March 1, 2023 By Matthew Rathbone *

Oracle is a popular relational database management system used by many organizations to store, retrieve and manage data. One of the important features of Oracle is the ability to enforce constraints, which helps ensure the integrity of the data in the database. In some cases, you may need to drop a constraint, either to change its definition or to remove it entirely. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to drop a constraint in Oracle Database.

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Before we dive into the details of dropping a constraint, let’s briefly review what a constraint is and why you would want to drop one.

What is a Constraint in Oracle Database?

A constraint is a rule that restricts the data that can be stored in a table. For example, a constraint could be used to enforce the rule that the value in a column must be unique. Constraints help ensure the integrity of the data in the database, making it easier to maintain the accuracy and consistency of the data.

There are several types of constraints in Oracle Database, including:

  • NOT NULL: The value in the column cannot be null.
  • UNIQUE: The value in the column must be unique.
  • PRIMARY KEY: The value in the column must be unique and not null.
  • FOREIGN KEY: The value in the column must match a value in another table.

Why Drop a Constraint?

There are several reasons why you might want to drop a constraint in Oracle Database:

  • You want to change the definition of the constraint, such as changing the columns that are part of the constraint.
  • You no longer need the constraint and want to remove it to simplify the database structure.
  • You need to temporarily disable the constraint for testing or data migration purposes.

How to Drop The Constraint

To drop a constraint in Oracle Database, you’ll use the ALTER TABLE command. The general syntax for dropping a constraint is:

ALTER TABLE table_name
DROP CONSTRAINT constraint_name;

Where table_name is the name of the table containing the constraint and constraint_name is the name of the constraint you want to drop.

Here’s a real example of dropping a constraint in Oracle Database:

ALTER TABLE employees
DROP CONSTRAINT emp_unique_email;

In this example, the constraint emp_unique_email is being dropped from the employees table.

Dropping Constraints Used In Foreign Keys

It is important to note that you cannot drop a constrant for a foreign key without also dropping the foreign key. You can do that by adding CASCADE to your statement

The syntax for using the CASCADE option is:

ALTER TABLE table_name
DROP CONSTRAINT constraint_name

It’s important to use the CASCADE option with caution.


Dropping a constraint in Oracle Database is a straightforward process. By using the ALTER TABLE command and either specifying the constraint name or using the CASCADE option, you can easily remove a constraint from your database. Whether you’re changing the definition of the constraint or simply removing it, being able to drop constraints is an important part of managing your Oracle database.