How to import contacts into ActiveCampaign from a CSV file



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With ActiveCampaign, you can import contacts into your account from a CSV file using our import tool. The import tool allows you to map columns in your file with fields in your account, create new custom contact fields to map a column to, import contacts to a list(s)(Available on Marketing plans), apply a tag(s) to the contacts, import contacts as Active or Excluded, and choose to update existing contacts while you import. 

This article will show you how to import contacts from a CSV file.

Take note

  • The import tool only works with CSV files
    If your contacts are stored in a spreadsheet, make sure to save the spreadsheet as a CSV file before import. CSV files must also be formatted correctly. To learn more, visit "How to prepare your CSV file for importing contacts."
  • Each contact in your file must have an email address
    If multiple contacts share the same email address, we'll import the first instance in your file and skip the other contacts who share that same email address.
  • Contacts may be added to "Active" automations upon import
    Contacts will be added to automations set to "Active" if (1) the list you are adding them to is used in an automation trigger, (2) if you're tagging contacts during the import process and those tags are used in automation triggers, or (3) if you're importing values to a field and that field is used in an automation trigger. You can turn off 'Trigger Automations' in the Advanced Options of the Import Options section during the import below or you can learn how to prevent this manually.
  • It is not possible to assign an account owner during the contact import process
    If your CSV file contains an "Accounts" column, we'll assign all accounts in your file to the default account owner. To learn more, visit How to assign ownership of accounts.
  • It is not possible to create a list during the import process
    You must create a list before starting the import process if you choose to assign contacts to that list. Note that lists are only available on Marketing plans

Watch a video

Import contacts from a CSV file

  1. Click "Contacts" located on the left menu.
  2. Click the "Import" button.
  3. Click the "Import from File" button.
  4. A file browser will appear. Navigate to the file you wish to import and select it.
  5. Your file will process, and you will be redirected to the import screen. Map the columns in your file to fields in your account by clicking the dropdown for each field.
    • If you don't wish to import data from a column, select "Do Not Import this Field"
    • To create a new field directly from the import page, click "[Add New Field]" and follow the prompts
    • The “Field Values” column will show the first row of data from your CSV so you can confirm your mapping.
    • “This is a duplicate field” error will show if the same field is mapped twice. You can fix this by selecting different destinations for every mapped field.
  6. Select Lists Available on Marketing plans (Optional): Click each list you want to add contacts to. You can add contacts to multiple lists.
  7. Add Tags (Optional): Type the tags you wish to apply to all contacts once they're imported.
    • As a best practice, you may want to apply a tag that indicates the source of these contacts. That way, you can easily find this group if you need to make any bulk edits to them later.
  8. Import Options: Click the "Import Options" dropdown and choose one of the following. Note that the options available depend on whether or not you selected a list:
    • Import as Contact (appears if no list is selected)
      This option adds contacts to your account. 
    • Import as Excluded (appears if no list is selected)
      This option adds contacts to your Exclusion List upon import.
    • Import as Active Contact (appears if a list(s) is selected)
      This option adds contacts to your selected list(s).
    • Import as Unsubscribed Contact (appears if a list(s) is selected)
      This option adds contacts to your account. These contacts will have an "Unsubscribed" status for the selected list(s). 
    • Import as Excluded Email Address (appears if a list(s) is selected)
      This option adds contacts to the Exclusion List upon import.
  9. Optional: Click the “Update Existing Contacts” box. This will look for a matching email address in your account and add any additional contact data from your file into the contact record.
  10. Advanced Options (Optional): You can choose to leave these on their default settings or click the arrow next to Advanced Options to reveal additional settings:

    • Trigger Webhooks
      Turn off completely, no webhooks will trigger, or choose one of the following:
    • Trigger Automations
      Turn this completely on or off:
      • On - imported contacts will enter automations they can trigger, including but not limited to, Tag Added, Create/Update contact, and so on.
      • Off - the import will disregard any automations that could possibly trigger from this import and contacts will not be added to any automations.
    • Create field options when importing new custom field values
      Turn this completely on or off:
      • On - If a value is imported within a dropdown, list box, radio button, or checkbox custom field that does not match an existing field option, the import will create the option in that field. For example, you may have ‘Cat’ as a field option but it is spelled ‘Catt’ in the CSV. ‘Catt’ will be created as a new option.
      • Off - If the value imported does not match an existing field option exactly, the value will not be imported.
  11. Click the "Import Now" button once you're done configuring settings.

The length of time it takes to import contacts will depend on the size of the CSV file. 

When finished, you can view your import results

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