Complete Guide To PL SQL Exception Handling With Examples

This tutorial explains PL SQL Exception Handling and related concepts like types of exceptions, user-defined and system-defined exceptions, how to raise an exception, etc:

In PL/SQL Datetime Format of PL/SQL series, we learned about some useful functions around Datetime, Timestamp, and Interval

In this article, we will discuss exception handling in PL SQL. Also, we shall explore the advantages of exceptions and how to raise them.

Let’s start with the learnings!!

PL SQL Exception Handling

PL SQL Exception Handling

An error or a warning event is called an exception. It is encountered during the run time execution of the PL/SQL program. PL/SQL has mechanisms to handle these exceptional conditions with the help of the EXCEPTION block of code where it is defined how to counter the error condition.

There are two types of exceptions. They are listed below:

  • User-defined exceptions.
  • System defined exceptions.

Some of the popular System defined exceptions are out of memory and division by zero, having names like STORAGE_ERROR and ZERO_DIVIDE respectively. User-defined exceptions are declared in a package, subprogram, or within the declaration section of the PL/SQL block of code and should be assigned names.

Once an exception occurs, the natural flow of execution is halted, and then the execution points to the exception section of the PL/SQL code. While the system defined exceptions are thrown by default, the user-defined ones have to be thrown explicitly by the RAISE keyword.

Thus the exception handling helps to deal with the errors that are encountered during the run time execution and not while compiling the program.

Advantages Of Exception Handling

The advantages are listed below:

  • If our code does not have an exception handling, then each time we execute a statement, we must verify errors in execution.
  • If we avoid exception handling in our code, the actual errors get missed which gives rise to some other errors.
  • The exception handling allows skipping multiple verifications in the code.
  • It provides better readability of the code by isolating the error handlers in the code.

Exception Handling Syntax:

   << declaration section >> 
   <<Block of executable code>> 
       << exception handling >> 
   WHEN excp1 THEN  
      << excp1 handling block >>
   WHEN excp2  THEN  
      << excp2 handling block >>

   WHEN others THEN 
    << excp2 handling block>>

The default exception is carried out with WHEN others THEN.

Let us consider a table which is named CITIZEN.


 CITIZEN table

We have created the CITIZEN table with the help of the SQL statement given below.

   AGE INT NOT NULL,       

Insert values to this table with SQL statements given below:


Coding Implementation with exception handling:

   citizen_age citizen.age%type := 9; 
   SELECT  id, name INTO  citizen_id, citizen_name 
   FROM citizen 
   WHERE age = citizen_age;  
   DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Citizen id is: '||  citizen_id); 
   DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Citizen name is: '||  citizen_name); 

   WHEN no_data_found THEN 
      dbms_output.put_line ('No citizen detail found'); 
   WHEN others THEN 
      dbms_output.put_line ('Errors'); 

The output of the above code:

Coding Implementation

In the above code, as there are no citizens with age 9 in the CITIZEN table, a runtime exception is raised.

Raise Exception In PL/SQL

An exception can be raised by the developers explicitly with the help of the keyword RAISE.

The syntax for exception raising:

   exception_n EXCEPTION; 
   IF condition THEN 
      RAISE exception_n; 
   END IF; 
   WHEN exception_n THEN 
       << exception handling code >>; 

Here the exception_n is the name of the exception that we are raising. In this way, we can raise both user-defined and system-defined exceptions.

User-Defined Exception

The developers can build their own exceptions and use them for handling errors. They can be created in the declaration part of a subprogram and can be accessed only inside that subprogram.

An exception that is created at the package level can be used whenever the package is accessed. A user-defined exception can be raised by using the RAISE keyword.

The syntax for a user-defined error is:

exception_n EXCEPTION;

Here, the exception_n is the name of the exception that we are raising. Thus we can declare an exception by giving a name followed by the EXCEPTION keyword. An exception can be declared in a similar manner like variables are declared. However, an exception is an unexpected condition and not a data item.

Scope of Exception in PL/SQL:

The rules of scope for PL/SQL exception are listed below:

  • An exception cannot be declared more than once in the same block of code. But we can declare the same exception in two different blocks of code.
  • An exception declared within a block of code is local within that block and global to every sub-block.
  • If we again declare a global exception inside a sub-block, the local declaration overrules.

Let us again consider a table which is named CITIZEN.

