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QuickBooks 2019 & 2020 IIF Import

QuickBooks Changes

Intuit has significantly changed how QuickBooks 2019 and Enterprise 19.0 import IIF files. QuickBooks 2020 also includes these changes.

When importing, QuickBooks now optionally, and by default, imposes many more rules and restrictions in an effort to ensure… something. We are not sure what.

Unfortunately, this new error checking imposes new restrictions and has some omissions/bugs – most all of the changes are unhelpful.

There are several issues which actually stop QuickBooks from importing normal and valid IIF files – files that have always worked and continue to work in preceding version years of QuickBooks.

As a result, IIF files that used to work won’t anymore, at least by default.  But there’s a way! Keep reading…

For those using our apps, we’ve released updates to accommodate some of these issues. However, there are remaining QuickBooks issues you may run into. As a result, we recommend the choices below.

Import Options Overview

Luckily, QuickBooks now offers two ways to import: The new default method and the older method you may have been using with older QuickBooks versions. This second method is hidden behind a scary-looking link.

The two QB 2019/20 options are seen here:

It is very-tempting blue Import IIF button. Don’t!

The Import IIF button imports using the new and restrictive error checking method. IIF files created with older releases of our apps will not import using this method. There also several bugs and unnecessary restrictions, and we keep finding more of them.

The Import it for me link uses the method we’ve all been using with IIF files for many years. IIF files created with our applications work best with this option.

You may need to use this option in order to get around bugs with the new method and for a growing list of specific cases.


a. Use the Import it for me option!

  • This option uses the more reliable and more accurate IIF import code. It is the same as older versions of QuickBooks.
  • The “I’ll fix it later” text suggests you’ll have to fix something, but that misleading and is unlikely to be the case.
  • Avoid the bugs and limitations with the new method – some noted below.

b. For users of our applications, download and install the latest release of your BRC app(s):

The latest releases of our apps will create IIF files that are a little different than older versions and are more compliant with the new Import IIF option (though we don’t recommend using it.) These releases also contain the latest code, feature changes, and fixes to other unrelated issues.

If you use the new/default Import IIF option (not recommended!)

  • You may be blocked during your import attempt by issues that are not really issues.
  • One of the known bugs may impact the import results.
  • Import will be 10 – 20 times slower.

Known Bugs using the new/default IIF import method

These are some of the new restrictions & bugs, most of which are avoided when using the recommended method above.

  1. When importing time records, QuickBooks may error and indicate that the related employee address is invalid – even though you are not importing changes to the employee.
  2. Import will fail if class field values on time records are not dates – but the class list is not a list of dates.
  3. The Send Later (email later) status for sales forms is ignored.
  4. QuickBooks will not import reverse/credit lines on transactions. For example, you can’t import a return line item on an invoice, a line that reduces the invoice total. – this may be fixed.
  5. It will not import 0.00 amount invoices (and perhaps other sales) even if the details of the invoice are non-zero.
  6. Document numbers are incorrectly limited to 12 characters though much larger values are actually allowed in QB.
  7. Phone numbers on name records are incorrectly limited in length which will often cause the extension to be omitted – while much longer values are actually accepted in QB.
  8. If you attempt to include a semi-colon (;) on a record in the IIF file, QB stops reading the line at the semi-colon.  If there are required fields after that, the import fails.  If optional fields, then they are not imported and you will lose data.
  9. If you include any characters with a computer-ascii value a little larger than a tilda (~) QB now imports it as a “?” character – while all other QB versions work as expected.
    1. Characters include “€‚ƒ„…†‡ˆ‰Š‹ŒŽ‘’“”•–—˜™š›œžŸ ¡¢£¤¥¦§¨©ª«¬®¯°±²³´µ¶·¸¹º»¼½¾¿ÀÁÂÃÄÅÆÇÈÉÊËÌÍÎÏÐÑÒÓÔÕÖ×ØÙÚÛÜÝÞßàáâãäåæçèéêëìíîïðñòóôõö÷øùúûüýþÿ”
    2. Also higher-end characters beyond this range.
    3. QB does support these characters using the old IIF import and the regular user interface.
    4. This means no names with European/international characters will work.  For example,  René Cresté will import as “Ren? Crest?”.
  10. The reconciled status is ignored during import. All transactions are imported as uncleared, which completely defeats the use of the field.
  11. While the reconciled status is ignored, QB still checks the values and will block the entire import if there is a single reconciled status other than Y or N or empty. But both IIF and QB support a third status, “newly cleared”, the “*” you can see in the register, which is represented in IIF using a third character.
  12. Import fails if you omit the customer on sales receipt transactions. But at the same time QB does not require a customer on sales receipt transactions. You can record them without a name, which is commonly done when importing daily sales transactions.
  13. When importing employees with perfectly formatted addresses – they are trashed: the City, State, ZIP fields are duplicated and entered in the second street address field.
  14. When importing a check with no check number (since it is not really a check, for example, but a debit charge or similar) QuickBooks assigns a check number anyway. – this may be fixed.
  15. Budget records will not import – QuickBooks gives an error: “It’s a list or transaction that is not supported by the IIF import process.”  Which is of course wrong.
  16. When importing Group items and their detail on sales transactions, QB ignores the contents of the IIF file and just applies the group as it exists on your items list. So if you have customized the contents of the group, changed the amounts or the items included, none of that will be imported.