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 the Excel file, e.g. Address details, cannot be selected in Personio.


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

Solution: First go to Settings > Employee information and make sure to create all sections and their corresponding attributes as per the data in the Excel table. See this article for more information on how to manage the different 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 in your uploaded file. You 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.

Solution: When assigning attributes, make sure that each attribute is only allocated once. The attributes from the Excel file (on the left) have to be matching the correct attributes in Personio (on the right).


Errors in the imported file

If an import file has errors, the import is aborted and a revision file offered for download.


In the revision file, errors are identified in red, including details on the value that is expected by Personio. This will always be displayed in the language version that you are using. 


Since the revision file has exactly the same structure as the original import file, you can fix the errors directly in the revision file and then re-import it. 

To do this, start from the beginning and select the revision file for your import. 


Example 1: Attribute type List of options or Tags

Cause: In Personio, the attribute "Emergency contact" was created in the example above as a List of options attribute type, with the following restrictions/selection options: "Available," "Not available" and "Hand in Later."

In the import file, however, the column "Emergency contact" contains values that differ from these restrictions. Consequently, the data cannot be imported.

Make sure that the data in your Excel file matches the options in Personio. Only then can the data import be completed.


Please note: Even for certain system attributes, which are predefined in Personio as a selection list, you must specify the value in the Excel template. One example is the system attribute Status. An overview of the possible options for these attributes is available under the Downloads section of the employee data import templates.


Example 2: Hierarchy loop

Cause: In the Excel file, an employee is recorded as being their own supervisor, or two employees are recorded as each other's supervisors.

Solution: Ensure that in the column "Supervisor," no employee has their own email address entered, or that no two employees have each other as being their supervisors. If an employee has no supervisor, e.g. the CEO, just leave the respective field blank.



Incorrect format for the attribute name in your file

Error: Personio doesn't recognize the attribute from your Excel file during the import (see 20-year anniversary).


Cause: The attribute name in your file is not in "Default" format.

Solution: Set the format of the attribute name in your Excel file to "Default." Personio will then automatically recognize the attribute.


Deactivation of administrators

Error: The last active administrator has not been updated.


Cause: In the import file, the status of the last administrator is set to Inactive.

Solution: Make sure that there is always an active administrator stored in the account. Download the revision file, correct the error and repeat the import.


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 message above appears, your Excel file contains email addresses that cannot be found in Personio. This can be due to typing or spelling errors, or because the employee profile does not exist.

Solution: Verify that the email addresses in both Personio and in the Excel file are correct, and that all employees whose salaries you want to import 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 recurring compensation types that are required have been created in Personio prior to the import.

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


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


Cause: The salary list Custom Bonuses Upload is imported, but the custom bonus has not been activated in the employee profile prior to the import.

Solution: Before importing the Custom Bonuses Upload template, the custom bonus must be activated in the employee profile. Click here to learn 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.

Originally stored weekly hours:


Imported Excel file:


Details in the employee profile after the import:


Cause: When you set 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 what is wrong here.

Due to the weekly hours missing from the Excel file, 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 & Teams > Departments:

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

Solution: Enter the employees' weekly hours in the Excel file that you use 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 of the absences that are contained in the Excel file are imported.

Imported Excel file:


Preview Import:


Cause: Some absence periods in the Excel file 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.

Solution: Add the missing email address for the employee matching the absence in your Excel file. All absence types and periods will then be displayed as such:


Import Preview:


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 file (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 file. 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.

Solution: Please note that absences cannot be imported if, under Settings > Absences > Absence type (e.g. Paid vacation), the option Substitute required? has been set to Yes. 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 Yes to Optional or No. After the import, you can change it back to being required.




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