Parse a CSV File in PHP

Ralfh Bryan Perez Jan 03, 2023
Parse a CSV File in PHP

A CSV is one type of file. It means Comma Separated Values. It’s commonly used in different software such as Excel. This allows data to be saved in a tabular format and with a .csv extension.

To parse a CSV file in PHP, it can be done using the combination of fopen(), fgetcsv() and fclose() functions that are built-in in PHP.


dog, cat, rat, fish
horse, cow, carabao
bird, rabbit, chicken
$ctr = 1;
if (($file = fopen("sampleFile.csv", "r")) !== FALSE) {
  while (($record = fgetcsv($handle, 1000, ",")) !== FALSE) {
    $total = count($record);
    echo "<p> $total fields in line $row: <br /></p>\n";
    for ($x = 0; $x < $ctr; $x++) {
        echo $record[$x] . "<br />\n";
4 fields in line 1:

3 fields in line 2:

3 fields in line 3:


The example above parses the content of sampleFile.csv using these functions:

fopen(Filename, Mode, Include_path, context)

This function accepts a URL or file, binds a named resource that is specified by filename to a stream.


  • Filename (required) - This parameter specifies the file or URL to open
  • Mode (required) - This represents the type of access you require to the file.
  • Include_path (optional) - Setting this parameter to 1 will search for the file in the include_path.
  • context (optional) - This specifies the content of the file handle. It’s a set of options that can be updated on the behavior of the stream.
fgetcsv(File, Length, Separator, Enclosure, Escape)

This function is responsible for parsing a line from an opened CSV file.


  • File (required) - This parameter specifies the open file to return and parse a line from.
  • Length (optional on PHP 5 and below but required to PHP 5.1 and above) - This parameter is the maximum length of the line. This must be greater than the longest line in the file. If this parameter is not present, then the length is not limited, which makes it slower to parse.
  • Separator (optional) - This parameter is the field separator, and the default value is a comma - ,.
  • Enclosure (optional) - This parameter is the field enclosure, and the default value is ".
  • Escape (optional) - This parameter is the escape character, and the default is \\.


This function closes an open file pointer.


  • File (required) - This specifies what file to close.
The file pointer must be valid, and must point to a file successfully opened by fopen().

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