Creates an identity column in a table. This property is used with the CREATE TABLE and ALTER TABLE Transact-SQL statements.

The identity property on a column does not guarantee the following:

  • Uniqueness of the value – Uniqueness must be enforced by using a PRIMARY KEY or UNIQUE constraint or UNIQUE index.
  • Consecutive values within a transaction – A transaction inserting multiple rows is not guaranteed to get consecutive values for the rows because other concurrent inserts might occur on the table. If values must be consecutive then the transaction should use an exclusive lock on the table or use the SERIALIZABLE isolation level.
  • Consecutive values after server restart or other failures –SQL Server might cache identity values for performance reasons and some of the assigned values can be lost during a database failure or server restart. This can result in gaps in the identity value upon insert. If gaps are not acceptable then the application should use its own mechanism to generate key values. Using a sequence generator with the NOCACHE option can limit the gaps to transactions that are never committed.
  • Reuse of values – For a given identity property with specific seed/increment, the identity values are not reused by the engine. If a particular insert statement fails or if the insert statement is rolled back then the consumed identity values are lost and will not be generated again. This can result in gaps when the subsequent identity values are generated.


IDENTITY (Property) (Transact-SQL)