Guidelines for Developers

The Distance Matrix API: Google Maps Alternative

Introduction
Before you begin
This document is intended for developers who wish to compute travel distance and time between some points. It provides an introduction to using the API and reference material on the available parameters.

The Distance Matrix API is an HTTP API service that provides travel distance and time for a location matrix. Calculations are made for all possible combinations between the starting point to the destination. The API returns information that is based on the recommended route between the start and end points, as calculated by the Distance Matrix API, and consists of rows containing duration and distance values for each pair. Time periods are based on predictive traffic information, depending on the start time specified in the request.

The API response contains a distance matrix in JSON format, as well as information about the duration of each constructed route section in the matrix. The calculated travel time for a route section always accounts for the current traffic conditions and the traffic forecast. The Distance Matrix API works worldwide and is available for driving, walking, bicycling and transit travel modes.

You can use the API to find the destination point that is the closest to the point of origin or for any other purpose. The Matrix API will always return a duration and a distance on the fastest route for each element in the matrix, where an element is an origin-destination pair in the matrix.

For example, there are three starting locations A, B, and C, and three destination locations E, B, and D, the Matrix API will return the matrix of all travel time in seconds and distances in meters between the locations:
The Matrix API returns durations in seconds and distances in meters. It does not return route geometries.

The Duration and distance between points may not be symmetric, since the routes may differ by direction due to one-way streets or turn restrictions. For example, A to B may have a different duration than B to A.
Distance Matrix Requests
Request Parameters
The Distance Matrix API request was created specifically to be similar to the Google Distance Matrix API request format. You can get more information on the Migrate to DistanceMatrix.ai API page.
A Distance Matrix API request takes the following form:
GET
https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json
?origins=<origin_location_1|origin_location_2|...|origin_location_n>
&destinations=<destination_location_1|destination_location_2|...|destination_location_n>
&key=<your_access_token>
A Distance Matrix API request example:
GET
https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.4822656,-0.1933769&destinations=51.4994794,-0.1269979&key=<your_access_token>
Required Parameters
  • origins — a starting point for calculating travel distance and time. You can supply one or more locations separated by the pipe character (|) in the form of an address or latitude/longitude coordinates:
1. If you pass an address, the service geocodes the string and converts it to a latitude/longitude coordinate to calculate the distance. This coordinate may be different from that returned by the Geocoding API, for example, a building entrance rather than its center.
    Show example
    Example request with addresses:
    GET
    https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom&destinations=St John's Church, North End Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1PB, United Kingdom&key=<your_access_token>
    Response
    BODY
    {
      "destination_addresses": [
        "St John's Church, North End Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1PB, United Kingdom"
      ],
      "origin_addresses": [
        "Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom"
      ],
      "rows": [
        {
          "elements": [
            {
              "distance": {
                "text": "6.5 km",
                "value": 6477
              },
              "duration": {
                "text": "21 min",
                "value": 1287
              },
              "status": "OK"
            }
          ]
        }
      ],
      "status": "OK"
    }
    2. If you pass latitude/longitude coordinates, they are used unchanged to calculate distance. Ensure that no space exists between the latitude and longitude values.
    Show example
    Example request with coordinates:
    GET
    https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.4822656,-0.1933769&destinations=51.4994794,-0.1269979&key=<your_access_token>
    Response
    BODY
    {
      "destination_addresses": [
        "Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK"
      ],
      "origin_addresses": [
        "Chapel, Fulham, London SW6 1BA, UK"
      ],
      "rows": [
        {
          "elements": [
            {
              "distance": {
                "text": "7.6 km",
                "value": 7561
              },
              "duration": {
                "text": "22 min",
                "value": 1303
              },
              "status": "OK"
            }
          ]
        }
      ],
      "status": "OK"
    }
    • destinations — one or more locations to use as the final destination for calculating travel distance and time. The options for the destination parameter are the same as for the original parameter, as described above.
    • key — the API key of your application
    Optional Parameters
    • mode (defaults to driving) — specifies the mode of transport to use when calculating distance. Valid values and other request details are specified in the Travel Modes section of this document.

