The GetCapabilities request provides the following information about a WMS service:

The following parameters can be used in a GetCapabilities request. See the WMS Specification documentation for detailed descriptions of each parameter.

Request Parameter Required/Optional Description
VERSION=version O Request version. Valid values are 1.0.0, 1.1.0, and 1.1.1.
REQUEST=GetCapabilities R Request name.
SERVICE=WMS R Service type. "WMS" is the only valid value.
(vendor specific)
O By default, the capabilities of the default WMS service is queried. If you want to use a non-default service, the service name must be included in the URL.


Example 1: Using the minimum amount of parameters

This example shows the minimum number of parameters needed to make a successful GetCapabilities request. This example uses the default WMS service, which is the service name you selected in the WMS Connector Administrator. For more information about the Administrator page, see Using the WMS Connector Administrator.



Example 2: Specifying a nondefault WMS service

In this next example, a non-default WMS service is specified.



Note: Hard returns added to URL for readability

A second way to specify a non-default WMS service does not use the SERVICENAME parameter.




The response to a GetCapabilities request is a Capabilities file in XML format. For more information on the content of a Capabilities file, see About the Capabilities File.


By default, the GetCapabilities response returns an XML structure containing error information if the WMS service detected an error and the EXCEPTIONS parameter was set to application/vnd.ogc.wms_xml.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<ServiceExceptionReport version="1.1.1">
Missing SERVICE parameter

You will always receive an error if the HTTP request is improperly formatted or a required parameter is missing. Common error messages are:

Problem Error message
REQUEST missing Missing mandatory REQUEST parameter. Possibilities are {capabilities|GetCapabilities|map|GetMap|feature_info|GetFeatureInfo}
SERVICE missing Missing SERVICE parameter
Invalid SERVICE Invalid SERVICE value, it should be WMS.