InsertCursor establishes a write cursor on a feature class or table. InsertCursor can be used to add new rows.

Learn more about data access using cursors


When using InsertCursor on a point feature class, creating a PointGeometry and setting it to the SHAPE@ token is a computationally intensive operation. Instead, define the point feature using tokens such as SHAPE@XY, SHAPE@Z, and SHAPE@M for faster, more efficient access.

Insert cursors support with statements to aid in the removal of locks. However, you can also use a del statement to delete the cursor object or wrap the cursor in a function so that the cursor object goes out of scope to prevent all locking cases.

Opening simultaneous insert or update operations on the same workspace using different cursors requires the start of an edit session.

The following includes some dataset types that can only be edited within an edit session:

  • Feature classes participating in a topology
  • Feature classes participating in a geometric network
  • Feature classes participating in a network dataset
  • Versioned datasets in enterprise geodatabases
  • Some object and feature classes with class extensions

Using InsertCursor on a layer with a joined table is not supported.

When a field has a default value, a cursor applies the default value when the field is not specified or is set to None.


InsertCursor (in_table, field_names, {datum_transformation}, {explicit})
ParameterExplanationData Type

The feature class, layer, table, or table view.


A list (or tuple) of field names. For a single field, you can use a string instead of a list of strings.

Use an asterisk (*) instead of a list of fields to access all fields from the input table (BLOB fields are excluded). However, for faster performance and reliable field order, it is recommended that the list of fields be narrowed to only those that are actually needed.

Raster fields are not supported.

Additional information can be accessed using tokens (such as OID@) in place of field names:

  • SHAPE@XYA tuple of the feature's centroid x,y coordinates.
  • SHAPE@XYZA tuple of the feature's centroid x,y,z coordinates.
  • SHAPE@TRUECENTROIDA tuple of the feature's centroid x,y coordinates. This returns the same value as SHAPE@XY.
  • SHAPE@XA double of the feature's x-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@YA double of the feature's y-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@ZA double of the feature's z-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@MA double of the feature's m-value.
  • SHAPE@JSON The Esri JSON string representing the geometry.
  • SHAPE@WKBThe well-known binary (WKB) representation for OGC geometry. It provides a portable representation of a geometry value as a contiguous stream of bytes. Values can be added as a bytearray or bytes object.
  • SHAPE@WKTThe well-known text (WKT) representation for OGC geometry. It provides a portable representation of a geometry value as a text string.
  • SHAPE@A geometry object for the feature.
  • SUBTYPE@An integer of the subtype code.

Polygon, polyline, or multipoint features can only be created using the SHAPE@ token.


When features to be inserted have a different spatial reference than the target feature class, a projection will be performed automatically. If the two spatial references have a different datum, an appropriate transformation should be specified.

The ListTransformations function can be used to provide a list of valid datum transformations between two spatial references.

Learn more about datum transformations


If a field has a default value and the field is nullable, using a value of True will explicitly override the default value and insert null values into the record. When using a value of False, the default value will be inserted instead of null.

Apply the explicit rule to all fields:

with arcpy.da.InsertCursor(table, [field1, field2, field3], explicit=True) as cursor:

The explicit rule can also be applied to individual fields using a list of Boolean values. The list of values must be the same length as the list of fields.

Apply the explicit rule to only the first two fields specified:

with arcpy.da.InsertCursor(table, [field1, field2, field3], explicit=[True, True, False]) as cursor:
    # ...

(The default value is False)



PropertyExplanationData Type
(Read Only)

A tuple of field names used by the cursor.

The tuple will include all fields and tokens specified by the field_names argument.

The order of the field names on the fields property will be the same as passed in with the field_names argument.

If the field_names argument is set to *, the fields property will include all fields used by the cursor. A value of * will return geometry in a tuple of x,y coordinates (equivalent to the SHAPE@XY token).


Method Overview

insertRow (row)

Inserts a row into a table.


insertRow (row)
ParameterExplanationData Type

A list or tuple of values. The order of values must be in the same order as specified when creating the cursor.

When updating fields, if the incoming values match the type of field, the values will be cast as necessary. For example, a value of 1.0 to a string field will be added as "1.0", and a value of "25" added to a float field will be added as 25.0.

Return Value
Data TypeExplanation

insertRow returns the objectid of the new row.

Code sample

InsertCursor example 1

Use InsertCursor to insert new rows into a table.

import arcpy
import datetime

# Create an insert cursor for a table specifying the fields that will
# have values provided
fields = ['rowid', 'distance', 'CFCC', 'DateInsp']

with arcpy.da.InsertCursor('D:/data/base.gdb/roads_maint', fields) as cursor:

    # Create 25 new rows. Set default values on distance and CFCC code
    for x in range(0, 25):
        cursor.insertRow((x, 100, 'A10',
InsertCursor example 2

Use InsertCursor with the SHAPE@XY token to add point features to a point feature class.

import arcpy

# A list of values that will be used to construct new rows
row_values = [('Anderson', (1409934.4442000017, 1076766.8192000017)),
              ('Andrews', (752000.2489000037, 1128929.8114))]

# Open an InsertCursor using a context manager
with arcpy.da.InsertCursor('C:/data/texas.gdb/counties', ['NAME', 'SHAPE@XY']) as cursor:

    # Insert new rows that include the county name and a x,y coordinate
    #  pair that represents the county center
    for row in row_values:
InsertCursor example 3

Use InsertCursor with the SHAPE@ token to add a new feature using a geometry object.

import arcpy

# Create a polyline geometry
array = arcpy.Array([arcpy.Point(459111.6681, 5010433.1285),
                     arcpy.Point(472516.3818, 5001431.0808),
                     arcpy.Point(477710.8185, 4986587.1063)])
polyline = arcpy.Polyline(array)

# Open an InsertCursor using a context manager and insert the new geometry
with arcpy.da.InsertCursor('C:/data/texas.gdb/counties', ['SHAPE@']) as cursor:

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