What is a MIF file?

What is a MIF file (Mapinfo Interchange Format)?

A MIF file format, also called a Mapinfo Interchange Format, is a map and database exporting file format of MapInfo software product. The MIF-file filename usually ends with .mif-suffix. The MIF file contains information about the projection and contains the data that is needed to draw the map features (point, line or polygon) on the map. In most cases the MIF file also needs a MID file that contains the data attributes, but this file isn’t mandatory. The MIF format is a format that is used by Mapinfo mapping software.

What software opens a MIF file?

  • Mapinfo
  • Arcgis
  • QGIS
  • Tableau Software


A complete MIF dataset contains more information about the map feature. This example of a 2-digit ZIP code file of the Netherlands contains the following specifications:

What is a MIF file?
  • The first 3 lines contain the header information
  • The 4th line defines the projection of the table
  • The 5th line specifies the number of associated data attributes and shows the number of columns in a dataset.
  • The 6th up until the 9th line defines the type and length of every column. In this example, the MIF file contains the following columns “pc2”, “cartodb_id”, “created_at” and “updated_at”.
  • The 10th line contains “Data”. This means the start of the GIS data.
  • The 11th line contains the type of objects. The most common types of objects used in MIF files are: Point, Line, Polyline or Region. In this example, the data contains “Region” objects.
  • The 12th line contains the number of coordinates that eventually create a the Region on the map.
  • The following 331 lines contain the coordinates that create the 2-digit ZIP code areas on the map.
  • The last 2 lines contain the style of the objects.

To add extra information to the map features you also need the following file (not mandatory):

  • MID file (.mid) – The MID-file often contains data that is associated to a specific GIS object. These MID-files are stored in a csv format with no column titles.

Associated filename extensions

  • .mif
  • .mid