DDL for User-Defined Functions, External Functions, and Stored Procedures


Creates a new external function.

See also:



CREATE [ OR REPLACE ] [ SECURE ] EXTERNAL FUNCTION <name> ( [ <arg_name> <arg_data_type> ] [ , ... ] )
  RETURNS <result_data_type>
  [ [ NOT ] NULL ]
  [ COMMENT = '<string_literal>' ]
  API_INTEGRATION = <api_integration_name>
  [ HEADERS = ( '<header_1>' = '<value_1>' [ , '<header_2>' = '<value_2>' ... ] ) ]
  [ CONTEXT_HEADERS = ( <context_function_1> [ , context_function_2> ...] ) ]
  [ MAX_BATCH_ROWS = <integer> ]
  [ COMPRESSION = <compression_type> ]
  AS <url_of_proxy_and_resource>;

Required Parameters


Specifies the identifier for the function.

The identifier can contain the schema name and database name, as well as the function name.

The identifier does not need to be unique for the schema in which the function is created because functions are identified and resolved by their name and argument types. However, the signature (name and argument data types) must be unique within the schema.

The name must follow the rules for Snowflake identifiers. For more details, see Identifier Requirements.

Setting name the same as the remote service name can make the relationship more clear. However, this is not required.

( [ arg_name arg_data_type ] [ , ... ] )

Specifies the arguments/inputs for the external function. These should correspond to the arguments that the remote service expects.

If there are no arguments, then include the parentheses without any argument name(s) and data type(s).


Specifies the data type returned by the function.


This is the name of the API integration object that should be used to authenticate the call to the proxy service.


This is the invocation URL of the proxy service (e.g. API Gateway or API Management service) and resource through which Snowflake calls the remote service.

Optional Parameters


Specifies that the function is secure. If a function is secure, the URL, the HTTP headers, and the context headers are hidden from all users who are not owners of the function.

[ [ NOT ] NULL ]

This clause indicates whether the function can return NULL values or must return only NON-NULL values. If NOT NULL is specified, the function must return only non-NULL values. If NULL is specified, the function can return NULL values.

Default: The default is NULL (i.e. the function can return NULL values).


Specifies the behavior of the function when called with null inputs. In contrast to system-defined functions, which always return null when any input is null, external functions can handle null inputs, returning non-null values even when an input is null:

  • CALLED ON NULL INPUT will always call the function with null inputs. It is up to the function to handle such values appropriately.

  • RETURNS NULL ON NULL INPUT (or its synonym STRICT) will not call the function if any input is null. Instead, a null value will always be returned for that row. Note that the function might still return null for non-null inputs.



Specifies the behavior of the function when returning results:

  • VOLATILE: The function can return different values for different rows, even for the same input (e.g. due to non-determinism and statefullness).

  • IMMUTABLE: The function always returns the same result when called with the same input. Snowflake does not check or guarantee this; the remote service must be designed to behave this way. Specifying IMMUTABLE for a function that actually returns different values for the same input will result in undefined behavior.


Snowflake recommends that you set this explicitly rather than accept the default. Setting this explicitly reduces the chance of error, and tells users how the function behaves. (The SHOW EXTERNAL FUNCTIONS command shows whether a function is volatile or immutable.)

For important additional information about VOLATILE vs. IMMUTABLE external functions, see Categorize Your Function as Volatile or Immutable.

COMMENT = 'string_literal'

Specifies a comment for the function, which is displayed in the DESCRIPTION column in the SHOW FUNCTIONS and SHOW EXTERNAL FUNCTIONS output.

Default: user-defined function

[ HEADERS = ( '<header_1>' = '<value_1>' [ , '<header_2>' = '<value_2>' ... ] ) ]

This clause allows users to specify key-value metadata that is sent with every request. The creator of the external function decides what goes into the headers, and the caller does not have any control over it. Snowflake prepends all of the specified header names with the prefix “sf-custom-“, and sends them as HTTP headers.

The value must be a constant string, not an expression.

Here’s an example:

headers = (
    'volume-measure' = 'liters',
    'distance-measure' = 'kilometers'

This causes Snowflake to add 2 HTTP headers into every HTTPS request: sf-custom-volume-measure and sf-custom-distance-measure, with their corresponding values.

The rules for header names are different from the rules for Snowflake database identifiers. Header names can be composed of most visible standard ASCII characters (decimal 32 - 126) except the following:

  • the space character

  • (

  • )

  • ,

  • /

  • :

  • ;

  • <

  • >

  • =

  • "

  • ?

