Geographic datum transformations

If you have data that does not share the same geographic coordinate system in a single map or scene, you need a geographic transformation. Geographic transformations translate coordinates from one geographic coordinate system to another. When you add a layer to a map with a different geographic coordinate system, a transformation is applied automatically. You can specify a different transformation to the map as necessary.

When you work with global scenes, there are only two available coordinate systems from which to choose: World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84) or China Geodetic Coordinate System 2000 (CGCS 2000). In the case of CGCS 2000, there are no publicly available transformations. In the absence of a custom transformation, data added to a scene that uses CGCS 2000 will remain in or be transformed to WGS84. In or near China, WGS84 closely matches CGCS 2000, but datum shifts may be substantial elsewhere on the globe.

Geographic transformations make it easy to view data together when it has different coordinate systems, but applying a transformation comes with costs in drawing performance and accuracy. To edit or perform analysis on your data, it is good practice to work with data in the same coordinate system. Use the Project tool to project vector spatial data from one coordinate system to another. If you are working with raster data, use the Project Raster tool instead.

Apply a coordinate system transformation

To apply a transformation, right-click the map or scene in the Contents pane and click Properties. On the Map Properties dialog box, click the Transformation tab. The horizontal coordinate system of the map is shown on the dialog box, along with the vertical coordinate system if one is defined. Choose the geographic coordinate system to which you want to apply a transformation. Select the transformation method, or series of methods if no direct transformation is available. Methods are sorted by accuracy and location of your data.


Some transformations that require files are not installed with the ArcGIS Pro installation. You can download and install the ArcGIS Pro Coordinate System Data files at The additional files are the EGM2008 and GEOID12b geoid models; VERTCON files; GEOCON v1; and three NTv2 files for Switzerland, XRail, and OSTN15.

Show a warning if a transformation has been applied

Spatial data is projected in real time ("on the fly") whenever the native coordinate system of a layer does not match that defined by the map or scene it is in. This happens with the automatic application of a transformation. It is useful to know when a transformation has been applied, especially if you will be creating or editing data in the layer. To ensure that you are always aware of this state, you can choose to enable transformation warnings.

Click the Project tab and click the Options tab. On the Options dialog box, click the Map and Scene tab. Expand the Spatial Reference heading and check Warn if transformation between geographic coordinate system is required to align data sources correctly.

With this option enabled, a warning appears anytime you add data to a map or scene that requires a geographic coordinate system transformation. You can click OK on the dialog box to accept the transformation, or choose a different one.

Download the list of supported geographic and vertical transformations.

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