    • language — a language that is used to return results.
      • See the list of supported languages.
      • If language is not supplied, the API attempts to use the preferred language as specified in the Accept-Language header, or the native language of the domain from which the request is sent.
      • The API does its best to provide a street address that is readable for both the user and locals. To achieve that goal, it returns street addresses in the local language, transliterated to a script readable by the user if necessary, observing the preferred language. All other addresses are returned in the preferred language. Address components are all returned in the same language, which is chosen from the first component.
      • If a name is not available in the preferred language, the API uses the closest match.
      • The preferred language has a small influence on the set of results that the API chooses to return, and the order in which they are returned. The geocoder interprets abbreviations differently depending on language, such as the abbreviations for street types, or synonyms that may be valid in one language but not in another. For example, utca and tér are synonyms for street in Hungarian.

    • avoid — introduces restrictions to the route. Valid values are specified in the Restrictions section of this document. Only one restriction can be specified.

    • units — specifies the unit system to use when expressing distance as text. See the Unit Systems section of this document for more information.

    • arrival_time — specifies the desired time of arrival for transit requests, in seconds since midnight, January 1, 1970, UTC. You can specify either departure_time or arrival_time, but not both. Note that arrival_time must be specified as an integer
      Show example
      Request example with arrival_time:
      GET
      https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.507033,-0.1277161&destinations=52.486243,-1.890401&arrival_time=now&transit_mode=bus&mode=transit&key=<your_access_token>
      Response
      BODY
      {
        "destination_addresses": [
          "Birmingham B4 7DL, UK"
        ],
        "origin_addresses": [
          "Whitehall, Westminster, London, UK"
        ],
        "rows": [
          {
            "elements": [
              {
                "distance": {
                  "text": "202.4 km",
                  "value": 202400
                },
                "duration": {
                  "text": "2 h 20 min",
                  "value": 8421
                },
                "status": "OK"
              }
            ]
          }
        ],
        "status": "OK"
      }
        • departure_time — a desired time of the departure. You can specify the time as an integer in seconds since midnight, January 1, 1970, UTC. Alternatively, you can specify a value of now, which sets the departure time to the current time (correct to the nearest second). The departure_time must be set to the current time or some time in the future. It cannot be in the past. Results for a given request may vary over time due to the changes in the road network, updated average traffic conditions, and the distributed nature of the service. Results may also vary between nearly-equivalent routes at any time or frequency. The departure time may be specified in two cases:
          • For requests where the travel mode is transit: You can optionally specify one of departure_time or arrival_time. If neither time is specified, the departure_time defaults to now (that is, the departure time defaults to the current time).
          • For requests where the travel mode is driving: You can specify the departure_time to receive a route and trip duration (response field: duration_in_traffic) that take traffic conditions into account. The departure_time must be set to the current time or some time in the future. It cannot be in the past.
          • Note: If departure time is not specified, choice of route and duration are based on road network and average time-independent traffic conditions. Results for a given request may vary over time due to changes in the road network, updated average traffic conditions, and the distributed nature of the service. Results may also vary between nearly-equivalent routes at any time or frequency.
        Show example
        Example request with departure_time:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.507033,-0.1277161&destinations=52.486243,-1.890401&departure_time=now&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Birmingham B4 7DL, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Whitehall, Westminster, London, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "202.4 km",
                    "value": 202399
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "2 h 18 min",
                    "value": 8294
                  },
                  "duration_in_traffic": {
                    "text": "2 hour 0 mins",
                    "value": 7200
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        • traffic_model (defaults to best_guess) — specifies the assumptions to use when calculating time in traffic. This setting affects the value returned in the duration_in_traffic field in the response, which contains the predicted time in traffic based on historical averages. The traffic_model parameter may only be specified for requests where the travel mode is driving, and where the request includes a departure_time. The available values for this parameter are:
          • best_guess (default) indicates that the returned duration_in_traffic should be the best estimate of travel time given what is known about both historical traffic conditions and live traffic. Live traffic becomes more important the closer the departure_time is to now.
          • pessimistic indicates that the returned duration_in_traffic should be longer than the actual travel time on most days, though occasional days with particularly bad traffic conditions may exceed this value.
          • optimistic indicates that the returned duration_in_traffic should be shorter than the actual travel time on most days, though occasional days with particularly good traffic conditions may be faster than this value.

