As per the Microsoft documentation - A Subscriber to a transactional publication can be any version within two versions of the Publisher version. For example:

a SQL Server 2012 (11.x) Publisher can have SQL Server 2014 (12.x) and SQL Server 2016 (13.x) Subscribers;


a SQL Server 2016 (13.x) Publisher can have SQL Server 2014 (12.x) and SQL Server 2012 (11.x) Subscribers.

But the subscription I am trying to create from

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (SP3) (KB3072779) - 11.0.6020.0 (X64) to Microsoft SQL Server 2016 (SP2-CU12) (KB4536648) - 13.0.5698.0 (X64)

is failing and here is the error message I receive -

The selected subscriber does not satisfy the minimum version compatibility level of the selected publication.

Are these versions not compatible?

  • What are you using for a distributor? Are you running the distributor on the publisher? Subscriber? Or a dedicated distributor?
    – AMtwo
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


The other half of the version requirements is that your distributor be the highest SQL Server version in your Replication topography.

In your case, you are replicating from SQL Server 2012 to SQL Server 2016, which works only if your distributor is also SQL Server 2016.

If you are running your distribution database on your 2012 publisher, configuration will fail when you add the subscriber because a subscriber is at a higher version than the distributor. You would need to either run a dedicated distributor (recommended), or use your 2016 subscriber as the distributor server.

The error message you posted is deceptive because it's not a subscriber/publisher version issue, but rather a subscriber/distributor version issue.

  • :Thanks so much for the clarification. I shall try changing the distributor. Commented May 7, 2020 at 12:38
  • It worked,Thank you! Commented May 7, 2020 at 20:09

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