  • @

  • [

  • ]

  • \

  • {

  • }

  • _

Note specifically that the underscore character is not allowed in header names.

The header name and value are delimited by single quotes, so any single quotes inside the header name or value must be escaped with the backslash character.

If the backslash character is used as a literal character inside a header value, it must be escaped.

In header values, both spaces and tabs are allowed, but header values should not contain more than one whitespace chararacter in a row. This restriction applies to combinations of whitespace characters (e.g. a space followed by a tab) as well as individual whitespace characters (e.g. two spaces in a row).

If the function author marks the function as secure (with CREATE SECURE EXTERNAL FUNCTION...), then the headers, the context headers, the binary context headers, and the URL are not visible to function users.

The sum of the sizes of the header names and header values for an external function must be less than or equal to 8 KB.


This is similar to headers, but instead of using constant strings, it binds Snowflake context function results to HTTP headers. (For a list of Snowflake context functions, see: Context Functions.)

The function names should not be quoted.

Snowflake prepends “sf-context” to the header before it is written to the HTTP request.


context_headers = (current_timestamp)

In this example, Snowflake writes the header sf-context-current-timestamp into the HTTP request.

The characters allowed in context header names and values are the same as the characters allowed in custom header names and values.

Context functions can generate characters that are illegal in HTTP header values, including (but not limited to):

  • newline

  • Ä

  • Î

  • ß

  • ë

  • ¬

  • ±

  • ©

  • ®

Snowflake replaces each sequence of one or more illegal characters with one space character. (The replacement is per sequence, not per character.)

For example, suppose that the context function CURRENT_STATEMENT() returns:


The value sent in sf-context-current-statement is:

select /* */ my_external_function(1);

To ensure that remote services can access the original result (with illegal characters) from the context function even if illegal characters have been replaced, Snowflake also sends a binary context header that contains the context function result encoded in base64.

In the example above, the value sent in the base64 header is the result of calling:


The remote service is respnsible for decoding the base64 value if needed.

Each such base64 header is named according to the following convention:


In the example above, the name of the header would be


If no context headers are sent, then no base64 context headers are sent.

If the rows sent to an external function are split across multiple batches, then all batches contain the same context headers and the same binary context headers.

MAX_BATCH_ROWS = <integer>

This specifies the maximum number of rows in each batch sent to the proxy service.

The purpose of this parameter is to limit batch sizes for remote services that have memory constraints or other limitations. This parameter is not a performance tuning parameter. This parameter specifies a maximum size, not a recommended size.

If you do not specify MAX_BATCH_ROWS, Snowflake estimates the optimal batch size and uses that.

Snowflake recommends leaving this parameter unset unless the remote service requires a limit.

COMPRESSION = <compression_type>

If this clause is specified, the JSON payload is compressed when sent from Snowflake to the proxy service, and when sent back from the proxy service to Snowflake.

Valid values are:

  • NONE.

  • AUTO. (On AWS, this is equivalent to GZIP.)

  • GZIP.


The Amazon API Gateway automatically compresses/decompresses requests. For more information about Amazon API Gateway compression and decompression, see:

For information about compression and decompression for other cloud platform proxy services, see the documentation for those cloud platforms.

Default: The default is AUTO.

Usage Notes

  • To execute an external function, a role must have USAGE or OWNERSHIP privilege on the external function.

  • When compression is used, Snowflake sets the HTTP headers “Content-Encoding” and “Accept-Encoding”.

  • The argument type(s) and the return type cannot be GEOGRAPHY.


The following example shows a CREATE EXTERNAL FUNCTION statement that is called through an Amazon API Gateway proxy service:

create or replace external function local_echo(string_col VARCHAR)
    returns variant
    api_integration = demonstration_external_api_integration_01
    as '';

In this example:

  • local_echo is the name called from a SQL statement. (E.g. you can execute SELECT local_echo(varchar_column) ...;.)

  • string_col VARCHAR contains the name and data type of the input parameter(s). An external function can have 0, 1, or multiple input parameters.

  • variant is the data type of the value returned by the external function.

  • The name demonstration_external_api_integration_01 is the name of the API Integration created earlier in the CREATE API INTEGRATION statement.

  • The URL ‘’ is the string that identifies the proxy service and resource. An HTTP POST command is sent to this URL.