        Show example
        Example request with traffic_model:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.507033,-0.1277161&destinations=52.486243,-1.890401&traffic_model=pessimistic&departure_time=now&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Birmingham B4 7DL, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Whitehall, Westminster, London, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "202.4 km",
                    "value": 202400
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "2 h 20 min",
                    "value": 8421
                  },
                  "duration_in_traffic": {
                    "text": "3 hour 0 mins",
                    "value": 10800
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        • transit_mode — specifies one or more preferred modes of transit. This parameter may only be specified for requests where the mode is transit. The parameter supports the following arguments:
          • bus indicates that the calculated route should prefer travel by bus.
          • subway indicates that the calculated route should prefer travel by subway.
          • train indicates that the calculated route should prefer travel by train.
          • tram indicates that the calculated route should prefer travel by tram and light rail.
          • rail indicates that the calculated route should prefer travel by train, tram, light rail, and subway. This is equivalent to transit_mode=train|tram|subway.
        Show example
        Request example with arrival_time:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.507033,-0.1277161&destinations=52.486243,-1.890401&transit_mode=bus|train|tram|subway&mode=transit&departure_time=now&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Birmingham B4 7DL, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Whitehall, Westminster, London, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "202.4 km",
                    "value": 202399
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "2 h 20 min",
                    "value": 8421
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        Travel Modes
        For the calculation of distances, you may specify the transportation mode to use. By default, distances are calculated for the driving mode. The following travel modes are supported:

        • driving (default) indicates distance calculation using the road network.
        • walking requests distance calculation for walking via pedestrian paths & sidewalks (where available).
        • bicycling requests distance calculation for bicycling via bicycle paths & preferred streets (where available).
        • transit requests distance calculation via public transit routes (where available). If you set the mode to transit you need specify either a departure_time or an arrival_time. If neither time is specified, the departure_time defaults to now (that is, the departure time defaults to the current time). You need also include a transit_mode.
        Show example
        Example request with travel modes:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.4822656,-0.1933769&destinations=51.4994794,-0.1269979&mode=walking&departure_time=now&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Chapel, Fulham, London SW6 1BA, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "6.2 km",
                    "value": 6187
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "1 h 19 min",
                    "value": 4723
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        Traffic Information
        Traffic information is used when all the following apply (these are the conditions required to receive the duration_in_traffic field in the Distance Matrix response):

        • The travel mode parameter is driving, or it is not specified (driving is the default travel mode).
        • The request includes a valid departure_time parameter. The departure_time can be set to the current time or some other time.
        Optionally, you can include the traffic_model parameter in your request to specify the assumptions to use when calculating time in traffic.
        Show example
        Example request with traffic information:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.4822656,-0.1933769&destinations=51.4994794,-0.1269979&mode=driving&departure_time=now&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Chapel, Fulham, London SW6 1BA, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "7.6 km",
                    "value": 7561
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "20 min",
                    "value": 1205
                  },
                  "duration_in_traffic": {
                    "text": "16 mins",
                    "value": 960
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        Restrictions
        Distances may be calculated that adhere to certain restrictions. Restrictions are indicated by the use of the avoid parameter and an argument to that parameter indicating the restriction to avoid. The following restrictions are supported:

        • avoid=tolls
        • avoid=highways
        • avoid=ferries
        • avoid=indoor
        * Note: the addition of restrictions does not preclude routes that include the restricted feature; it simply biases the result to more favorable routes.
        Show example
        Example request with restrictions:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.4822656,-0.1933769&destinations=51.4994794,-0.1269979&mode=driving&departure_time=now&avoid=ferries&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Chapel, Fulham, London SW6 1BA, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "7.6 km",
                    "value": 7561
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "20 min",
                    "value": 1205
                  },
                  "duration_in_traffic": {
                    "text": "18 mins",
                    "value": 1080
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        Unit Systems
        Distance Matrix results contain text within distance fields to indicate the distance of the calculated route. The unit system to use can be specified:

