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In recent versions of postgreSQL one can use the syntax:

create temp table if not exist my_table as 
...

to create a temporary table if it doesn't exist yet.

However, the clause if not exist is a relatively recent feature.

I am working against a database that uses PostgreSQL version 8.2.15. How can I create a temporary table if it doesn't exist yet?

  • Upgrade? Seriously, 8.2.15? – Craig Ringer Feb 11 '14 at 0:24
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The actual solution very much depends on your exact situation. If you can use a pl/pgsql function, you can check first for the existence of the table:

IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM pg_class WHERE relname = 'my_table')
THEN
    CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE my_table ...
END IF;

You could also try to match the schema name (which will be something like pg_temp*) by joining the pg_namespace table to pg_class. Or use the pg_tables view, which can be a bit easier.

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