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CiviCRM Documentation


Developer Resources


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Importing Data

You will need to import your data initially and may need to do recurring data imports to update CiviCRM.

If your organization has contact records in MS Access©, Excel© or other applications, you can easily import them into CiviCRM.

If you want to understand the structure of the civiCRM fields that you want to import, it can be very helpful if you first create some temporary records in civiCRM with all the types of data that you intend importing. Then do an export, including from civiMember and civiContribute etc. This will provide a very useful guide for how to approach the import process.

Before Importing, be sure to eliminate any duplicates in your import files.

Configure and use Find and Merge Duplicate Contacts to check for data that might already exist.

From the main CiviCRM menu choose Import

The menu will open to allow you to choose to Import Contacts or Activity History:

Contacts means a file with information on individuals, households or organizations.
Activity History means a file with information on meetings, phone calls, etc.

The default is Contacts, so only if you are importing Activity History do you need to click that option.

Select the type you want to import. You will be brought to the appropriate Upload Data screen.

Files must be in the 'comma-separated-values' format (CSV) and UTF8 encoded

Most applications will allow you to export records in this format. Consult the documentation for your application if you're not sure how to do this. Also note that files must be UTF8 encoded if they contain special characters (e.g. accented letters, etc.).
Go to Administer CiviCRM » Global Settings » Configure » Localization » Import / Export Field Separator to set the field separator used in your import data file.

Some issues to look out for with Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel has some quirks in the way it creates CSV files which can cause problems, particularly if your data includes European or Asian names. There's a fairly simple process to make Excel behave

Save the CSV file you want to import to your local hard drive (or an accessible drive on your network) before you continue.

There are 4 steps in the Import process:

If you think that you will use version 2.2 doing telemarketing via voip is better also that you import also Country in csv files, to have the right country code prefix in links to do voip calls with a click.

If you have a lot of records, you may want to add the following line to the end of civicrm.settings.php:
ini_set('max_execution_time', 0); // won't work if running in safe mode
Also if you are using Joomla you may want to increase the session timeout under Global Configuration.

Import does NOT automatically set the Addressee or Greeting fields for imported contacts. If you are planning on generating mailing labels or using any of the built-in greeting features (Email Greeting, Postal Greeting) - you'll need to run the Update Greetings command line script after importing your contacts.

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