        • units=metric (default) returns distances in kilometers and meters.
        • units=imperial returns distances in miles and feet.
        Show example
        Example request with unit system:
        GET
        https://api.distancematrix.ai/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=51.4822656,-0.1933769&destinations=51.4994794,-0.1269979&departure_time=now&units=imperial&key=<your_access_token>
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Chapel, Fulham, London SW6 1BA, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "4.7 miles",
                    "value": 7561
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "20 min",
                    "value": 1205
                  },
                  "duration_in_traffic": {
                    "text": "18 mins",
                    "value": 1080
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        * Note: this unit system setting only affects the text displayed within distance fields. The distance fields also contain values which are always expressed in meters.
        Distance Matrix Responses
        Response example
        The response contains an array of rows objects, each row containing one origin paired with each destination. Each element of the object in the array contains the properties of a single route variant. For the detailed description of elements, see the section Distance Matrix Response Elements.
        Response
        BODY
        {
          "destination_addresses": [
            "Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK"
          ],
          "origin_addresses": [
            "Chapel, Fulham, London SW6 1BA, UK"
          ],
          "rows": [
            {
              "elements": [
                {
                  "distance": {
                    "text": "4.7 miles",
                    "value": 7565
                  },
                  "duration": {
                    "text": "22 min",
                    "value": 1306
                  },
                  "status": "OK"
                }
              ]
            }
          ],
          "status": "OK"
        }
        Distance Matrix Response Elements
        Distance Matrix responses contain the following root elements
        • status contains metadata on the request. See Status Codes below.
        • origin_addresses contain an array of addresses as returned by the API from your original request. These are formatted by the geocoder and localized according to the language parameter passed with the request.
        • destination_addresses contain an array of addresses returned by the API from your initial request. As with origin_addresses, these are localized if appropriate.
        • rows contain an array of elements, which in turn contain status, duration, and distance element.
        Status Codes
        The status fields within the response object contain the status of the request and may contain useful debugging information. The Distance Matrix API returns a top-level status field with information about the request in general, as well as a status field for each element field with information about that particular origin-destination pairing.
        Top-level Status Codes
        • OK indicates the response and contains a valid result.
        • INVALID_REQUEST indicates that the provided request was invalid.
        • MAX_ELEMENTS_EXCEEDED indicates that the product of origin and destination exceeds the per-query limit.
        • OVER_DAILY_LIMIT indicates any of the following:
          • The API key is missing or invalid.
          • Billing has not been enabled on your account.
          • A self-imposed usage cap has been exceeded.
          • The provided method of payment is no longer valid (for example, a credit card has expired).
        • OVER_QUERY_LIMIT indicates the service has received too many requests from your application within the allowed time period.
        • REQUEST_DENIED indicates that the service denied the use of the Distance Matrix service by your application.
        • UNKNOWN_ERROR indicates a Distance Matrix request could not be processed due to a server error. The request may succeed if you try again.
        Element-level Status Codes
        • OK indicates the response and contains a valid result.
        • NOT_FOUND indicates that the origin and/or destination of this pairing could not be geocoded.
        • ZERO_RESULTS indicates that no route could be found between the origin and destination.
        • MAX_ROUTE_LENGTH_EXCEEDED indicates that the requested route is too long and cannot be processed.
        Error Messages
        When the top-level status code is other than OK, there may be an additional error_message field within the Distance Matrix response object. This field contains more detailed information about the reasons behind the given status code.
        Rows
        When the Distance Matrix API returns results, it places them within a JSON row array. Even if no results are returned (such as when the origins and/or destinations don't exist), it still returns an empty array.

        Rows are ordered according to the values in the origin parameter of the request. Each row corresponds to an origin, and each element within that row corresponds to a pairing of the origin with a destination value.

        Each row array contains one or more element entries, which in turn contain the information about a single origin-destination pairing.
        Elements
        The information about each origin-destination pairing is returned in an element entry. An element contains the following fields:

        • status: See Status Codes for a list of possible status codes.
        • duration: The length of time it takes to travel this route, expressed in seconds (the value field) and as text.
        • duration_in_traffic: The length of time it takes to travel this route, based on current and historical traffic conditions.
        • distance: The total distance of this route, expressed in meters (value) and as text. The textual value uses the unit system specified with the unit parameter of the original request, or the origin's region.
        Easy to integrate the Distance Matrix API
        Our case studies
        Start a free 7-day trial of the Distance Matrix API for Business
        No credit card required, cancel any time