Importing a .dbf (dBase) file into Power BI

How can I import data from a .dbf (dBase) file into Power BI?

Today’s Power BI Mailbag Question comes from a friend who often works with geospatial data and, as a result, ends up with several different shapefile formats, including .dbf (dBase) database table files. There are several blog articles around shapefile mapping options in Power BI, but this question of accessing the .dbf file directly from Power BI was something I hadn’t been asked before.

Note: Power BI does not have native .dbf file support at the time of publishing this article, but the idea has been proposed at if you would like to vote for it. 

When I began searching for a solution, I found several threads in the .NET provider MSDN forum showing how to leverage the Access OLEDB provider (Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0) to import data from a .dbf file into SQL Server. With this, we can use a similar solution in Power BI. 

Data Source (Rainfall in Ethiopia):
For this example, I’m using a
.dbf file containing the rain statistics in towns in Ethiopia

In Power BI Desktop, click on Get Data -> Blank Query

Click on the Advanced Editor and replace the default text with the following text (replacing with your path and dBase file name):

    Source = OleDb.DataSource("Provider=Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0;Data Source=C:\Blog\DBF\;extended properties=dBASE IV", [Query="select * from [rain.dbf]"])


Power BI Advanced Query Editor


This will prompt you to edit the credentials. Click "Edit Permissions" to continue.


Edit Credentials Dialog in Power BI


Another prompt appears asking to approve of running the native query against this data source. Since the OLEDB provider syntax we provided contains the query string, you need to approve that this can be executed against the .dbf file. Click Run to continue.


Native Database Query dialog in Power BI


You may get one additional dialog box requesting proper credentials as I did with some other data sources I used in testing this solution. I selected the “Default or Custom” option with no value supplied in the connection string property dialog. 


Default or custom credentials dialog in Power BI


With this, the data will be loaded into Power BI and you can continue with your report creation.


dbf file loaded in Power BI


Rain fall in Ethiopia in Power BI 


Special thanks to Aaron Bator for constantly pushing the edges of Power BI and bringing new and innovative ideas and questions. Keep them coming!

Sam Lester (MSFT)

Comments (5)

  1. Yoshihiro Kawabata says:

    Thanks, dBase support.
    and I hope to support dBase as Power BI’s data source for more easy operation.

  2. Priscilla says:

    Hi, I have followed your post but am having issues connecting to my dbf file. Basically beacuse it’s giving me a “DataSource.Error: OLE DB: External table is not in the expected format” It seems to be happening because the fpt file is a seperate file.

    How can i link them please?

    1. Hi Priscilla, can you point me to example files where I can try this out?

      1. Priscilla says:

        Hi Samuel,

        Hmm… that’s a bit tricky… can’t find any sample files.
        Can i send you the files through a private message ?

        1. Yes, send me an email at samles @ microsoft . com.

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