Connecting with bcp

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The bcp utility is available with the Microsoft ODBC Driver for SQL Server on Linux and macOS. This page documents the differences from the Windows version of bcp.

  • The field terminator is a tab ("\t").

  • The line terminator is a newline ("\n").

  • Character mode is the preferred format for bcp format files and data files that do not contain extended characters.


A backslash '\' on a command-line argument must either be quoted or escaped. For example, to specify a newline as a custom row terminator, you must use one of the following mechanisms:

  • -r\\n
  • -r"\n"
  • -r'\n'

The following example is a command invocation of bcp to copy table rows to a text file:

bcp AdventureWorks2008R2.Person.Address out test.dat -Usa -Pxxxx  

Available Options

In the current release, the following syntax and options are available:

[database.]schema.table in data_file | out data_file

  • -a packet_size
    Specifies the number of bytes, per network packet, sent to and from the server.

  • -b batch_size
    Specifies the number of rows per batch of imported data.

  • -c
    Uses a character data type.

  • -d database_name
    Specifies the database to connect to.

  • -D
    Causes the value passed to the bcp -S option to be interpreted as a data source name (DSN). For more information, see "DSN Support in sqlcmd and bcp" in Connecting with sqlcmd.

  • -e error_file Specifies the full path of an error file used to store any rows that the bcp utility cannot transfer from the file to the database.

  • -E
    Uses an identity value or values in the imported data file for the identity column.

  • -f format_file
    Specifies the full path of a format file.

  • -F first_row
    Specifies the number of the first row to export from a table or import from a data file.

  • -G
    This switch is used by the client when connecting to Azure SQL Database or Azure Synapse Analytics to specify that the user be authenticated using Azure Active Directory authentication. The -G switch requires at least bcp version 17.6. To determine your version, execute bcp -v.


The -G option only applies to Azure SQL Database and Azure Synapse Analytics. AAD Interactive Authentication is not currently supported on Linux or macOS. AAD Integrated Authentication requires Microsoft ODBC Driver 17 for SQL Server version 17.6.1 or higher and a properly configured Kerberos environment.

  • -k
    Specifies that empty columns should retain a null value during the operation, rather than have any default values for the columns inserted.

  • -l
    Specifies a login timeout. The -l option specifies the number of seconds before a login to SQL Server times out when you try to connect to a server. The default login timeout is 15 seconds. The login timeout must be a number between 0 and 65534. If the value supplied is not numeric or does not fall into that range, bcp generates an error message. A value of 0 specifies an infinite timeout.

  • -L last_row
    Specifies the number of the last row to export from a table or import from a data file.

  • -m max_errors
    Specifies the maximum number of syntax errors that can occur before the bcp operation is canceled.

  • -n
    Uses the native (database) data types of the data to perform the bulk-copy operation.

  • -P password
    Specifies the password for the login ID.

  • -q
    Executes the SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIERS ON statement in the connection between the bcp utility and an instance of SQL Server.

  • -r row_terminator
    Specifies the row terminator.

  • -R
    Specifies that currency, date, and time data is bulk copied into SQL Server using the regional format defined for the locale setting of the client computer.

  • -S server
    Specifies the name of the SQL Server instance to connect to, or if -D is used, a DSN.

  • -t field_terminator
    Specifies the field terminator.

  • -T
    Specifies that the bcp utility connect to SQL Server with a trusted connection (integrated security).

  • -U login_id
    Specifies the login ID used to connect to SQL Server.

  • -v
    Reports the bcp utility version number and copyright.

  • -w
    Uses Unicode characters to perform the bulk copy operation.

In this release, Latin-1 and UTF-16 characters are supported.

Unavailable Options

In the current release, the following syntax and options are not available:

  • -C
    Specifies the code page of the data in the data file.

  • -h hint
    Specifies the hint or hints used during a bulk import of data into a table or view.

  • -i input_file
    Specifies the name of a response file.

  • -N
    Uses the native (database) data types of the data for noncharacter data, and Unicode characters for character data.

  • -o output_file
    Specifies the name of a file that receives output redirected from the command prompt.

  • -V (80 | 90 | 100)
    Uses data types from an earlier version of SQL Server.

  • -x
    Used with the format and -f format_file options, generates an XML-based format file instead of the default non-XML format file.

See Also

Connecting with sqlcmd
Release Notes