Why Is the Import Not Working?


This article explains various error messages that may be displayed in Personio when a data import could not be completed successfully. We will present you with the possible causes of the errors as well as the corresponding correction suggestions.

The following import types will be addressed: Employee upload, Salary upload and Absence periods upload.


1. Upload of Employee Data

Errors when attributes and columns are assigned

  • Error: During the upload, an attribute/column title that has been newly created in Excel, e.g. Address information, cannot be selected in Personio.


Cause: The selected Excel list contains attributes/column titles that have not yet been created in Personio.

Fix: First go to Settings > Employee information and create all sections and their corresponding attributes as per the data in the Excel table. See this article for more information on how to create sections and attributes.

Once this has been done, you will be able to assign all attributes to the predefined columns without any issues.



  • Error message: "Each attribute can only be mapped to one column of your uploaded file. You have assigned the attribute first_name more than once. Please correct the problem and try again."

Cause: During step 2 of the import process (Configure columns), certain attributes have been assigned multiple times.



Fix: When assigning attributes, take care that each attribute is only allocated once. The attributes of the Excel list (on the left) have to be assigned to the correct attributes in Personio (on the right).



Errors in the imported file

  • Error message: "Please note that the following employees could not be imported successfully due to incorrectly formatted attribute values: john@doe.com, 13.03.1980 (Row#2): The attribute Emergency contact details must be defined as ("Entered," "Not entered," "To be supplied"). sally@doe.com, 01.11.2015 (Row#3): The attribute Emergency contact details must be defined as ("Entered," "Not entered," "To be supplied")."

Cause: In Personio, the attribute "Emergency contact details" was created as a List of options or a Tags type attribute – in the above example with the restrictions/selection options "Entered," "Not entered" and "To be supplied." In the import file, however, the column "Emergency contact details" contains values that differ from these restrictions. Consequently, the data cannot be imported, and the upload is aborted:


Fix: Make sure that the data in your Excel list matches the restrictions in Personio. Only if that is the case can the data import be completed:


The values prescribed in the Excel list must also be used for some system attributes that have been predefined in Personio as a list of options. One example is the system attribute Status.


  • Error message: "Employee hierarchy loop detected for employee John Doe and supervisor John Doe. Please resolve the loop and try assigning the supervisor again."

Cause: An employee is recorded in the Excel list as being their own supervisor.


Fix: Ensure that in column "Supervisor", the employee has not entered their own email address. If an employee has no supervisor, e.g. the CEO, just leave the respective field blank.



2. Salary Data Import

Inconsistencies between Personio and the import file

  • Error message: "Employees could not be found."

Cause: With imports, the email address usually serves as the unique ID that is needed to identify the employee profiles and to assign the data correctly. If the above message appears, then your Excel file contains email addresses that cannot be found in Personio. This can be due to a typing or spelling error, or indeed because the employee profile does not exist.


Fix: Verify that the email addresses in both Personio and in the Excel list are correct and that all employees you want to import salaries for are in the system.



  • Error: During column assignment, additional compensation is not found.


Cause: The salary list Upload of additional compensation is imported, but not all additional compensation types that are required have been created in Personio prior to the import.

Fix: Before doing the import, go to Settings > Salary & Payroll > Additional compensation types and set up all additional compensation types that are paid to your employees at regular intervals. See this article to learn how to add additional compensation types in Personio.


  • Error message: "Rows with no salary/bonus entered."


Cause: The salary list Flexible Bonus Upload is imported, but the flexible bonus has not been activated in the employee profile prior to the import.

Fix: Before importing the Flexible Bonus Upload Excel list, the flexible bonus must be activated in the employee profile. Click here to learn exactly how to do this.


Errors in the weekly hours entry

  • Error: The weekly hours that are stored in Personio are automatically overwritten with the number of weekly hours in the full-time work schedule.

Cause: While setting up a new employee, you also entered their weekly working hours (weekly hours) in the employee profile. In a second step, you imported the Salary History Upload Excel list, but left its Weekly hours column blank. Watch out! That is exactly the mistake.


Excel list:


Due to the weekly hours missing in the Excel list, Personio automatically overwrites the weekly hours of all employees affected by the import with the full-time weekly hours that have been stored under Settings > Departments:


If you then manually correct the weekly hours in the employee profile, the employee's salary will automatically be reduced pro rata as well!

Fix: Enter the employees' weekly hours in the Excel table for the salary import. The hours must match those stored in the employee profile in Personio. If they do, both the weekly hours and the fixed salaries will be correctly reflected in Personio.


3. Import of Absences

Errors in the imported file

  • Error: Not all absences that are contained in the Excel list are imported.

Cause: Some absence periods in the Excel list are missing the email address that is needed to allocate the data to the desired employee's profile. Personio only imports those absences for which an email address has been assigned:


Fix: Add the missing email address for the employee to the absence in your Excel list. All absence types and periods will then be displayed:



Inconsistency between Personio and the import file

  • Error message: "Absence types not found."


Cause: This error message can have two possible causes.

  1. The first cause could be that the name of the absence type in the Excel list (e.g. special leave) is not identical with the name of the absence type in Personio.
  2. The second possible cause is that the required absence types were not created in Personio before the import was attempted.


  1. Give the absence types in Excel and those in Personio identical names. Make sure that the spacing is correct, too, as missing or double spaces can also result in errors.
  2. Ensure that all absence types that exist in your company have been set up in Personio before you import the Excel list. Click here to learn how to add absence types in Personio.


A substitute is required for the absence

  • Error message: "Substitute not supported."

Cause: Absence periods are imported for an absence type that requires a substitute.


Fix: Note that absences cannot be imported if, under Settings > Absences > Absence type (e.g. Paid vacation), the option Enable substitute request has been set to Required. If this is the case, Personio will assume that every absence entry needs to have a substitute entry. To work around this error and import the data successfully, first change the status in the settings from Requried to Optional or None. After the import, you can change it back to being required.


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