Working on the two UTM zone boundary

We often have the problem of working in the limits of the UTM zone, and we see ourselves as sticks because the coordinates there do not work.

Because the problem

I explained some time ago How the UTM coordinates work, here I am just going to focus on the problem. The following graph shows how between Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua there is a change between zones 16 and 17; which implies that those coordinates marked in white circles are repeated. A point taken in the Honduran Mosquitia, if it is not said that it is in zone 17, it would fall in Guatemala in zone 16, while the one on the Nicaraguan Atlantic coast would fall in the Pacific Ocean, the same would happen with one in the Isla del Caño in Costa Rica.

Work in different zones utm

This is because the UTM grid takes a central meridian, with an x ​​coordinate of 500,000, and from there it continues until reaching the zone limit. This way they will never be negative. But consequently, the coordinates are not unique, they are repeated in each area and in each hemisphere.

How to solve it

I'm going to use this example using Microstation Geographics now Bentley Map, it should be similar to AutoCAD: I want to georeference an image, having the four coordinates of its corners. In UTM it is impossible, because when entering the points, two will fall in Guatemala.

1 Convert UTM coordinates to geographical coordinates. This can be done with any program that is out there, before I presented a sheet Excel that does these times. As a result we will have this:


2 Change the coordinate system in Microstation. This is so that we can enter the points in that format.

Work in different zones utmIt is made with:  Tools> coordinate systems> master

Here we select the first icon (Edit master) and we indicate that the coordinate system is geographic. Always keeping the Datum WGS84.

Then we select from this panel the option Master and we save. The system is going to ask us some questions, to make sure we know what it implies, we accept all three times. From now on, we can enter the coordinates in latitude / longitude.

Work in different zones utm3. Enter the coordinates.  This, for being few points is done via keyin; activating the command point, then from the keyin we write:

Xy = -85.1419,16.2190

Work in different zones utmWe do the same for others:

  • Xy = -83.0558,16.1965, enter
  • Xy = -83.0786,14.2661, enter
  • Xy = -85.1649,14.2885, enter

If you do not want to break the coconut you can save them in a txt and import them with the command that is Done for that.

Georeferencing the image.

Work in different zones utmThe result of entering the points is there, on both sides of the boundary of the zone.

All we do now is load the image. This is done from the raster manager, indicating that the image is going to be loaded interactively and indicating the upper left point and then the lower right.

There they have it:

Work in different zones utm

 What about the plots:

Something similar would happen with the properties that are divided by the zone limit; what is done is that the vertices are converted to geographic locations to have a single display. An ideal is in that area to raise points by configuring the GPS to capture geographic coordinates.

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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  1. I'm not sure I understand what you're occupying.
    If it falls between two zones you would have to rethink it using geographic coordinates, latitude / longitude type.
    How do you originally have them?


  3. One option is to send them to Google Earth and check it there by activating the degree grid. Greetings to the land of lakes and volcanoes; when we pass by there we eat a barbecue.

  4. I have the following problem
    I have coordinates in XY format, some of these fall in the 16 ZONE but I suspect that others fall in the 17 ZONE, how can I know which ZONE they are from?

  5. I have points in wgs84 zone 17N and I want to show them in a shape of the whole country that is in wgs 84 zone 17 South, when doing project in arcgis 10.2 I get error, thanks for your help

  6. His excellent technical pedagogy, I hope to continue learning this knowledge and then execute through their programs. I will send the necessary consultation and in advance I wish you success is your high technology applied to Geodesy and Topography.

  7. That is inevitable.
    You can change the false east, so that the central meridian is in a length that allows you to have everything in one fringe. With the disadvantage that your coordinates change.
    The other way is to work in latitudes and longitudes.

  8. Friend I am working in Arcgis 9.3, you know how I could change to only one area.

    thank you very much for your help

  9. Hello friend could you help me, I have information form of my study area in two different zones 17S and 18S, they are in the same reference system WGS84. This makes the information present a displacement because it is in different zones and I need them to be alone in 18S.

    Congratulations on your blog


  10. Good old your blog, but so much publicity everybody is scared, it seems that you are desperate, I know that you are not going to approve of me, before it was quality, but the bills changed the conception of your “work”.

  11. I dont know. It would have to prove, the images can carry their own projections, but when creating a new map of deployment this can be in geographical coordinates and therefore they should be reproyectar to the flight.

  12. And in Manifold, how can two orthophotos (from the PNOA, UTM) be combined with a different spindle?
    Thank you

  13. Hi, the truth is that the explanation is very good, but I would like you to write an article about how you work in an overlapping area.

    The problem I have is that my country BOLIVIA is in three spindle 19, 20 and 21 and I have coordinates, most of these are in the spindle 19, but part of it enters the spindle 20 (zone of overlap).

    What I want to ask is to have to work on both spindles or only on a single spindle.

    In advance thanks for your collaboration and the truth that the page is great, go ahead and again thanks for your collaboration.

  14. I suppose you talk about data without a georeference. Likewise, you assign them a reference point and move them, those that fall in the other zone transform them to latitudes and longitudes.

  15. This is a good way to work, BUT THERE IS A DETAIL, as you adjust the overlap points when you have done it with electronic theodolite

  16. This is a good way to work, BUT THERE IS A DETAIL, as you adjust the overlap points when you have done it with electronic theodolite

  17. That such a friend congratulate him for his blog, few people in this universe share part of their time in support of the collective in the various applications of engineering and civil engineering, and I have been following for some months follow up to the issues that you spread through this medium , Part of them have been used as tools for a short time, since in the labor field I find myself as a cadista and as my particular independent aspect I have a total station SOKKIA 630RK, and although my work newspaper prevents me from dedicating myself to the topography always I am looking for topics that keep me updated on all the products of cartography and civil engineering, well not to extend I say goodbye.

    Atte: Emerson Marin
    Venezuela, Anaco Edo. Anzoategui.

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