Driver short name


This driver can connect to the services implementing the Carto API. GDAL/OGR must be built with Curl support in order for the Carto driver to be compiled.

The driver supports read and write operations.

Driver capabilities

Supports Create()

This driver supports the GDALDriver::Create() operation

Supports Georeferencing

This driver supports georeferencing

Dataset name syntax

The minimal syntax to open a Carto datasource is :


For single-user accounts, connection name is the account name. For multi-user accounts, connection_name must be the user name, not the account name. Additional optional parameters can be specified after the ‘:’ sign. Currently the following one is supported:

  • tables=table_name1[,table_name2]*: A list of table names. This is necessary when you need to access to public tables for example.

If several parameters are specified, they must be separated by a space.

Configuration options

The following configuration options are available :


Most operations, in particular write operations, require an authenticated access. The only exception is read-only access to public tables.

Authenticated access is obtained by specifying the API key given in the management interface of the Carto service. It is specified with the CARTO_API_KEY configuration option.


The OGR driver will report as many geometry fields as available in the layer (except the ‘the_geom_webmercator’ field), following RFC 41.


The driver will forward any spatial filter set with OGRLayer::SetSpatialFilter() to the server. It also makes the same for attribute filters set with SetAttributeFilter().


Features are retrieved from the server by chunks of 500 by default. This number can be altered with the CARTO_PAGE_SIZE configuration option.

Write support

Table creation and deletion is possible.

Write support is only enabled when the datasource is opened in update mode.

The mapping between the operations of the Carto service and the OGR concepts is the following :

  • OGRFeature::CreateFeature() <==> INSERT operation

  • OGRFeature::SetFeature() <==> UPDATE operation

  • OGRFeature::DeleteFeature() <==> DELETE operation

  • OGRDataSource::CreateLayer() <==> CREATE TABLE operation

  • OGRDataSource::DeleteLayer() <==> DROP TABLE operation

When inserting a new feature with OGRFeature::CreateFeature(), and if the command is successful, OGR will fetch the returned rowid and use it as the OGR FID.

The above operations are by default issued to the server synchronously with the OGR API call. This however can cause performance penalties when issuing a lot of commands due to many client/server exchanges.

So, on a newly created layer, the INSERT of OGRFeature::CreateFeature() operations are grouped together in chunks until they reach 15 MB (can be changed with the CARTO_MAX_CHUNK_SIZE configuration option, with a value in MB), at which point they are transferred to the server. By setting CARTO_MAX_CHUNK_SIZE to 0, immediate transfer occurs.


Don’t use OGRDataSource::DeleteLayer() and OGRDataSource::CreateLayer() to overwrite a table. Instead only call OGRDataSource::CreateLayer() with OVERWRITE=YES. This will avoid CARTO deleting maps that depend on this table


SQL commands provided to the OGRDataSource::ExecuteSQL() call are executed on the server side, unless the OGRSQL dialect is specified. You can use the full power of PostgreSQL + PostGIS SQL capabilities.

Open options

Starting with GDAL 2.0, the following open options are available:

  • BATCH_INSERT=YES/NO: Whether to group feature insertions in a batch. Defaults to YES. Only apply in creation or update mode.

  • COPY_MODE=YES/NO: Using COPY for insertions and reads can result in a performance improvement. Defaults to YES.

Layer creation options

The following layer creation options are available:

  • OVERWRITE=YES/NO: Whether to overwrite an existing table with the layer name to be created. Defaults to NO.

  • GEOMETRY_NULLABLE=YES/NO: Whether the values of the geometry column can be NULL. Defaults to YES.

  • CARTODBFY=YES/NO: Whether the created layer should be “Cartodbifi’ed” (i.e. registered in dashboard). Defaults to YES. Requires:

    • SRS: Output SRS must be EPSG:4326. You can use -a_srs or -t_srs to assign or transform to 4326 before importing.

    • Geometry type: Must be different than NONE. You can set to something generic with -nlt GEOMETRY.

  • LAUNDER=YES/NO: This may be “YES” to force new fields created on this layer to have their field names “laundered” into a form more compatible with PostgreSQL. This converts to lower case and converts some special characters like “-” and “#” to “_”. If “NO” exact names are preserved. The default value is “YES”. If enabled the table (layer) name will also be laundered.


Accessing data from a public table:

ogrinfo -ro "Carto:gdalautotest2 tables=tm_world_borders_simpl_0_3"

Creating and populating a table from a shapefile:

ogr2ogr --config CARTO_API_KEY abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw -f Carto "Carto:myaccount" myshapefile.shp

Creating and populating a table from a CSV containing geometries on EPSG:4326:

ogr2ogr --config CARTO_API_KEY abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw -f Carto "Carto:myaccount" file.csv -a_srs 4326 -nlt GEOMETRY


The -a_srs and -nlt must be provided to CARTODBFY since the information isn’t extracted from the CSV.