Which Data Type Is Used for Phone Number in SQL?


Angela Bailey

Which Data Type Is Used for Phone Number in SQL?

When working with databases, it is important to choose the correct data type for each field to ensure data integrity and optimize storage and querying. When it comes to storing phone numbers in a SQL database, the appropriate data type to use depends on the specific requirements of your application.

Choosing the Right Data Type

SQL provides several data types that can be used to store phone numbers:

  • CHAR: This fixed-length character data type is often used for storing phone numbers. However, it’s important to note that if you choose this data type, you must specify a maximum length that accommodates the longest possible phone number, including any country codes or extensions.
  • VARCHAR: Unlike CHAR, this variable-length character data type allows you to store phone numbers of different lengths without wasting storage space.

    It is a better choice if your application requires flexibility in phone number length.

  • NUMERIC: If you need to perform mathematical operations on phone numbers, such as calculations or comparisons, using NUMERIC or DECIMAL data types is recommended. These data types are suitable for storing numbers with fixed or floating decimal points.

Data Validation and Formatting

Regardless of the chosen data type, it is essential to validate and format phone numbers before storing them in a SQL database. This helps maintain consistency and ensures that only valid phone numbers are stored.

You can use regular expressions or custom validation logic to ensure that the entered phone number meets certain criteria, such as a specific format or length. Additionally, consider removing any non-numeric characters (such as spaces, dashes, or parentheses) from the input before storing it.

Considerations for International Phone Numbers

If your application needs to handle international phone numbers, additional considerations come into play. In such cases, it is important to account for country codes and any regional variations in phone number formats. Storing the entire phone number, including the country code, in a VARCHAR field is typically the best approach.


Choosing the right data type for phone numbers in SQL depends on your specific application requirements. While CHAR and VARCHAR are commonly used for storing phone numbers, NUMERIC or DECIMAL may be more suitable if you need to perform mathematical operations on them. Remember to validate and format phone numbers before storing them, and consider internationalization factors if dealing with international phone numbers.

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