How to Import a chart of accounts in XERO ?

 In this article, we’re going to cover how to import a chart of accounts in Xero to follow along with us login to your Xero account now or can access the free 30-day trial. Let’s get started. Before you can import your chart of accounts it is ideal to have your old list in an Excel or CSV format so that you can easily copy and paste the information to the chart of the account’s template we will download from Xero. Most accounting software programs will give you the option to download your chart of accounts list into a spreadsheet format, if your current accounting software does not allow you to do this then you will have to manually key the information into the Xero chart of accounts template. Once you’ve got your list you are ready to import your chart of accounts into Xero. 


From your Xero dashboard, you want to go ahead and navigate to the chart of accounts by clicking on the settings and general settings. Right below the reports, select a chart of accounts. From the chart of accounts screen, you want to click on the import button here and then you’ll be able to find the chart of accounts template right below this example file. So you want to go ahead and click on this file so that the excel template will download to your computer and then we will make preparations to set it up for the import. An Excel template similar to this one should have downloaded to your computer be sure to save the template before you start working with it. As you can see there are a total of nine columns in this template, however, the only required columns are the first four. Please note that if you have foreign currency accounts you cannot import those accounts. Instead, remove all foreign currency accounts from the spreadsheet. You will need to turn on the multiple currency feature first and then add foreign currency accounts to the chart of accounts individually to assign the appropriate currency.


 Now we would like to share some tips with you on formatting your import file. 


  • Tip #1: every column must have a column header, as you can see.
  •  Tip #2: You can have a maximum of 700 rows, one column header, and 699 accounts. If you have more than 699 accounts to import you will need to manually add any additional accounts to Xero. Be sure to check out how to set up a chart of accounts lesson for step-by-step instructions on how to add an account manually.
  •  Tip #3: If you decide not to provide information for one of the optional fields, for example, the balance column, you can either delete that column or leave the column heading and just make sure all the sales are blank as we have done here.
  •  Tip #4: Format the code column as text. 
  • Tip #5: Save the file in a CSV format.


 Now let’s walk through the steps to import your chart of accounts into Xero. Let’s go ahead and return back to our chart of accounts, so we can import our spreadsheet. So from the settings menu go ahead and select general settings, chart of accounts and let’s go back to where we were before and select the import button. Before we can import our spreadsheet into Xero we’ve got to check off a couple of things. So first, what system are you importing from? This will automatically be selected as Xero. This is because even when you import chart of accounts from another system you must format all of the data using the Xero template like we just did together. Does the file you’re importing contain account balances? So either say yes if you included information in that last column or say no if you left it blank as we did for ours. Once you’ve answered those two questions the next step is to just click the Browse button and locate the file that you saved as a CSV. Once you have selected the file that you want to import you should see the name of the file here to the right of the Browse button. Once you see that, go ahead and click the import button.


 In this screen, we have one last opportunity to review and confirm the total accounts that will be imported. If for some reason you find an error, you want to go ahead and click the cancel button to stop the import. So from this screen, as you can see we’ve got a section that says “Includes”. This part of the summary provides a breakdown of the total number of accounts that will be imported. You’ve got six new accounts, three updated accounts, and eight system accounts that were not updated. We’ve also got some accounts that will be excluded.


 So let’s talk about new accounts: A new account is an account that did not previously exist in Xero or it’s an existing account that you changed the code for. An updated account is an existing account in Xero that you changed either the name or the description of. System accounts: If the chart of accounts that you import does not include the required Xero system accounts, these will be included in the new accounts created and cannot be deleted. System accounts are set up by Xero for a specific purpose. for example, accounts payable and accounts receivable, RS system accounts. Now let’s talk about accounts that were deleted or archived. In this example, we have 49 accounts that will be deleted or archived. If you are importing a chart of accounts and one already exists in Xero, it will delete or archive any account that is not in your import file. If the account was previously used in a transaction then it will be archived so that your financial statements remain intact. However, if the account has never been used then it will be deleted since it will have no impact on your financial statements.  Once you’re satisfied that everything here matches what your spreadsheet has, go ahead and click the confirm button to import the data. Once you have completed the import you should be able to see the accounts that you imported in your chart of accounts list here. 


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