DBF file structure

A table file consists of a header record and data records. The header record defines the structure of the table and contains any other information related to the table. The header record starts at file position zero. Data records follow the header, in consecutive bytes, and contain the actual text of the fields.

Note: The data in the data file starts at the position indicated in bytes 8 to 9 of the header record. Data records begin with a delete flag byte. If this byte is an ASCII space (0x20), the record is not deleted. If the first byte is an asterisk (0x2A), the record is deleted. The data from the fields named in the field subrecords follows the delete flag.

The length of a record, in bytes, is determined by summing the defined lengths of all fields. Integers in table files are stored with the least significant byte first.

Table Header Record Structure

Byte offset Description
0 File type:
0x02   FoxBASE
0x03   FoxBASE+/Dbase III plus, no memo
0x30   Visual FoxPro
0x31   Visual FoxPro, autoincrement enabled
0x32   Visual FoxPro, Varchar, Varbinary, or Blob-enabled
0x43   dBASE IV SQL table files, no memo
0x63   dBASE IV SQL system files, no memo
0x83   FoxBASE+/dBASE III PLUS, with memo
0x8B   dBASE IV with memo
0xCB   dBASE IV SQL table files, with memo
0xF5   FoxPro 2.x (or earlier) with memo
0xFB   FoxBASE
1 - 3 Last update (YYMMDD)
4 – 7 Number of records in file
8 – 9 Position of first data record
10 – 11 Length of one data record, including delete flag
12 – 13 Reserved
14 Incomplete transaction/Transaction ended (or rolled back)/Transaction started
15 Encryption flag
16 – 27 Reserved
28 Table flags:
0x01   file has a structural .cdx
0x02   file has a Memo field
0x04   file is a database (.dbc)
This byte can contain the sum of any of the above values. For example, the value 0x03 indicates the table has a structural .cdx and a Memo field.
29 Code page mark
30 – 31 Reserved, contains 0x00
32 Header record terminator (0x0D)

Field Subrecords Structure

Byte offset Description
0 – 10 Field name with a maximum of 10 characters. If less than 10, it is padded with null characters (0x00).
11 Field type:
C   –   Character
Y   –   Currency
N   –   Numeric
F   –   Float
D   –   Date
T   –   DateTime
B   –   Double
I   –   Integer
L   –   Logical
M   – Memo
G   – General
C   –   Character (binary)
M   –   Memo (binary)
P   –   Picture
Q   –   Varbinary
V   –   Varchar (binary)


For each Varchar and Varbinary field, one bit, or "varlength" bit, is allocated in the last system field, which is a hidden field and stores the null status for all fields that can be null. If the Varchar or Varbinary field can be null, the null bit follows the "varlength" bit. If the "varlength" bit is set to 1, the length of the actual field value length is stored in the last byte of the field. Otherwise, if the bit is set to 0, length of the value is equal to the field size.

12 – 15 Displacement of field in record
16 Length of field (in bytes)
17 Number of decimal places
18 Field flags:
0x01   System Column (not visible to user)
0x02   Column can store null values
0x04   Binary column (for CHAR and MEMO only)
0x06   (0x02+0x04) When a field is NULL and binary (Integer, Currency, and Character/Memo fields)
0x0C   Column is autoincrementing
19 - 22 Value of autoincrement Next value
23 Value of autoincrement Step value
24 – 31 Reserved