How to solve problems of importing to Google Contacts

Importing contacts into Google Contacts should be pretty straight forward. In theory, all you need do is import your .CSV file containing your contact list into Google Contacts.

However, sometimes the import fails and it’s hard to know why.

The issue is often that the .CSV you are uploading is formatted incorrectly and Google rejects the data in the file.

One way to solve the problems of importing files into Google Contacts is to make sure that you are using the correct CSV file format that Google Contacts will accept.

Getting access to this format is as easy as downloading a Google Contact “template” CSV file. Then all you need do is copy/paste your data into the correct columns and upload the updated CSV back into Google Contacts.

Follow these steps:

  1. Download a correctly formatted Google Contact CSV file. You can download one here or create your own (see bottom of this post).
  2. Copy / paste your Name and Email contact data into the correct columns (B, D and AC)
  3. Save the updates to the Google.csv file.
  4. Upload the Google.csv file to your Google Contacts (See Importing Google Contacts)

google csv


We have created a Google.CSV file for you or you can create your own like this:

export contact

Phil Hill - Founder & CEO

Phil is a successful serial internet entrepreneur with a passion to fix problems.

  • jbal

    What a hassle, you telling us that mailchimp, send grid and others can smartly import contats and gmail still cant?

  • FranE

    Thanks for this great explanation! Impossible to find the answer in any of Google’s support sites.

  • Bathinda Helper

    I’ve imported a CSV file into Google Contacts hundreds of times without problem. But today, no matter what I try, I’m not able to import any contact into Google contacts.

    Even I’ve tried exporting a few contacts from Google Contacts as a CSV file and then without even touching that file, I tried to reimport that file into (same or diff ) google account, but nothing comes. Sometimes an ‘Unknown error’ is reported, but most of the time, no error shows. Just nothing happens.

    Even I’ve tried exporting a few contacts out of Outlook 2016 as a CSV file, even then nothing happens. I’ve tried FF and Chrome.

    • Michael Walsh

      I’ve run into the same roadblock over the last day or so. I have tried to add contacts using a CSV, even one that I had just exported from google contacts, and either get an “Unknown error”‘ error or simply nothing happens. This is beyond frustrating.

      • danelabonte

        Same here. After working for years, just started not working for me today January 18, 2018. Last used it successfully just last week.

        • David Sims

          Me – too – I thought I was doing something wrong!!
          Tried CSV, vcard – nothing no error messages, so frustrating

          • danelabonte

            David, see Bathinda’s comments here from today Friday 1/19/2018, and mine. Looks like the contacts are finally showing up, trying checking yours.

      • danelabonte

        Michael, see Bathinda’s comments here from today Friday 1/19/2018, and mine. Looks like the contacts are finally showing up, trying checking yours.

    • danelabonte

      Same here, I’m so glad to find others with this problem, I thought I was going crazy, but this is very very unhelpful from Google.

    • Bathinda Helper

      Yesterday it wasn’t working. And then I found 2 good workarounds and then after I found that those workarounds were good enough, shut my PC yesterday.

      And today, it suddenly started working, even for those CSV’s which were created and weren’t working yesterday.

      Although, I’ve found written somewhere that many people have reported that ‘import contacts’ stopped working for them suddenly one day and then started working at some other time. May be google’s servers get overloaded, or may be we try too many times in one go, or whatever.

      The workarounds I found successful: In new G Contacts interface, there are 2 additional commands, import from Yahoo Contacts and Import from Outlook (Directly, without any csv creating in between). Both succeeded swimmingly.

      • danelabonte

        Again, same here for me. Today I have multiple copies of the contact I was trying to import yesterday, looks like all of my “failed” attempts finally went through. Though my problem now is that Google doesn’t recognize the multiple copies as duplicates so won’t clean them up…

        EDIT – the old version of Google Contacts does recognize the multiple instances of the contact as duplicates and was able to clean them up. No idea why the new version of Contacts didn’t.