Importing Exporting CSV Files in PostgreSQL Databases via COPY

This is going to be a short article which will illustrate importing and exporting a table from or to a csv file using PostgreSQL  COPY command.

Importing a table from CSV

Assuming you already have a table in place with the right columns, the command is as follows

COPY <TargetTableName> FROM '/path/to/csv/SourceCSVFile.csv'  DELIMITERS  ','  CSV;

Exporting a CSV from a table.

COPY <SourceTableName> TO '/path/to/csv/TargetCSVFile' DELIMITERS ',' CSV;

Its important to mention here that generally if your data is in unicode or need strict Encoding, then Always set client_encoding before running any of the above mentioned commands.

To set CLIENT_ENCODING parameter in PostgreSQL

set client_encoding to 'UTF8'


set client_encoding to 'latin1'

Another thing to guard against is nulls, while exporting , if some fields are null then PostgreSQL will add '/N' to represent a null field, this is fine but may cause issues if you are trying to import that data in say SQL server.

A quick fix is modify the export command by specifying what would you prefer as a null placeholder in exported CSV

COPY <SourceTableName> TO '/path/to/csv/TargetCSVFile' DELIMITERS ',' NULL as E'';

Another common requirement is import or export with the header.

Import CSV to table with Header for columns present in first row of csv file.

COPY <TargetTableName> FROM '/path/to/csv/SourceCSVFile.csv' DELIMITERS ',' CSV HEADER

Export a table to CSV with Headers present in the first row.

COPY <SourceTableName> TO '/path/to/csv/TargetCSVFile' DELIMITERS ',' CSV HEADER;

A complete list of all supported settings can be found here

COPY table_name [ ( column [, ...] ) ]
    FROM { 'filename' | STDIN }
    [ [ WITH ] ( option [, ...] ) ]

COPY { table_name [ ( column [, ...] ) ] | ( query ) }
    TO { 'filename' | STDOUT }
    [ [ WITH ] ( option [, ...] ) ]

where option can be one of:

    FORMAT format_name
    OIDS [ boolean ]
    DELIMITER 'delimiter_character'
    NULL 'null_string'
    HEADER [ boolean ]
    QUOTE 'quote_character'
    ESCAPE 'escape_character'
    FORCE_QUOTE { ( column [, ...] ) | * }
    FORCE_NOT_NULL ( column [, ...] ) |
    ENCODING 'encoding_name'

Importing Exporting CSV Files in PostgreSQL Databases via COPY  by  admin