What Is the Data Type for Phone Number in SQL?


Angela Bailey

When working with databases, it’s important to determine the appropriate data types for each column. One common data type that often causes confusion is the phone number.

In SQL, there is no specific data type designed exclusively for phone numbers. However, there are several options for storing phone numbers effectively.

Option 1: VARCHAR

One commonly used data type for phone numbers in SQL is VARCHAR. The VARCHAR data type allows you to store alphanumeric characters of variable length. Since phone numbers can include not only digits but also special characters like parentheses, dashes, and spaces, VARCHAR provides flexibility in accommodating these variations.

For example, you can define a column as VARCHAR(20) to allow for a maximum of 20 characters in a phone number field. This would be sufficient to store most international phone numbers as well.

Option 2: CHAR

If you know that all the phone numbers in your database will have a fixed length, you can consider using the CHAR data type. Unlike VARCHAR, CHAR requires you to specify a fixed length for the column. This means that if your phone numbers are always 10 digits long (for example), you can define the column as CHAR(10).

The advantage of using CHAR is that it can optimize storage and retrieval performance since it eliminates the need for dynamic memory allocation. However, keep in mind that if you use CHAR and have varying lengths of phone numbers stored (e.g., some with dashes and some without), you will waste storage space.

Option 3: NUMERIC

In some cases, you might want to store only numeric values without any special characters or formatting. In such scenarios, using the NUMERIC data type can be appropriate. NUMERIC allows you to store numeric values with precision and scale.

For instance, if your application requires only US phone numbers without any formatting, you can define the column as NUMERIC(10). This means that the column will store only numeric values up to 10 digits in length.


While SQL does not have a specific data type for phone numbers, VARCHAR, CHAR, and NUMERIC are commonly used to store phone numbers effectively. The choice of data type depends on factors such as the variability of phone number formats and whether or not formatting needs to be preserved.

Remember to consider the specific requirements of your application when choosing a data type for storing phone numbers in SQL. By selecting an appropriate data type and properly structuring your database schema, you can ensure efficient storage and retrieval of phone number information.

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