Unexpected EOF Encountered in BCP Data-File: How to Resolve Import/Export Errors

It looks like you have encountered “Unexpected EOF (End of File) encountered in BCP data-file” while working with SQL Server’s Bulk Copy Program (BCP), It typically indicates that BCP, a command-line tool used for importing and exporting bulk data, has come across an inconsistency in the data file that prevents it from reading or writing the file as expected.

BCP relies on the precise formatting of data files, which includes the correct specification of row and column terminators. If these specifications do not align with the actual contents of the file, BCP is unable to parse the data correctly, leading to this error

To resolve the “Unexpected EOF Encountered in BCP Data-File” error, examine the BCP command line settings to confirm they correspond with the format of the data file. This includes appropriately choosing the terminator(row and column) to match the data files’ structure (e.g., a comma for CSV files) or identifying if the data file is corrupted.

In this article, We go in-depth on why we are seeing this error and how to debug and resolve the error.

Understanding BCP and EOF

Before proceeding further, Let’s understand more about Bulk Copy Program (BCP) and unexpected End of File (EOF) errors.

Basics of Bulk Copy Program (BCP)

BCP is a command-line utility that facilitates the fast transfer of rows in and out of a database. It uses a data-file to import or export data, which is often in a delimited format.

  • Import: BCP takes data from a file and inserts it into the database.
  • Export: BCP extracts data from the database and places it in a file.

End of File (EOF) in Data Transfer

EOF signifies the conclusion of a data-file during transfer processes, acting as a marker to indicate that there is no more data to be read from the file. When it comes to BCP operations, an unexpected EOF implies that the reading process ended abruptly, likely due to issues related to the data format or file corruption.

An unexpected EOF generally denotes that:

  • The expected number of rows has not been transferred.
  • The integrity of the BCP operation is compromised, requiring user intervention.

Why we are seeing the error “Unexpected EOF Encountered in BCP Data-File”

When working with a Bulk Copy Program (BCP) to transfer data, encountering an ‘unexpected end-of-file (EOF)’ error can disrupt operations. Understanding the nature of this error is critical for swiftly pinpointing and rectifying the issue.

Common Causes of Unexpected EOF

There are several typical causes for an ‘unexpected EOF’ error in BCP. Firstly, the error may arise from incorrect file format specifications, where line endings or column delimiters within the data file do not match the expected format.

Issues can also occur from variances in text file encodings, such as UTF-8, UTF-16, or UTF-16 big-endian, which may not be compatible with the BCP utility requirements. Notably, errors can also be a result of conflicting Unix and Windows line endings, leading to premature EOF detection. It’s important to investigate each potential cause thoroughly to resolve the problem efficiently.

Simulate the ERROR

It would be very useful to understand the issue better If we can able to replicate the issue.

Assuming you have a SQL Server instance up and running

Create a Sample Table: Create a simple table in your SQL Server database to work with during this test.sql


Prepare a Data File with Missing Data or Incorrect Formatting:

1,Jonny dae
2,Judi Duo

Run the BCP Command to Import the Data:

bcp <database>.dbo.<tablename> in test_data.txt -c -T -S YourServer\InstanceName

If the data file is not correctly formatted, or if it doesn’t end as expected, BCP will attempt to import it will produce an “Unexpected EOF Encountered in BCP Data-File” error, indicating it reached the end of the file unexpectedly.

Resolving EOF Issues in BCP

Encountering an unexpected EOF (End of File) when using BCP for bulk insert operations can be a frustrating issue. This section provides targeted solutions to address EOF errors effectively.

Data File Troubleshooting

When BCP reports an unexpected EOF, it is indicative that the file being copied terminates unexpectedly. It is essential to inspect the data-file carefully for discrepancies. The presence of incorrect line endings due to the Unix vs Windows format is a common culprit. Also, the inclusion of column delimiters, such as commas, within the data itself may lead to EOF errors. To address such issues:

— Confirm that the line endings match the expected format (CRLF for Windows, LF for Unix).

For Windows (CRLF) it should be like below

Line 1\r\nLine 2\r\n Line 3\r\n

For Unix/Linux/MacOS (LF):

Line 1\n 

Line 2\n 

Line 3\n

— Ensure that your data does not contain the column delimiter (e.g., comma) unless it is enclosed in qualifier characters.

BCP Command Adjustments

Adjusting the BCP command may resolve EOF issues. A common problem lies in the command line arguments—particularly the ones specifying terminators. Using the incorrect -n or -N parameters can also cause an EOF response. A few adjustments include:

— Review and correct row and column terminators (-r and -t) based on the data structure


bcp <database>.dbo.<tablename> in data.csv -S ServerName -U YourUsername -P YourPassword -c -t, -r \n -F 2
  • -c indicates character data.
  • -t, sets the field terminator as a comma, suitable for CSV files.
  • -r \n sets the row terminator to a newline character, assuming the file uses LF for line endings.
  • -F 2 skips the first row (header).

— Test different encoding parameters, such as UTF-8 or UTF-16, to see if they align with the data file’s format.

Database and Table Verifications

Database schema or table structure mismatches can cause EOF errors during BCP operations. This typically involves a discrepancy between the data-file and the target table. To prevent EOF errors due to these inconsistencies, one should:

  • Verify that the target table’s schema (dbo or otherwise) matches the structure defined within the BCP command.
  • Check the target table to ensure name and data types conform to the data-file being inserted.


Encountering “Unexpected EOF Encountered in BCP Data-File” signals format discrepancies, crucial for data integrity during import/export. Resolving these errors involves ensuring file conformity to SQL Server expectations, highlighting the importance of meticulous data preparation, and understanding BCP’s nuanced requirements for seamless database interactions.

Happy Learning !!

Jerry Richard
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