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Import and Export Bulk Data by Using the bcp Utility (SQL Server)

This topic provides an overview for using the bcp utility to export data from anywhere in a SQL Server database where a SELECT statement works, including partitioned views.

The bcp utility (Bcp.exe) is a command-line tool that uses the Bulk Copy Program (BCP) API. The bcp utility performs the following tasks:

  • Bulk exports data from a SQL Server table into a data file.

  • Bulk exports data from a query.

  • Bulk imports data from a data file into a SQL Server table.

  • Generates format files.

The bcp utility is accessed by the bcp command. To use the bcp command to bulk import data, you must understand the schema of the table and the data types of its columns, unless you are using a pre-existing format file.

The bcp utility can export data from a SQL Server table to a data file for use in other programs. The utility can also import data into a SQL Server table from another program, usually another database management system (DBMS). The data is first exported from the source program to a data file and then, in a separate operation, copied from the data file into a SQL Server table.

The bcp command provides switches that you use to specify the data type of the data file and other information. If these switches are not specified, the command prompts for formatting information, such as the type of data fields in a data file. The command then asks whether you want to create a format file that contains your interactive responses. If you want flexibility for future bulk-import or bulk-export operations, a format file is often useful. You can specify the format file on later bcp commands for equivalent data files. For more information, see Specify Data Formats for Compatibility when Using bcp (SQL Server).


The bcp utility is written by using the ODBC bulk-copy

For a description of the bcp command syntax, see bcp Utility.


For bcp examples, see:

See Also


INSERT (Transact-SQL)

SELECT Clause (Transact-SQL)

bcp Utility




Prepare to Bulk Import Data (SQL Server)

Bulk Import and Export of Data (SQL Server)

Create a Format File (SQL Server)