1,200,000

Modification of the coordinates system at the end of the 20th century

 

The first official coordinates system was defined in 1903 within the framework of the 1903 national survey (LV03). But surveying methods underwent further development, and thanks to satellite technology and GPS the Swiss national survey was improved in the 1990s. In the 1995 national survey (LV95) the coordinates of the control points were calculated with a degree of accuracy within the centimetre range.

Thus with LV95 the almost hundred-year-old coordinates defined in LV03 were replaced. The most noticeable difference resulting from this change of reference frame was that the coordinates now comprised seven digits instead of six. The value 2,000,000 was added to the coordinates towards the east (E) and 1,000,000 m to the coordinates to the north in order to distinguish them from the designations in the old system. Through the use of seven-digit designations it was now possible to precisely indicate each point in Switzerland. 


Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
Tel.
+41 58 469 01 11

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Relevant authority

Geodesy and Federal Directorate of Cadastral Surveying
E-mail

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

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