Import A CSV file in People

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When you import a CSV file of profile information, you can match your column headers to the fields in Planning Center, preview the data before it's imported, and even undo an import if you made a mistake.

Check out the video or follow the steps below to see how it's done.


Only people information can be imported into Planning Center. If you want other data to exist in your Planning Center database, you can use the following options:

Check the CSV File

If your information was stored in another place, export it as a CSV file. CSV files can be opened in any spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, Numbers, or Google Sheets.

Many systems generate CSV files with some unnecessary data in them, so make sure everything looks okay before starting your import.

Always keep the First Name and Last Name columns as well as the column names in order to match them when you import. If you have many people with the same first and last name, use the Middle Name and Suffix as well.

sample CSV file

If you do not want to import data into a particular field, exclude that column from the CSV. Leaving it blank, adding dashes, or typing N/A in that field will replace the existing data in People with whatever is in that column.

For more information about the fields in your file, expand one of the sections.

Default Fields

These default fields already exist in People, so rename the fields in your CSV file to match the ones listed below.

Anything you put in a field will be imported; in addition, if you leave the field blank, any information previously in the field will be overwritten with a blank unless noted below.

Additional importing information:

  • Delete any fully blank columns or rows.
  • Delete any columns you don't want to import.
  • If you're picky about how phone numbers and addresses are formatted, fix them before you import into Planning Center. There's no auto-formatting, and it's easier to update the spreadsheet.
  • Custom Fields
    • If you have fields in your file that aren't listed here, create them as custom fields before importing your file.
    • If you are importing into a custom field with multiple checkboxes, the responses need to be separated by a |.
    • Set the column to be the name of the field, not the tab name.
    • If you have a custom field with the same name as a default field, rename it. Otherwise, the importer will import the information into the default field.
  • Notes cannot be imported into People Profile Notes.
Name Fields

The Importer will match profiles based on name fields (first, middle, last, suffix) unless you're using a Remote ID.

Default Fields Accepted Answers
First Name

Any Text
Last Name
Given Name
Middle Name
Name Prefix
Must match prefix names exactly
Name Suffix Must match suffix names exactly
Household ID names, numbers (up to 9 digits), or a combination of both
Household Primary Contact TRUE
only include next to Primary Contact; do not include False next to those who aren't
Household ID

In order to create households, you need to create a Household ID for each person. Add the same exact characters to the Household ID column for each member of the household. As long as that ID matches for each member of the family, and the whole family is in the same import, they will be linked together in a household.

During the preview stage of the import, you will be able to see created and updated households. Click on the changes that will be made to see the household name, primary contact, and members of the household.

The Household ID is not saved to the profile; it only exists in the current import, so keep your family members together in the same CSV file. If you want to save it to reference it later, create a Custom Field.

If you're using numbers for the Household ID, you can only use up to 9 digits.

Contact Info

If importing an address, you must include all the fields. If a field is left blank in the CSV file, it will overwrite the current address, leaving it blank.

Default Fields Accepted Answers
Home Email

Any Text
multiples can be separated by a semicolon (;)
Work Email
Other Email
Home Phone Number

any length, with or without dashes
multiples can be separated by a semicolon (;)
Work Phone Number
Mobile Phone Number
Pager Phone Number
Fax Phone Number
Skype Phone Number
Other Phone Number
Home Address Street Line 1 Any Text
Home Address Street Line 2 Any Text
Home Address City Any Text
Home Address State abbreviation or full name
Home Address Zip Code Any Text
Work Address Street Line 1 Any Text
Work Address Street Line 2 Any Text
Work Address City Any Text
Work Address State abbreviation or full name
Work Address Zip Code Any Text
Other Address Street Line 1 Any Text
Other Address Street Line 2 Any Text
Other Address City Any Text
Other Address State abbreviation or full name
Other Address Zip Code Any Text
Background Checks

If you import partial background check data, you'll get a new background check with that partial data.  Background checks must be manually deleted.

Default Fields Accepted Answers
Background Check Cleared Y/N
not case-sensitive
Background Check Date Completed any combination of:
follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting
must have Background Check Status entered
Background Check Expires On any combination of:
follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting
Background Check Note Any Text

Barcodes must be manually deleted; they cannot be overwritten by an import. If you import a barcode, it will just be added to the profile.

Default Fields Accepted Answers
Birthdate any combination of:
follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting
If the person doesn’t have a birth year, use 1885; this shows no age in People.
Anniversary any combination of:
follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting
must have Marital Status as Married or Widowed
Medical Notes
Any Text
Grade -1 to 12 (where -1 is Pre-K, 0 is Kindergarten)
1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
not case-sensitive
School Type Elementary, Middle School, High School, College, Other
School Name Must match school names exactly
Gender M/F
not case-sensitive
Child Y/N
not case-sensitive
Any Text
Campus Must match campus names exactly
Status Active/Inactive
Inactive Reason Moved, New Church, Deceased, Divorced, or custom
is case-sensitive
Marital Status Single, Married, Widowed, or custom
is case-sensitive
Must match membership names exactly
Remote ID

If we find an existing profile with a matching first name, middle name, last name, and suffix, the Importer will update that profile instead of creating a new one.

If you have similar names in your file, we recommend you use a Remote ID field. The Importer will check for matching Remote IDs when deciding to match an existing person or create a new profile.

The Remote ID column in your CSV file must be named remote_id, and the contents of that column must be positive whole numbers.

You can add a Remote ID to an existing profile if the name fields and email match exactly.

Upload the File

A Manager or Administrator can upload the CSV file by clicking the gear icon on the People tab, and then by clicking CSV Import/Export.

On the next screen, select Start Import, and then choose your file to upload.

Match Fields

If you didn't use the Default Fields, you can still match the columns in your CSV file to fields in People. This helps the Importer put information in the correct place.

  1. Compare the Planning Center Field column with the CSV Column Names to make sure they match with what you want to be imported into those fields.
  2. If you do not want to import a particular column, select Not Used.
  3. If you accidentally uploaded the wrong file or noticed from the examples that you missed some information, replace the CSV with the correct file.

Once you've verified each field, click Preview Import at the bottom of the page.

Information about an Organization Administrator cannot be updated by a CSV import.

Preview Data

You can see new or updated profiles and households, any errors the importer found, and all records that are identical. If you do not want to update or create a particular record, uncheck the box next to their name.

If you have any errors in your file, go to the Errors tab, and then click Download CSV at the bottom of the page to make adjustments to those profiles. Uncheck the errored profiles and finish this import, and then fix the errors and re-import that file.

Click Finish Import to process your import and either update or create all profiles that were selected.

Formatting Error

If you receive an Oops! message, you probably have a blank column header in your CSV file. Enter a column header or delete the column completely.

CSV file with empty column

Undo the Import

If you have a panic moment and think the CSV file isn't correct, or some of the information from the tabs isn't what you expected, you can undo the import up to 48 hours after you imported it.

Scroll to the bottom of the Data Import & Exports page, and then click View Results on the import you want to undo.

Click Undo to remove anything created or updated by the information in the import.

import complete

You can continue updating the people you've added by importing other CSV files with information.

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