Finding primary keys and missing primary keys in SQL Server

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One design aspect that all tables should have is a primary key.  The primary key is the main entry way into your dataset, so that when you access your data you are guaranteed to only affect one row of data.  Having primary keys are not only a good design feature, but they also play an important role in replication and data updates especially when there may be duplicate rows of data.  So how can you determine what tables have primary keys and what tables do not have primary keys?


As mentioned above, primary keys guarantee a unique row of data in your table.  Some of the design aspects of a primary key are as follows:

  • can be one or more columns
  • column values can not be null
  • the column or combination of columns must be unique
  • there can only be one primary key on a table

There have been other tips that focus on all indexes that exist in the database, but here we will take a different look at tables that have primary keys and tables that do not have primary keys.  For SQL 2005 and later this is pretty easy to do by using the sys.key_constraints catalog views, but with SQL 2000 it is a bit cryptic to get this information.

Find All SQL Server Tables in Database With a Primary Key

Here are scripts you can use to find all tables in a database that have a primary key.

SQL Server 2005 / 2008 / 2008 R2 / 2012 / 2014 / 2016 / 2017

SELECT as SchemaName, as TableName, as PKname
FROM sys.key_constraints a 
INNER JOIN sys.tables b ON a.parent_object_id = b.OBJECT_ID 
INNER JOIN sys.schemas c ON a.schema_id = c.schema_id 
WHERE a.type = 'PK'

SQL Server 2000

FROM sysobjects a
INNER JOIN sysindexes b ON =
INNER JOIN sysusers c ON a.uid = c.uid
WHERE (b.status & 2048)<>0

Find All SQL Server Tables in Database Without a Primary Key

Here are scripts you can use to find all tables in a database that do not have a primary key.

SQL Server 2005 / 2008 / 2008 R2 / 2012 / 2014 / 2016 / 2017

SELECT as SchemaName, as TableName
FROM sys.tables b 
INNER JOIN sys.schemas c ON b.schema_id = c.schema_id 
WHERE b.type = 'U' 
                FROM sys.key_constraints a 
                WHERE a.parent_object_id = b.OBJECT_ID 
                AND a.schema_id = c.schema_id 
                AND a.type = 'PK' )	

SQL Server 2000

FROM sysobjects a
INNER JOIN sysusers c ON a.uid = c.uid
WHERE xtype = 'U'
FROM sysindexes b
AND (b.status & 2048)<>0)
Next Steps
  • Now that you have these queries take the time to identify where primary keys may be missing
  • As a good design rule you should always create a primary key for all of your tables
  • If you don't have a good candidate for a primary key in your table then look at using an identity column just for this purpose

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Greg Robidoux Greg Robidoux is the President and founder of Edgewood Solutions, a technology services company delivering services and solutions for Microsoft SQL Server. He is also one of the co-founders of Greg has been working with SQL Server since 1999, has authored numerous database-related articles, and delivered several presentations related to SQL Server. Before SQL Server, he worked on many data platforms such as DB2, Oracle, Sybase, and Informix.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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Comments For This Article

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 4:03:10 AM - nickhac Back To Top (67141)

If you want to create Primary Keys on all tables in SQL Server that don't have PKs, this SQL will generate all the PK create code for all the tables

I use this on databases i inherit that are missing lots of keys...

Hope this is of use!




select * ,

'ALTER TABLE ' +  SchemaName + '.' + Tablename + ' ADD CONSTRAINT PK_'  + Tablename +  ' PRIMARY KEY  CLUSTERED (' +Table_Column_FirstWithIDInName + ')' ScriptToCreatePrimaryKey

from (

(SELECT top 1 Column_Name FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS  where table_name = and column_name like '%ID%' order by Ordinal_Position) Table_Column_FirstWithIDInName

WHERE OBJECTPROPERTY(object_id,'TableHasPrimaryKey')  = 0  AND type = 'U'
) TblsWithoutPK


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