Generating Empty GUIDs

In SQL Server, a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) is a 16-byte binary data type that is commonly used to uniquely identify records in a database. The UNIQUEIDENTIFIER data type in SQL Server is equivalent to a GUID, and there are occasions where you might need to generate an empty GUID, which is a GUID with all bits set to zero. This can be particularly useful for initializing variables or columns, or when you need a default GUID value. SQL Server provides a couple of straightforward methods to generate an empty GUID, also known as a null GUID, which is represented as 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000.

Method 1: Using BINARY Casting

One way to generate an empty GUID in SQL Server is by first casting the integer 0 to a binary value, and then casting that binary value to a UNIQUEIDENTIFIER. Here’s how it’s done:


In this method, the integer 0 is first converted into a binary representation. Since the binary representation does not fill the entire 16 bytes required by a GUID, SQL Server automatically pads the remaining bytes with zeros.The final cast to UNIQUEIDENTIFIER results in an empty GUID.

Method 2: Using Hexadecimal Representation

Another approach to generate an empty GUID is by directly casting a hexadecimal value that represents zero to a UNIQUEIDENTIFIER. This method is more concise and looks like this:


Here, 0x0 represents a hexadecimal constant for zero. When this is cast to a UNIQUEIDENTIFIER, SQL Server interprets this as an instruction to generate a GUID consisting entirely of zeros, resulting in an empty GUID.

Method 3: Using the NEWID() Function with Replacement

Although not as straightforward or efficient for simply generating an empty GUID, you could technically use the NEWID() function to generate a new GUID and then replace it with an empty GUID using string manipulation functions. This method is more of a curiosity and is not recommended for practical use due to its unnecessary complexity and performance implications:

SELECT REPLACE(CAST(NEWID() AS VARCHAR(36)), CAST(NEWID() AS VARCHAR(36)), '00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000')

This essentially generates a new GUID and then replaces it with the string representation of an empty GUID. Again, this is not a practical approach but is mentioned here for completeness.

Method 4: Direct Assignment in Variables or Table Defaults

Another straightforward method, especially when working with variables or setting default values for table columns, is to directly assign the empty GUID value:


DECLARE @EmptyGUID UNIQUEIDENTIFIER = '00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000'

Table Defaults:

    ID UNIQUEIDENTIFIER DEFAULT '00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000' NOT NULL,
    Name NVARCHAR(50)


While the direct casting from a zero binary or hexadecimal value represents the most straightforward and efficient method to generate an empty GUID in SQL Server, understanding the various ways to accomplish this task provides flexibility for SQL developers. The method of choice might depend on the specific scenario, such as initializing variables, setting default values in table definitions, or more complex logic that might, for some reason, necessitate a different approach.

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