Import CSV data

You may have tabular geographic data that you want to add to a map, so you can combine it with other datasets and share it with other users. You can do this by importing data to ArcGIS Online.

See an overview of adding content to ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Explorer Online allows you to import files of data where each row contains location information, in comma-separated values (CSV) format, or other text files separated by semicolon or tab characters. You can also import geographic data stored in Esri shapefile and GPS Exchange (GPX) formats.

Learn more about importing shapefiles

Learn more about importing GPX files

To import a local CSV file

  1. Open the map that you want to import the data into.
  2. On the Mapping toolbar, click the Add Content button Add Content, click Import, then click CSV.

    Add Content panel Import view

    The Import Data dialog box appears.

  3. Choose an option depending on where the data you want to import is located:

    Data source options on the Import Data dialog box

    • To import data from a file on your machine or network, click Browse for a file. In the Open dialog box that appears, browse for the file you want to import, then click Open.
    • To import data that you have copied to your clipboard, click Paste from a table.
    • To import data directly from a URL (a location on the internet), click Enter URL. In the URL box, enter the location of the CSV file you want to import, then click Validate. You can also use a text file with fields separated by semicolon or tab characters.

      When importing from a URL, the data is reloaded from the URL each time the map is opened, ensuring that the data in the map is always current.

  4. On the Import Data dialog box, click Next.

    ArcGIS Explorer Online uploads and analyzes the data you selected, creating a preview of your data with suggestions of which columns contain the location information and which contain attributes for the new features you are creating.

    Import Data dialog box showing analysis of uploaded data

  5. In the Layer name box, enter the name to use for the new layer in the map.
  6. Review the fields shown in the grid along with the type of field that will be created for the imported features. Click the columns in the Import As row to change the way that your data is imported by changing column field types, the fields used to identify a feature's location, and field names.
    • For fields that contain the location of each feature, ensure the upper Import As drop-down list shows the value Location, and the type of location information contained in the column is correctly shown in the lower drop-down list—either Address, City, Latitude, Longitude, State, or Zip or Postal Code. You must always have at least one location field defined, either a single place-name, two coordinate fields containing decimal degrees, or a number of fields defining the parts of an address.

      Options for importing location fields

    • If you are importing from a URL, the location must be stored in latitude and longitude coordinates, not in address fields.
    • For fields that contain attributes of each feature, ensure the upper drop-down list shows the appropriate data type for the values in that field—either Text, Integer, Double, Float or Date.

      Options for importing attribute fields

      See tips on importing data


    If your ArcGIS Online account is part of an organization, and your organization administrator has granted you permissions for publishing, an option to store the features in the map or to create a feature service will be displayed. If you choose to create a feature service, options are also displayed to set a title, summary, and tags, and specify the folder in which to create the new service. Ask your organization administrator for more information about publishing to a feature service.

  7. Click Import to close the dialog box and import the data.

After the import is complete, the data is shown in the map using a default symbol.

Configuring imported data

After you have imported your data, you can configure it to be displayed and behave the way that you would like:

Tips on importing CSV data

  • Semicolon and tab characters are also supported as field delimiters.
  • Instead of browsing for a file, you can drag a file from another program, such as a file browser, and drop it on to the map to start the import process.
  • There is a 1000 feature limit on features imported to the map using latitude and longitude coordinates, and a 250 feature limit for features that are geocoded from address attributes. You can import files with more than 1000 features only if your account is part of an organization in ArcGIS Online, you have publishing permissions for the organization, and you are publishing to a hosted feature service.
  • The first row in a text file can contain field names.
  • Each row in the file must contain the same kind of information; if you have data where some rows contain coordinates and some have addresses, you should split these into two separate files before importing.
  • You can import files that have different file extensions, as long as they contain comma-separated values. Use the drop-down list on the Open dialog box to browse for different types of files.
  • If your data has addresses as location information, you should ensure that you have at least Address, City, and State fields identified correctly. You can import a file where the entire address is contained in a single field if you enclose it in double quotes and separate the individual parts with commas.
  • If your data contains location information as latitude and longitude coordinates, these must be in decimal degrees.
  • If your data contains numeric information, the decimal separator must be a period (full stop), for example longitude may be specified as '51.9898'. Other characters, such as commas, are not supported as decimal separators.
  • If your data contains non-English characters, for example characters specific to the French, Russian, Greek, Japanese, or Arabic alphabets, the file you import must be encoded as Unicode or UTF-8, and not ASCII. If you import an ASCII encoded file containing non-English characters, it may display attribute values using unexpected characters. You can simply save a text file as UTF-8 or Unicode in Windows. Open the file in Notepad and choose File, then Save As, and choose UTF-8 or Unicode from the Encoding drop-down list shown at the bottom of the Save As dialog box.
  • You can only import data using coordinate locations (not addresses) when you import from a URL.
  • If you open a saved map and find that a layer imported from a URL is broken Broken layer icon, check the URL to the data is still valid by opening the URL in a web browser or text editor.
  • CSV is a common data interchange format; if your tabular data is stored in another format, such as a proprietary spreadsheet or database table, you may be able to export the data to CSV format for import.