Code Implementation with user defined exceptions:

    firstexception EXCEPTION;
    j NUMBER;
        IF j.ID = 8 THEN
            RAISE firstexception;
        END IF;
    WHEN firstexception THEN
        dbms_output.put_line ('Citizen with ID 8 already exist in table.'); 

The output of the above code:

Code Implementation with user defined exceptions

Pre-Defined Exception

In violation of database rules or going beyond the system-dependent threshold, an internal exception is thrown automatically. All these errors have a unique number and every exception is defined as a name. For example, PL/SQL throws NO_DATA_FOUND predefined exception when a SELECT query fetches no rows.

All the predefined exceptions of PL/SQL are declared in the STANDARD package which deals with the PL/SQL environment.

ExceptionOracle ErrorSQL CODEDescription
ACCESS_INTO_NULLORA - 06530-6530This exception is raised if a null object is naturally assigned a value.
CASE_NOT_FOUNDORA - 06592-6592This exception is raised if none of the options in the WHEN clause is chosen and there is no existence of an ELSE clause.
COLLECTION_IS_NULLORA - 06531-6531This exception is raised when the code tries to apply collection methods except EXISTS to a nested table or varray which is not initialized. It can also be raised if our code tries to assign values to a nested table or varray which is not initialized.
DUP_VAL_ON_INDEXORA - 00001-1This exception is raised if duplicate values are tried to be stored in a column that is constrained by a unique index.
CURSOR_ALREADY_OPENORA - 06511-6511This exception is raised if our code tries to open an already open cursor.
INVALID_CURSORORA - 01001-1001This exception is raised if we try to do some operations on cursors which are not permitted. For example, attempting to close an already closed cursor.
INVALID_NUMBERORA - 01722-1722This exception is raised if the conversion to a character string to a number does not pass as the string is representing an invalid number.
LOGIN_DENIEDORA - 01017-1017This exception is raised if the program tried to log on to the database with an improper username and password.
NO_DATA_FOUNDORA - 01403100This exception is raised if a SELECT query fetches no rows.
NOT_LOGGED_ONORA - 01012-1012This exception is raised if we attempt to do a database operation without connecting to it.
PROGRAM_ERRORORA - 06501-6501This exception is raised if the PL/SQL program has encountered an internal error.
ROWTYPE_MISMATCHORA - 06504-6504This exception is raised if a cursor attempts to return values to a variable with incompatible data type.
SELF_IS_NULLORA - 30625-30625This exception is raised if a member method is called without initializing its object type.
STORAGE_ERRORORA - 06500-6500This exception is raised if the PL/SQL program ran out of memory or its memory got corrupted while executing.
TOO_MANY_ROWSORA - 01422-1422This exception is raised if a SELECT query fetches multiple rows.
SUBSCRIPT_BEYOND_COUNTORA - 06533-6533This exception is raised if a subscript is more than the total count of the number of elements in the collection.
SUBSCRIPT_OUTSIDE_LIMITORA - 06532-6532This exception is raised if a subscript is beyond the threshold range.
SYS_INVALID_ROWIDORA-01410-1410This exception is raised if the conversion to a character string to a universal row id does not pass as the character string is representing an invalid row id.
TIMEOUT_ON_RESOURCEORA-00051-51This exception is raised if Oracle is waiting for a resource.
VALUE_ERRORORA-06502-6502This exception is raised if a mathematical, conversion, truncation error happens in our program.
ZERO_DIVIDEORA-01476-1476This exception is raised if we try to divide a number by 0.

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

Q #1) What is a predefined exception in PL/SQL?

Answer: A predefined exception is thrown by PL/SQL automatically if there is a violation of the rules of the database by a program.

Q #2) What is PL/SQL exception handling and why it is needed?

Answer: An error or unexpected event in the program is called an Exception. It halts the normal flow of execution of the program. In PL/SQL, the exception is handled within an EXCEPTION block in the code and proper action against the exception is described inside that block.

Q #3) What is meant by exception handling?

Answer: It is the method of responding to unexpected events that may occur while executing the code.

Q #4) What are the two forms of error handling?

Answer: The two forms of error handling include compile-time error and run time error. The run time error happens during the execution of the program due to improper data or logic. The compile-time errors are caught during the compilation of our code.

Q #5) What is the difference between error and exception?

Answer: Exceptions are incidents that are handled with the help of try/catch block and can be encountered both in the compile-time and run-time of the program execution. The errors, on the other hand, are encountered at the run time only.


In this tutorial, we have discussed in detail some basic concepts of PL/SQL that are essential to managing the exceptions in our programs.

We have covered the following topics listed below:

  • Exceptions.
  • Types of Exceptions.
  • Some predefined Exceptions.

In the next tutorial, we shall discuss the PL/SQL transactions, OOPS concepts, and many more connected topics.

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