U.S. Census Bureau TIGER/Line Reader

The Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER)/Line® Reader module provides FME with access to data in the TIGER/Line format distributed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

TIGER/Line files are a digital database of geographic features, such as roads, railroads, rivers, lakes, political boundaries, census statistical boundaries, etc., that cover the entire United States. The database contains information about these features such as their location in latitude and longitude, the name, the type of feature, address ranges for most streets, the geographic relationship to other features, and other related information.

TIGER/Line files are the public product created from the Census Bureau's TIGER database of geographic formation. TIGER was developed at the Census Bureau to support the mapping and related geographic activities required by the decennial census and sample survey programs.

Note that the TIGER/Line product does not include census demographic statistics. Those are sold by the Census Bureau in a separate format not directly supported by FME, but those statistics do relate back to census blocks in TIGER/Line files.

Reader Overview

FME considers a folder of TIGER/Line data files to be a dataset. Optionally the *.rt1 file may be used as a dataset.

The folder may contain TIGER/Line files for one or more regions. The regions are counties, or county equivalents. Each county consists of a series of files with a common basename, and different extensions. For instance, county 1 in state 26 (Michigan) consists of the following file set in Tiger98:

  • TGR26001.RT1
  • TGR26001.RT2
  • TGR26001.RT3
  • TGR26001.RT4
  • TGR26001.RT5
  • TGR26001.RT6
  • TGR26001.RT7
  • TGR26001.RT8
  • TGR26001.RT9
  • TGR26001.RTA
  • TGR26001.RTC
  • TGR26001.RTH
  • TGR26001.RTI
  • TGR26001.RTP
  • TGR26001.RTR
  • TGR26001.RTS
  • TGR26001.RTZ


The reader was implemented to read TIGER/Line 98 files, but effort has gone into also ensuring compatibility with 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 TIGER/Line products.

Any TIGER/Line product from the 1990s should work with this reader, with the possible loss of some version-specific information. Attribute names are generally based on TIGER 1998 field names, even when the nominal field name in TIGER documentation is different and the interpretation has changed slightly.