Import your shapefile

Preparing the shapefile

In order to import the shapefile as expected, in addition to the mandatory file requirements in our Introduction to the Shapefile Importer article, the shapefile will need to meet the following criteria:

  • The shapefile must contain only 1 layer - The tool loops through all polygons in 1 layer, so please remove all other layers
  • Polygons must not have any holes/cutout areas - For example, a ring doughnut shape will be rejected
  • The areas will need to be singular polygons rather than multiple polygons - For example, an area that contains 2 or more non-connected polygons will not be imported.
  • The shapefile's attribute table must have a name column - please add this from within your GIS platform, then export your shapefile. 
  • The shapefile's Coordinate Reference System (CRS) must be World Geodetic System (WGS84) - please define this for your shapefile from within your GIS platform, then export your shapefile.

Please note: If you are unsure how to prepare the shapefile correctly, you may wish to liaise with your GIS team so they can provide you with a shapefile that meets the above requirements

Once you have created your shapefile, you are ready to begin uploading and importing your shapefile.

Name field

Here you will need to enter the term used in the shapefile that identifies the name-field for each area.

For example, your .dbf file should have a column which contains the name of each area to import. You should enter the text you have used in the column header to identify it as the 'area name' column.

Please note: This name field is case sensitive, so please double check before uploading/entering.

For more information, head to How to open .DBF file in Excel.

File selection

To upload your shapefile to Local Insight you will need to have your zipped shapefile ready.

Please note: The shapefile must include all of the following files: .shp, .shx, .dbf.
If the shapefile was originally created with more than required 3 files, you will need to include all of these in the zip file. Do not edit these files after exporting from your GIS platform

Click 'Choose File' and select your zip file on your computer.

Importing the shapefile

Top tip: Your areas will all be added to the category 'Uncategorised', so we recommend moving any areas you have here already into another category.

Once you have completed the above, you are ready to import the shapefile.


Clicking import will disable the button to prevent further submissions. It will then upload, check the file, and process the areas in your shapefile. This process can take around a minute to process 1000 areas.


If you have received an error and you're unsure as to what it means, take a look at our article Why has my shapefile import failed?

When will my shapefile areas be ready to use?

Once processed, you should receive a success message at the top of the screen. You will then be free to browse your custom areas to see your new areas added to the 'Uncategorised' category.  As with normal custom area creation, see our guide to viewing data for your areas - the tool will aggregate data for these custom areas one by one.

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  • 0
    Khan, Shamir

    Just tried it, this is really great, many thanks!! :D

  • 0
    Khan, Shamir

    Although I had to include the .PRJ and .QPJ for it to work.  When i tried with jus the SHP, SHX and DBF I got this error: 

    Could not import your shapefile.

    Coordinate reference system is missing from shapefile.


  • 0
    Joel Balmer

    Hi Shamir, glad you like it!

    Are these files that were also created when you exported your shapefile? If so, it sounds like this is covered above by "If the shapefile was originally created with more than required 3 files, you will need to include all of these in the zip file"

    If this is not the case here, or you think the above isn't clear enough, let us know!

  • 0
    Khan, Shamir

    Hey Joel, right you are. That's plenty clear! Thanks

  • 0
    Joel Balmer

    Great stuff Shamir, thanks for letting me know. Happy importing :)

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