Python unique constraint failed

One of SQLite essential features is the ability to enforce data integrity through various constraints, including the unique constraint. When you encounter a SQLite unique constraint failed error, it usually means that you’ve violated a unique constraint in your database, causing SQLite to reject the operation.

Here’s a more in-depth explanation of the SQLite unique constraint failed error:

Unique Constraint

In SQLite, you can define a unique constraint on one or more columns of a table. A unique constraint ensures that the values in the specified column(s) must be unique across all rows in the table. It prevents duplicate entries, ensuring data consistency and integrity.

Error Message

When you perform an SQL operation (such as an INSERT or UPDATE) that attempts to violate the unique constraint, SQLite will raise an error with the message “unique constraint failed.” This error message is a clear indication that the operation would result in a duplicate entry, which SQLite is not allowed to accept.

Common Causes

Several situations can trigger the SQLite unique constraint failed error:

Attempting to insert a row with a value in a unique-constrained column that already exists in the table.
Updating a row with a value that would make the column non-unique.
Defining a new unique constraint that conflicts with existing data in the table.

Handling the Error

To handle this error, you can take several approaches:

Ensure Data Integrity: Review the data you are trying to insert and make sure it adheres to the unique constraint. You may need to validate user input or check if the data already exists in the table before attempting to insert it.

Use INSERT OR REPLACE: If you want to update an existing record with new data or insert it if it doesn’t exist, you can use the INSERT or REPLACE statement. This statement will update the existing record or insert a new one if the unique constraint is violated.

Handle the Error Gracefully: Implement error handling mechanisms in your code to catch the “SQLite unique constraint failed” error and provide appropriate feedback to the user or take corrective actions.


Here’s an example of how to handle the SQLite unique constraint failed error using Python’s sqlite3 library:

import sqlite3

    connection = sqlite3.connect('my_database.db')
    cursor = connection.cursor()

    # Attempt to insert a duplicate value, triggering the error
    cursor.execute("INSERT INTO my_table (unique_column) VALUES ('duplicate_value')")

except sqlite3.IntegrityError as e:
    print(f"SQLite unique constraint failed: {e}")
    connection.rollback()  # Roll back the transaction to avoid data corruption


In this example, we attempt to insert a value into a column with a unique constraint. If a duplicate value is encountered, it will raise a sqlite3.IntegrityError, and we catch it to handle the error gracefully.

Handling the SQLite unique constraint failed error is essential for maintaining data integrity in your SQLite databases. By understanding the causes and using appropriate error-handling mechanisms, you can ensure your database operations run smoothly while preventing duplicate data.