Format your contact import file

In this article, we will explain how to format your contact import file.

When you import contacts to Sendinblue, the data of your import file will be matched to contact attributes in your Sendinblue account. Certain types of contact attributes, like EMAIL and SMS, require a specific format to be imported correctly.

Before you start

  • At least the EMAIL (for email campaigns) or SMS (for SMS campaigns) attribute is required in your import file. Other attributes are optional, but may be necessary to personalize your emails or segment your contacts.
  • There are 4 default attributes in Sendinblue when you create an account: FIRSTNAME, LASTNAME, EMAIL and SMS. The FIRSTNAME and LASTNAME default attributes name may vary based on the account language you selected during your account creation.
  • Learn more about the different types of attributes in Attribute the different fields of your database.

File types

The following file types are compatible for importing your contacts to Sendinblue:

  • .CSV (Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc, Google Spreadsheets)
  • .XLSX (Microsoft Excel open format)
  • .TXT (Microsoft Notepad)

File structure

Column headers

Column headers are optional but make it easier for our system to match your data to the corresponding contact attributes. Each column in your file needs a unique name and you can arrange them in any order. To simplify the import, use your contact attribute names as the headers in your file. If you don't include column headers in your import file, you will need to manually match each column with a contact attribute.

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Delimiter

Each value in your import file must be separated by a semicolon ;, a comma , or a tab       . Not specifying a delimiter will result in an upload failure, as our system won't be able to recognize each value.

Email addresses

To import a contact email address, use the EMAIL default attribute as your column header. If a contact does not have an email address, we will create a fictitious email address during the import. This fictitious email address will not be usable but will be unique for each contact. It will follow the format SMSNumber@mailin-sms.com. If you later find out the email address of your contact, you can always replace the fictitious email address we created with the real one.

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SMS numbers

To import a contact SMS number, please use the SMS default attribute as your column header. Always include the + sign and the country code for each SMS number, and do not separate the digits in the SMS numbers by any special character.

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Text

Text type attributes are used to store a string of any alphanumeric characters, such as a word, a phrase, or a sentence. You can use a text type attribute to import additional data such as your contact's language preferences, favorite color, or company name. When used in an import file, Text type attributes have no limit of characters.

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Number

Number type attributes are used to store a string of numerals or numbers written in decimal. You can use a number attribute to import numbers or currency values to your contacts.

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Boolean

Boolean type attributes are used to store values which can only contain Yes or No as a value.
For example, if you have an opt-in value, you can create a Boolean type attribute named OPT_IN which can only contain empty, Yes, or No as values.
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Category

Category type attributes are used to store values which can contain only one value from a defined set of possible values.

For example, if you have a gender value, you can create a Category type attribute named GENDER and define possible values as “Female”, “Male” or “Unknown”. The attribute GENDER of each contact will then only contain one value among “Female”, “Male” or “Unknown”.

In your import file, only include the category option ID number. For example, you could have:

  • 1 if the GENDER attribute is “Female”
  • 2 if the GENDER attribute is “Male”
  • 3 is the GENDER attribute “Unknown"

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Date

Date type attributes are used to store a date value. Keep the format of the value under this attribute similar to the format selected under your account settings (DD-MM-YYYY or MM-DD-YYYY).
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Import file examples

.CSV example

  • Each contact must have their own row.
  • Each column must include a single piece of information.

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.TXT example

  • Each contact must have their own line.
  • Separate each value by a semicolon ;, a comma , or a tab       .

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Sample import file

To help you format your import file, we have created 3 sample import files that you can download:

After you update the sample file with your contacts information and save it, learn how to Import your contacts to Sendinblue.

File size

The largest file size that can be imported to your Sendinblue account is 250 MB. There is no limit on the number of contacts you can import at once.

File encoding

We only support two types of file encoding, UTF-8 and Windows-1252. These types of file encoding make it possible to read the content of your file when it contains special characters.

In case you encounter the following error "The imported files encoding is not supported. We mainly support UTF-8 as a file encoding format" due to an invalid file encoding, please follow the steps below to save your file as UTF-8.

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Encoding a file in UTF-8 with Microsoft Excel

  1. Open your file and go to File > Save As.
  2. In the menu, name your file and select CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited) (.csv) as file format.
  3. Click Save.

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Encoding a file in UTF-8 with Google Spreadsheet

To save the .CSV file as UTF-8 encoded, you can upload the file on Google Drive and easily store it as UTF-8. 

  1. Open your Google Drive account.
  2. Click the New button in the top left corner.
  3. Click File Upload.
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  4. Browse for the required .CSV file and select it.
  5. Open the uploaded file with Google Spreadsheet.
  6. Navigate to File > Download asand select the Comma-separated values (.csv, current sheet) option.
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Encoding a file in UTF-8 with Notepad

  1. Right-click the file that contains your contacts.
  2. Select Open with > Notepad.
  3. Click File and select Save as.  
  4. Add the .CSV extension to your file name.
  5. For Type, choose All files.
  6. For Encoding, choose UTF-8
  7. Click Save.
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Encoding a file in UTF-8 with Libre Office

  1. Open LibreOffice and go to Files.
  2. Click Open and select the file from your computer.
  3. Go to File > Save as.
  4. Type the name of the file in the dialog box.
  5. From the Save as type drop-down, select Text CSV (.csv).
  6. Check the Edit filter settings options.
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  7. Click Save.
  8. In the Export Text File dialog box, select the Unicode (UTF-8) option from the Character set drop-down.
  9. Set the field and text delimiter as you wish, or leave it as it is.
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  10. Click OK.

This will save the file as UTF-8 encoded in LibreOffice.

💡 Good to know
If your contact data contains a UTF-8 replacement character "�" , it will be skipped and the corresponding attribute value will not be stored in your contacts database. This character can be introduced in the export of some tools, it is used to replace an unknown, unrecognized or unrepresentable character.

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