What Is External ID In Salesforce?

By Charlotte Miller

Are you curious to know what is external id in salesforce? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about external id in salesforce in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is external id in salesforce?

Salesforce is a powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform used by organizations to manage and analyze customer interactions, streamline sales processes, and enhance customer service. One of the essential features in Salesforce is the use of External IDs. In this blog, we will explore what External IDs are in Salesforce, their significance, and how they simplify data management within the platform.

What Is External ID In Salesforce?

In Salesforce, an External ID is a custom or standard field that you can use to uniquely identify records within a specific object. Unlike Salesforce’s standard record IDs, which are automatically generated and not suitable for external systems or data integration, External IDs are often used for integrating data from other systems or managing data across various Salesforce orgs.

Key Characteristics Of External IDs:

  1. Customizable: External IDs can be created as custom fields on any Salesforce object, allowing you to define the criteria for uniquely identifying records.
  2. Uniqueness: Each record within the specified object must have a distinct value in its External ID field. This uniqueness ensures that no duplicate records are created during data integration or import processes.
  3. Indexing: Salesforce automatically indexes External ID fields, which improves query performance when searching for records by their External ID values.
  4. Data Integration: External IDs are commonly used when integrating Salesforce with external systems, such as databases, marketing automation platforms, or other CRM systems. They enable seamless data exchange and synchronization.

Significance Of External IDs

  1. Data Integrity: External IDs play a crucial role in maintaining data integrity within Salesforce. They help prevent the creation of duplicate records and ensure that each record is uniquely identifiable.
  2. Data Import: When importing data into Salesforce, External IDs simplify the matching and updating of existing records. If a record with a matching External ID exists, the imported data can be linked to that record, preventing duplicates.
  3. Data Integration: External IDs facilitate data synchronization between Salesforce and external systems. When records are updated in one system, the External ID can be used to match and update corresponding records in the other system.
  4. Cross-Org Data Sharing: Organizations with multiple Salesforce orgs can use External IDs to link and share data across different instances of Salesforce, promoting data consistency.
  5. API Access: External IDs are essential for Salesforce API (Application Programming Interface) access. Developers can use External IDs to identify and manipulate records programmatically.

How To Use External IDs In Salesforce?

  1. Create an External ID Field: To use External IDs, you first need to create a custom field with the External ID attribute on the object where you want to uniquely identify records.
  2. Populate External ID Values: Ensure that each record in the object has a unique value in its External ID field. This value can be generated from an external system or defined manually.
  3. Data Integration: When integrating Salesforce with external systems or importing data, you can use the External ID field to map and match records, preventing duplicates and ensuring accurate data transfer.


External IDs in Salesforce are a valuable feature that simplifies data management, maintains data integrity, and facilitates data integration with external systems. By enabling unique identification of records within an object, External IDs empower organizations to effectively manage and exchange data, supporting more streamlined and efficient CRM processes. Whether you are integrating data or ensuring data consistency across multiple Salesforce orgs, External IDs are a fundamental tool in your Salesforce toolkit.

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What Is The Difference Between ID And External ID In Salesforce?

In Salesforce, the distinction between external ID and internal ID is crucial for data management and integration. An external ID is a custom field that holds a unique identifier from an external system, often used to establish a link between records in Salesforce and records in another system.

What Is An Example Of An External ID In Salesforce?

External IDs are often created with the ‘Unique ID’ setting so that the External IDs are unique to each record. Example: You could create a 5-character text field and set that field as a ‘Unique ID’.

How External ID Is Generated In Salesforce?

Create an external ID field

  • In a browser, log in to Salesforce.com.
  • Near the top of the screen, click your user name, and then click Setup.
  • Under Build, click Customize, and then select the object you want to update—for example, Account.
  • Click the Add a custom field to accounts link.

What Is The Benefit Of External ID In Salesforce?

Benefits of using External ID field:

We can directly upsert data using external field. (Upsert is combination of insert and update, if the record already exists in the system it will update else it will insert a new record) We can create parent child record without querying for parent record ID.

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