Import native and character format data from earlier versions of SQL Server

Applies to: SQL Server Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance Azure Synapse Analytics Analytics Platform System (PDW)

In SQL Server 2014 (12.x) and later, you can use bcp to import native and character format data from SQL Server 2000 (8.x), SQL Server 2005 (9.x), SQL Server 2008 (10.0.x), SQL Server 2008 R2 (10.50.x), or SQL Server 2012 (11.x) by using the -V switch. The -V switch causes SQL Server to use data types from the specified earlier version of SQL Server, and the data file format are the same as the format in that earlier version.

To specify an earlier SQL Server version for a data file, use the -V switch with one of the following qualifiers:

SQL Server version Qualifier
SQL Server 2000 (8.x) -V80
SQL Server 2005 (9.x) -V90
SQL Server 2008 (10.0.x) -V100
SQL Server 2012 (11.x) -V 110

Interpretation of Data Types

SQL Server 2005 (9.x) and later versions have support for some new types. When you want to import a new data type into an earlier SQL Server version, the data type must be stored in a format that readable by the older bcp clients. The following table summarizes how the new data types are converted for compatibility with the earlier versions of SQL Server.

New data types in SQL Server 2005 Compatible data types in version 6x Compatible data types in version 70 Compatible data types in version 80
bigint decimal decimal *
sql_variant text nvarchar(4000) *
varchar(max) text text text
nvarchar(max) ntext ntext ntext
varbinary(max) image image image
XML ntext ntext ntext
UDT** image image image

*This type is natively supported.

**UDT indicates a user defined type.

Exporting using -V 80

When you bulk export data by using the -V80 switch, nvarchar(max), varchar(max), varbinary(max), XML, and UDT data in native mode are stored with a 4-byte prefix, like text, image, and ntext data, rather than with an 8-byte prefix, which is the default for SQL Server 2005 (9.x) and later versions.

Copying Date Values

bcp uses the ODBC bulk copy API. Therefore, to import date values into SQL Server, bcp uses the ODBC date format (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss[.f...]).

The bcp command exports character format data files using the ODBC default format for datetime and smalldatetime values. For example, a datetime column containing the date 12 Aug 1998 is bulk copied to a data file as the character string 1998-08-12 00:00:00.000.


When importing data into a smalldatetime field using bcp, be sure the value for seconds is 00.000; otherwise the operation will fail. The smalldatetime data type only holds values to the nearest minute. BULK INSERT and INSERT ... SELECT * FROM OPENROWSET(BULK...) will not fail in this instance but will truncate the seconds value.

Related Tasks

To use data formats for bulk import or bulk export

See Also

bcp Utility
Data Types (Transact-SQL)
SQL Server Database Engine Backward Compatibility
CAST and CONVERT (Transact-SQL)