How Do I Resolve ORA-00904: Invalid Identifier Error?

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The ORA-00904 error

The ORA-00904 error is a common issue encountered by Oracle database users. This error signifies that an SQL statement includes an invalid column name or an identifier that is not recognized by the Oracle database. Resolving this error involves checking the SQL query for any incorrect, misspelled, or non-existent column or table names. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to diagnose and resolve the ORA-00904 error, ensuring that your database operations run smoothly.

Understanding the ORA-00904 Error

What Causes ORA-00904?

The ORA-00904 error can occur due to several reasons, including:

  • Typographical Errors: Misspelling a column name or table name in your SQL query.
  • Case Sensitivity Issues: Oracle identifiers are case-sensitive if quoted. An unquoted identifier is automatically treated as uppercase.
  • Invalid or Obsolete Identifiers: Using a column name or alias that does not exist in the table being queried or is no longer available.
  • Incorrect SQL Syntax: Misplacing clauses or using reserved words as identifiers without proper quotes.

Error Message Format

The error message typically appears as follows:


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ORA-00904: “XXXX”: invalid identifier

Here, XXXX represents the name of the invalid identifier causing the error.

Diagnostic Steps

Step 1: Check for Typographical Errors

Review your SQL query carefully. Compare the identifiers used in your query with the actual column names and aliases defined in your tables and subqueries. This is the most common cause and often the easiest to fix.

Step 2: Verify Case Sensitivity

Ensure that the case of the identifiers in your query matches the case used when the table or column was created. If the identifier was created using double quotes and mixed cases, you must use double quotes and the exact same case in your query.

Step 3: Validate the Schema Context

Check if the identifier is available in the schema under which you are running the query. Sometimes, the desired column or table might exist in a different schema.

Step 4: Inspect SQL Syntax

Make sure that your SQL syntax is correct and that you are not using Oracle-reserved words as identifiers unless they are quoted.

Solutions to Resolve ORA-00904

Solution 1: Correct Misspellings

If the diagnostic steps reveal any misspellings, correct them. Ensure every identifier in your SQL statement is spelled correctly and matches its corresponding entity in the database.

Solution 2: Address Case Sensitivity

If case sensitivity is the issue, modify your SQL query to use the correct case. For example, if a column was created as “EmployeeName”, your SQL query should select “EmployeeName” not EMPLOYEENAME or employeename.

Solution 3: Use Fully Qualified Names

If the error is due to schema discrepancies, use fully qualified names (include the schema name along with the table name: SCHEMA_NAME.TABLE_NAME) in your SQL query to specify exactly where the database should look for the identifiers.

Solution 4: Update SQL Syntax

Review and revise the SQL query to ensure proper syntax and the correct use of reserved words. If necessary, replace or quote any Oracle reserved words used as identifiers.

Best Practices to Avoid ORA-00904

  • Always double-check column and table names when writing SQL queries.
  • Use consistent naming conventions that avoid the use of reserved words and special characters in identifiers.
  • Develop the habit of using the SQL development environment’s autocomplete feature, which can help in correctly specifying database objects.
  • Regularly review and update documentation on database schemas to reflect any changes in the database structure.


Resolving the ORA-00904 error typically involves scrutiny of your SQL query for any inaccuracies in the identifiers used. By following the diagnostic steps and solutions provided, you can identify and fix issues related to invalid identifiers and ensure that your SQL queries are error-free. Remember, attention to detail is key in preventing and resolving these types of database errors.

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