Should I purchase mapping for my GPS on a disc, pre-programmed datacard, or as downloadable content?

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Mapping for Garmin devices are sold in a variety of formats. It may be purchased on a disc, as a pre-programmed datacard, or downloaded directly from the Garmin website.1 Please see below for the benefits of each format.

Pre-programmed datacards: Pre-programmed datacards are immediately ready for use out of the box. Simply unpack the card and insert it into your compatible GPS device. These maps do not need to be unlocked to your device which allows you to move the card to multiple devices if desired, however, having the Pre-Programmed card inserted in your computer's SD/microSD slot or in a connected device is required for use with BaseCamp2. City Navigator maps in this format are not eligible for map updates and mapping from the card cannot be copied. If you wish to obtain updated content, a new card will need to be purchased.

CD/DVD: Maps purchased in this format will require a DVD optical CD/DVD drive to install to the computer. The installation process will install both the mapping and the BaseCamp application to your computer. To learn more about BaseCamp and its requirements go to

  • Mapping products in this format are unlocked to a single device and they are non-transferable
  • City Navigator maps in this format can be updated by purchasing a map update, when available
  • Some devices will require an SD or microSD card to store mapping transferred from the computer

Downloadable Content: Maps purchased in this format can be downloaded directly from the Garmin website. This is the quickest method of getting mapping for your next trip. Downloaded maps can be sent to either your GPS, pending memory availability, or directly to a blank SD/microSD card. City Navigator maps in this format are not eligible for map updates. Downloadable Content will require the device, or card the maps are stored on, to be inserted in the computer for use with BaseCamp2.

Note: Before selecting your purchase option, be sure to review the requirements tab and products tab on the specific mapping product page to ensure your device and/or computer will work with the selected format.

1Not all formats are available with all map offerings. The available formats for the specific mapping product will be listed on the product page.

2Garmin's free BaseCamp application can be used to view mapping detail on your computer from compatible pre-programmed datacards or downloadable content on your computer. To find out if the map is compatible with BaseCamp, check the requirements by clicking the Requirements tab for the specific map product. BaseCamp can be downloaded at: BlueChart, BlueChart g2, BlueChart g2 Vision, LakeVu HD, and LakeVu HD Ultra downloads and pre-programmed cards can be viewed on your computer with Garmin's HomePort application. HomePort can be downloaded at:

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