CREATE OR ALTER statement in SQL Server

By:   |   Updated: 2017-01-23   |   Comments (7)   |   Related: More > TSQL


I am familiar with the T-SQL CREATE statement that is used to create different database objects and the ALTER statement that performs changes on existing database objects. I noticed that SQL Server there is a CREATE OR ALTER T-SQL statement. Can you explain what this does and how to use?


In SQL Server 2016 SP1, a new T-SQL statement, CREATE OR ALTER was introduced and works with SQL Server 2016 and later. This combines both the CREATE and ALTER statements functionality. The CREATE OR ALTER statement works with specific types of database objects such as stored procedures, functions, triggers and views.

With this new CREATE OR ALTER statement, you do not need to add extra code to your script to check if the object exists in the SYSOBJECTS system table and then drop and re-create. The CREATE OR ALTER statement will do that for you.

The CREATE OR ALTER statement acts like a normal CREATE statement by creating the database object if the database object does not exist and works like a normal ALTER statement if the database object already exists.

Assume we tried to create a stored procedure that already exists as follows.


CREATE PROC CreateOrAlterDemo 
   SELECT TOP 10 * FROM [dbo].[CountryInfoNew]

The SQL Server engine will prevent us from creating the stored procedure since there is a database object with that name already.

SQL error message

We can modify the code to use the CREATE OR ALTER statement instead of just the CREATE statement.  The query execution will succeed each time you run that query, as it will work as an ALTER statement if the object already exists.


   SELECT TOP 10 * FROM [dbo].[CountryInfoNew]

Note that this new T-SQL statement does not work for tables and indexes.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Ahmad Yaseen Ahmad Yaseen is a SQL Server DBA with a bachelorís degree in computer engineering as well as .NET development experience.

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Article Last Updated: 2017-01-23

Comments For This Article

Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 5:38:45 AM - Marcus Neilson Back To Top (88034)
interesting thing worth noting is that when i run "CREATE OR ALTER" on a stored proc I'm replicating, the proc alterations don't get picked up by replication. If you just use "ALTER" to update a stored proc then replication picks up the changes and distributes them.

Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 8:33:09 AM - Abdul Karim Siddiqui Back To Top (85252)

Hello Mr. Ahmad Yaseen,

This is a good feature introduced in this version, but I personally feel it will create a problem in such organization where freshers or juniors have permission to create objects. Earlier if one user creates a SP with the existing object name then system gives an error message and he can change the new object name, but now system will execute it everytime using this new "Create Or Alter" feature.

So, user should be very carefull while using this new feature.

Monday, September 25, 2017 - 10:04:38 AM - Ahmad Yaseen Back To Top (66591)

Unfortunatly not allowed for tables creation.


Best Regards, Ahmad


Monday, September 25, 2017 - 8:51:49 AM - Nikhil Kulshrestha Back To Top (66588)

 Can we use create or alter when I'm creating a table?


Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 2:48:21 AM - Ahmad Yaseen Back To Top (46538)

 Thank you Lanex for your input here. you are right, no access will be granted if the SP will be created at the first time. So it is better to add the access grant regardless.


Best Regards,



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 8:58:05 AM - Lanec Rose Back To Top (46523)

Does this feature handle granting of rights? If I create, I need to grant rights for a Proc. If I alter, the existing rights remain. Should I just add a grant regardless?


Monday, February 20, 2017 - 4:58:40 AM - shafiullah Back To Top (46512)

Thanks.. nice information and clear cut presentation. 


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