Inserting Records with Identity Fields and Retrieving IDs for Future Use

Inserting Records with Identity Fields and Retrieving IDs for Future Use


With SQL databases, a frequent task is to insert a record into a table that includes an Identity Field. Following this insertion, retrieving this newly generated ID for subsequent operations becomes necessary.

Identity Field Importance

Firstly, this process is important in scenarios where maintaining a track of records and establishing links between them is required. For instance, in user management systems, it’s crucial to keep track of each user’s unique ID after their information is entered into the database. This ID then serves as a key reference for all future interactions and transactions related to that user.

The ability to insert a record into a table with an auto-incrementing primary key and then immediately retrieve this new ID is a fundamental aspect of database management. This process not only ensures the integrity and linkage of records in various applications like user management, order processing, and inventory management but also lays the groundwork for efficient and error-free data handling.

Understanding Identity Fields

An Identity Field in a database is a uniquely designed type of field, which serves a vital role. Specifically, it automatically generates a unique key for each new record added to the database.

This automated generation is particularly useful as it streamlines the process of creating distinct identifiers for each entry.

This uniqueness is fundamental for the efficient organization and retrieval of data, making the Identity Field an indispensable component in database management and design.

Inserting a Record with an Identity Field

Inserting a record into a table with an Identity Field is easy. Here’s a basic SQL example:

INSERT INTO Users (Name, Email) VALUES ('John Doe', '');

In this example, assuming Users table has an Identity Field (let’s say UserID), the database will automatically assign a unique UserID when this record is added.

Retrieving the Generated Identity Field ID

After insertion, retrieving the newly generated ID is a critical step. Different SQL databases offer different methods for this:

SQL Server

In SQL Server, you can use SCOPE_IDENTITY() function to retrieve the last identity value inserted into an identity column in the same scope.

DECLARE @NewUserID int; 
INSERT INTO Users (Name, Email) VALUES ('Jane Doe', ''); 

You can find the official documentation here: –


In MySQL, you can use the LAST_INSERT_ID() function.

INSERT INTO Users (Name, Email) VALUES ('Alex Smith', ''); 


In PostgreSQL, you can use the RETURNING clause.

INSERT INTO Users (Name, Email) VALUES ('Emma Johnson', '') RETURNING UserID;

Best Practices

  1. Transaction Management: Ensure the insertion and retrieval of the ID are part of the same transaction to avoid issues with concurrent insertions.
  2. Error Handling: Implement robust error handling to manage insertion failures.
  3. Security Considerations: Be cautious of SQL injection vulnerabilities; always use parameterized queries.


Inserting records into a table with an Identity Field and retrieving the new ID is a common yet vital operation in database management. Each SQL database system has its methods and nuances, but understanding and implementing this functionality correctly ensures data integrity and smooth operation of database-driven applications.

By mastering these techniques, developers can ensure efficient and secure data handling, which is fundamental in building robust and reliable software solutions.

I have numerous SQL Server blog posts available, including: –

SQL Joins, What are SQL fat pipes?, Moving SQL Server Log Files to a New Location


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.