what3words provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. We have divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address.

Better addressing can enhance customer experience, deliver business efficiency, drive growth and support social and economic development.

Watch our short film and read more detail on the system below.

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Simple yet accurate

The what3words algorithm takes complex GPS coordinates and converts them into unique 3 word addresses. It means anyone can talk about anywhere with 3 simple words.


what3words is useful where street addresses don’t exist and provides a level of specificity when they are not accurate enough.


Words are easier to remember and less prone to error when communicating than alternatives.


The what3words system is fixed and will never change. It provides a consistent location language across industries, countries & globally.


what3words is available in over 35 languages, including: Afrikaans, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Mongolian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telegu, Thai and Turkish. We are working on many more.



The what3words system uses a mathematical algorithm, held in a package around 20MB in size. As such, it will comfortably fit on a modern smartphone. It means that you can search for a 3 word address online and offline, or where a data connection is unreliable.

Error detection

3 word addresses are intentionally randomised and unrelated to the squares around them. To avoid confusion, similar sounding addresses are also placed as far from each other as possible. The app will account for spelling errors and other typing mistakes and make suggestions, based on 3 word addresses nearby.

Built for voice input

You can now search for a 3 word address by just speaking it. This vastly improves how we navigate when driving, particularly where street names are ambiguous or conventional street address searches drop pins in the centre of buildings, rather than at the entrance.

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Addressing around the world isn’t suitable for everyday needs. Street addresses can be inaccurate or ambiguous. Road names are repetitive. Homes and businesses are often located far from the centre of their postcode. And much of the world simply isn’t addressed – from informal settlements to the park where you’ve planned to meet friends, or the precise location where you’re waiting for the cab to collect you.

As we continue to integrate new technologies into our daily lives, so the role of precise and reliable addressing becomes ever more important.


Not fit for purpose

Poor addressing means deliveries go astray, businesses can’t be found, aid doesn’t get through, remote assets are difficult to manage and friends fail to meet up. At best, it’s expensive and frustrating. At worst, it hampers growth and development, restricts social mobility and affects lives.

Irregular and incomplete

75% of the world suffers from poor addressing or none at all. The other 25% still lacks universal coverage. Whilst improvements have been made in mapping and navigation, defining exactly where “there” is remains a big issue.

A wealth of opportunity

Precise and consistent location referencing can not only improve global addressing, it could also connect you to untapped customer bases and new industry sectors. 3 word addresses can become the answer to a wealth of problems.

Living off-grid

The UN estimates that 4 billion people lack a reliable way to address their homes. They struggle to open bank accounts, register a birth or access electricity or water supplies, becoming invisible to the state.

what3words was created because addressing around the world simply isn’t good enough for everyday needs. Originally from the music industry, Chris Sheldrick identified the need for a better addressing system, after bands and equipment kept getting lost.

Chris enlisted the help of two friends, Jack Waley-Cohen and Mohan Ganesalingam, to devise the core algorithm, build the first wordlist and create the app and website. The three co-founded what3words in 2013 and remain a driving force behind the company.

Meet the full team

what3words powers

Find out how to use what3words in your business:

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