Delete a constraint on a table / field combination without knowing the name of the constraint

Delete a constraint on a table / field combination without knowing the name of the constraint


In database management, especially when dealing with SQL Server, modifying or removing default constraints is a common task. This blog post will delve into a specific SQL script designed to drop a default constraint from a table column. This operation is crucial when you need to change the default value of a column or remove the default setting entirely.

Understanding Constraints

Before diving into the script, let’s briefly touch upon what a default constraint is. In SQL Server, a default constraint is used to set a default value for a column. This means that the default value is automatically assigned if no value is specified for this column when a new row is inserted.

However, you need to change or remove this default value in some scenarios. This is where our script comes into play.

The SQL Script Explained

Here’s the script we’re discussing:

DECLARE @ConstraintName nvarchar(200)
AND PARENT_COLUMN_ID = (SELECT column_id FROM sys.columns
                        WHERE NAME = N'__ColumnName__'
                        AND object_id = OBJECT_ID(N'__TableName__'))
IF @ConstraintName IS NOT NULL
EXEC('ALTER TABLE __TableName__ DROP CONSTRAINT ' + @ConstraintName)

Breaking It Down

  1. Declare a Variable: The script starts by declaring a variable @ConstraintName of type nvarchar(200). This variable will hold the name of the default constraint that we want to drop.
  2. Find the Constraint Name: The next part of the script is a SELECT statement that sets the @ConstraintName variable. It searches in SYS.DEFAULT_CONSTRAINTS for a constraint that belongs to the specified table (__TableName__) and column (__ColumnName__).
  3. Conditional Execution: The IF statement checks if the @ConstraintName is not null, which means a constraint has been found.
  4. Dropping the Constraint: Finally, if a constraint is found, it is dropped using the ALTER TABLE statement concatenated with the @ConstraintName.


To use this script, you need to replace __TableName__ and __ColumnName__ with your actual table name and column name.

Practical Applications

This script is particularly useful in scenarios like:

  • Schema Updates: When evolving your database schema, you may need to change the default values of columns.
  • Data Migration: During data migration projects, removing default constraints can be necessary to maintain data integrity.


This script is a handy tool for any database administrator or developer working with SQL Server. It showcases the power and flexibility of SQL in managing database objects and ensuring that your database schema aligns with your application requirements.

Remember to test your scripts in a development environment before executing them in production to avoid unintended consequences.


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.