December 2021

Using Georeferenced Layers in QGIS

This guide explains how to add georeferenced maps to QGIS as either XYZ or WMTS tilesets.

View a Brief layers list or Where to Find Layer URLs (in our Explore Georeferenced Maps viewer).

Once you've selected a map, copy the associated XYZ or WMTS URL depending on your choice of method. Next, launch QGIS and follow the appropriate XYZ or WMTS guide:

I. Adding XYZ Tilesets in QGIS

II. Adding WMTS Tilesets in QGIS

I. Adding XYZ Tilesets in QGIS

  1. From the left-hand Browser Panel, right-click on XYZ Tiles and select New Connection.

    (Tip: Make sure your Coordinate Reference System (CRS) is set to (WGS 84) EPSG: 3857/ Google Spherical Mercator. Click the CRS tool from the menu bar at the bottom of your screen, which also contains the scale and magnifier options. Navigate to the correct CRS in the new dialog box which appears and select OK).
    QGIS interface for adding XYZ layers
  2. Paste the XYZ URL into the dialog box and select OK. To find URLs view our Brief layers list or read Where to Find Layer URLs (in our Explore Georeferenced Maps viewer).
    QGIS interface showing the XYZ URL
  3. In the new XYZ Tile Layer dialog box enter a suitable name for your map and select OK.
    QGIS interface showing the new XYZ Tile name
  4. Finally, double-click XYZ Tiles in the left-hand Browser Panel. The new XYZ Tile layer should appear underneath the XYZ Tiles option, double click it to add the georeferenced map to your project.
    QGIS interface showing added XYZ Tile Layer

II. Adding WMTS Tilesets in QGIS

  1. From the Layer menu, select Layer > Add WMS/WMTS Layer.
    QGIS interface for adding WMTS Tiles
  2. In the dialog box make sure the layers tab is select before clicking New.
    QGIS interface of the dialog box for adding layer(s) from a WM(T)S Server
  3. Give your layer a suitable name and add the WMTS URL. Press OK. To find URLs view our Brief layers list or read Where to Find Layer URLs (in our Explore Georeferenced Maps viewer).
    QGIS interface for creating a new WMS connection
  4. Back in the Add Layer(s) from a WM(T)S Server dialog box, click Connect.
    QGIS interface of the dialog box for adding layer(s) from a WM(T)S Server
  5. The dialog box should switch to the Tilesets tab, and the name of your layer should appear. Select your layer and click Add.
    QGIS interface showing WMTS layer in Tileset Tab
  6. Select Close to exit the dialog box.
  7. You should now see your map as a layer inside your QGIS project.
    QGIS interface showing added WMTS layer

View related pages:

How to find URLs of georeferenced layers:

View our Guide to re-using georeferenced maps.

If you have further suggestions or comments on this guide, please contact us at maps@nls.uk.