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TiDB Lightning CSV Support

TiDB Lightning supports reading CSV (comma-separated values) data source, as well as other delimited format such as TSV (tab-separated values).

File name

A CSV file representing a whole table must be named as db_name.table_name.csv. This will be restored as a table table_name inside the database db_name.

If a table spans multiple CSV files, they should be named like db_name.table_name.003.csv.

The file extension must be *.csv, even if the content is not separated by commas.


CSV files are schema-less. To import them into TiDB, a table schema must be provided. This could be done either by:

  • Providing a file named db_name.table_name-schema.sql containing the CREATE TABLE DDL statement
  • Creating the empty tables directly in TiDB in the first place, and then setting [mydumper] no-schema = true in tidb-lightning.toml.


The CSV format can be configured in tidb-lightning.toml under the [mydumper.csv] section. Most settings have a corresponding option in the MySQL LOAD DATA statement.

# Separator between fields, should be an ASCII character.
separator = ','
# Quoting delimiter, can either be an ASCII character or empty string.
delimiter = '"'
# Whether the CSV files contain a header.
# If `header` is true, the first line will be skipped.
header = true
# Whether the CSV contains any NULL value.
# If `not-null` is true, all columns from CSV cannot be NULL.
not-null = false
# When `not-null` is false (i.e. CSV can contain NULL),
# fields equal to this value will be treated as NULL.
null = '\N'
# Whether to interpret backslash escapes inside fields.
backslash-escape = true
# If a line ends with a separator, remove it.
trim-last-separator = false


  • Defines the field separator.

  • Must be a single ASCII character.

  • Common values:

    • ',' for CSV
    • "\t" for TSV
  • Corresponds to the FIELDS TERMINATED BY option in the LOAD DATA statement.


  • Defines the delimiter used for quoting.

  • If delimiter is empty, all fields are unquoted.

  • Common values:

    • '"' quote fields with double-quote, same as RFC 4180
    • '' disable quoting
  • Corresponds to the FIELDS ENCLOSED BY option in the LOAD DATA statement.

  • Whether all CSV files contain a header row.
  • If header is true, the first row will be used as the column names. If header is false, the first row is not special and treated as an ordinary data row.

not-null and null

  • The not-null setting controls whether all fields are non-nullable.

  • If not-null is false, the string specified by null will be transformed to the SQL NULL instead of a concrete value.

  • Quoting will not affect whether a field is null.

    For example, with the CSV file:
    In the default settings (`not-null = false; null = '\N'`), the columns `A` and `B` are both

    converted to NULL after importing to TiDB. The column C is simply the empty string '' but not NULL.


  • Whether to interpret backslash escapes inside fields.

  • If backslash-escape is true, the following sequences are recognized and transformed:

    | Sequence | Converted to             |
    | `\0`     | Null character (U+0000)  |
    | `\b`     | Backspace (U+0008)       |
    | `\n`     | Line feed (U+000A)       |
    | `\r`     | Carriage return (U+000D) |
    | `\t`     | Tab (U+0009)             |
    | `\Z`     | Windows EOF (U+001A)     |
    In all other cases (for example, `\"`) the backslash is simply stripped, leaving the next character (`"`) in the field. The character left has no special roles (for example, delimiters) and is just an ordinary character.
  • Quoting will not affect whether backslash escapes are interpreted.

  • Corresponds to the FIELDS ESCAPED BY '\' option in the LOAD DATA statement.


  • Treats the field separator as a terminator, and removes all trailing separators.

    For example, with the CSV file:

  • When trim-last-separator = false, this is interpreted as a row of 5 fields ('A', '', 'B', '', '').

  • When trim-last-separator = true, this is interpreted as a row of 3 fields ('A', '', 'B').

Non-configurable options

TiDB Lightning does not support every option supported by the LOAD DATA statement. Some examples:

  • The line terminator must only be CR (\r), LF (\n) or CRLF (\r\n), i.e. LINES TERMINATED BY is not customizable.
  • There cannot be line prefixes (LINES STARTING BY).
  • The header cannot be simply skipped (IGNORE n LINES), it must be valid column names if present.
  • Delimiters and separators can only be a single ASCII character.

Common configurations


The default setting is already tuned for CSV following RFC 4180.

separator = ','
delimiter = '"'
header = true
not-null = false
null = '\N'
backslash-escape = true
trim-last-separator = false

Example content:



separator = "\t"
delimiter = ''
header = true
not-null = false
null = 'NULL'
backslash-escape = false
trim-last-separator = false

Example content:

ID    Region    Count
1     East      32
2     South     NULL
3     West      10
4     North     39


separator = '|'
delimiter = ''
header = false
not-null = true
backslash-escape = false
trim-last-separator = true

Example content: