Import a CSV File in People

Created on:
Updated on:

If you want to transfer your church’s people information into Planning Center, you can upload it in bulk. Export your data as a Comma Separated Value (.csv or CSV) file from your existing database or your favorite spreadsheet program. CSV files can be opened and edited in any spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, Numbers, or Google Sheets.

Check out this clip from Planning Center University.


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

Formatting Your CSV File

You should have the option to export a CSV file from your current database. Many systems generate CSV files in different ways, so check out the following tips to make sure your data is ready to be loaded into Planning Center:

  • In the import process, match your CSV file's column headers to fields in Planning Center. Download the sample CSV file to see how to set up your CSV file.

  • If you’re new to Planning Center, learn about households and names to see how they're used throughout Planning Center products. This will help you decide how to best structure your CSV file to translate well into Planning Center's structure.

  • Delete any fully blank columns or rows.

  • Delete any columns you don't want to import.

  • If you have more than 100,000 individual cells in your import, break the data up into separate CSV files and import each one individually.

  • To import addresses in specific formats, change the format in the CSV columns before importing.

Check out the accepted default fields, along with the formatting requirements below!

Matching Existing Profiles

If you already have profiles in Planning Center, use Remote IDs to improve accuracy and decrease the chances of duplicate profiles.


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

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


If you're not using Remote IDs, always keep the main Name Fields (First, Middle, Last, and Suffix) and the column names to match them when you import. This ensures that your import updates the correct profiles.


Default Fields

These default fields already exist in People and cannot be renamed. Make sure the fields in your CSV file match the ones listed below.

Name Fields

The Importer will match profiles based on name fields (first, middle, last, suffix) unless you use 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


only include next to Primary Contact; do not include False next to those who aren't

Household ID

To create households, you need to create a Household ID for each person. Add the same characters to a Household ID column for each household member. As long as that ID matches each household member, and the whole household 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 household members.

The Household ID is not saved to the profile; it only exists in the current import, so keep your household members together in the same CSV file. If you want to save the Household ID number to reference it later, create a custom field with a different name and duplicate the Household ID column with that name.


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, you can choose for it to overwrite the current address with a blank or ignore the field entirely.

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 (formatted to your preference)

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





not case-sensitive

Background Check Date Completed

any combination of:



follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting

must have Background Check Cleared entered

Background Check Expires On

any combination of:



follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting

Background Check Note

Any Text


Default Fields

Accepted Answers


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.


any combination of:



follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting

must have Marital Status as Married or Widowed

Medical Notes

Any Text


-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




not case-sensitive






not case-sensitive


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.


Must match campus names exactly



Inactive Reason

Moved, New Church, Deceased, Divorced, or custom

is case-sensitive

Inactive Date

any combination of:



follow the formatting from your Accounts Localization Setting

Marital Status

Single, Married, Widowed, or custom

is case-sensitive


Must match Membership Type exactly

Don't See a Field You Need?

If you don't see a field above that matches some of the data you're trying to import, create them as custom fields before importing your file!

Here are some tips for importing into custom fields:

  • Give your custom field a unique name. If you re-use a default field name, the data will be imported into the default field.

  • If you import multiple items into a checkboxes field, separate the responses by a "|" character.

  • Set the column to be the name of the field, not the name of the tab.

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.


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

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 have columns in your CSV file that you don't want to import, select Not Used. Any field marked as such will not be imported.

  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.


Use the checkbox at the bottom of the field options to overwrite or ignore any blank fields.

empty fields.png

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

Preview Data

You can see new or updated profiles and households, errors the importer found, and all identical records. Review a few profiles to make sure the data is getting imported into the expected fields. If you do not want to update or create a particular person, 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 in the file you exported and re-import that file.

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

Import Errors

If you receive an error message at any part of the import process, it means you have formatted something incorrectly or excluded required information from your CSV file. Here are the errors you might get and the solutions to fix them.

Error Message



Oops! We were unable to process the CSV file you provided. Could not read CSV file. Attribs can't be blank.

This error usually means one of 3 things:

  1. There is a blank column header in your CSV file.

  2. There is a line break on a column header.

  3. The CSV file is delimited by a semicolon or other character rather than a comma.

  1. Enter a column header or delete the column completely.

  2. Column headers must be on only one line. Delete any extra rows that are part of the column header.

  3. Change the delimiter to a comma in your spreadsheet program's settings.

First and Last name fields must be selected.

You did not match any of your columns to the first name and last name fields during the matching phase of the import.

Restart the import, making sure you match the appropriate columns to the first name and last name fields.

No profiles matched this Remote ID and a new profile couldn't be created because a similar profile with a different Remote ID already exists.

A profile in your database has the exact same first name, middle name, last name, suffix, and email address as the row in your CSV file, but the Remote ID's do not match.

Make sure that person in your CSV file has the same remote ID as their existing profile.

Email address has invalid formatting.

The person's email address in your CSV file is formatted incorrectly.

Make sure the email address in your CSV file is formatted correctly.

For security, an Organization Administrator's profile can not be updated via CSV update.

Organization Administrators cannot be updated via imports.

Update that Organization Administrator's profile manually. The importer will skip over this profile.

Undo the Import

If there are any errors in the impor that you missed in the Preview step, you can undo the import up to 48 hours after you imported it.


If you have merged any profiles from the import, do not undo the import. Undoing the import can completely delete the merged person from your database, removing any scheduled positions, registered events, donations, etc.

Undoing an import will have the following side effects:

  • If a profile was created by the import, it will be deleted.

  • If a profile was created by the import and then chosen as the primary when merging with an existing profile, the profile will be deleted.

  • If two existing profiles were updated by the import, and then merged, any information imported for either profile from the merge will be reverted.

  • If the profiles created during the import were given admin permissions, anything assigned will be unassigned, such as groups, lists, workflows, teams, etc.

  • If a data field was untouched by the import, the data will remain untouched.

  • If the import changed a field, but you manually change the same field after the import, it will revert to what it was before.

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.


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

Was this article helpful?
10 out of 13 found this helpful