Difference between CHAR and VARCHAR2 In Oracle

Oracle database contains different types of Character data types.  Among those data types, CHAR and VARCHAR2 are widely utilized compared to other types such as VARCHAR, CLOB etc. in PL/SQL programming. Due to this it becomes evident to understand the difference between CHAR and VARCHAR2. Additionally, this is the most frequently asked interview question of Oracle database.

Difference between CHAR and VARCHAR2



VARCHAR2 has maximum length of 32767 bytesCHAR has maximum length of 2000 bytes
Space is not padded to the values for unused lengthA space is padded to the right if length of variable is more than value passed to the variable
VARCHAR2 is used mainly for variable length character stringCHAR is generally used for fixed length character string, for example, Pin code
It is mandatory to specify length in VARCHAR2By default the length of CHAR is 1 if it is not specified

Difference between CHAR and VARCHAR2 with example

Let us declare two variables with same string and different data types,

For example,

  lv_char      CHAR(8) := 'Hello';
  lv_varchar2  VARCHAR2(8) := 'Hello';
  len_char     NUMBER(2);
  len_varchar2 NUMBER(2);
  len_char     := LENGTH(lv_char);
  len_varchar2 := LENGTH(lv_varchar2);
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Length of CHAR -> ' || len_char);
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Length of VARCHAR2 -> ' || len_varchar2);


Length of CHAR -> 8
Length of VARCHAR2 -> 5

Which data type is better?

It is a long going myth among some programmers that performance of CHAR is better than VARCHAR2. There is no impact on performance if you have used VARCHAR2 for fixed length character string.

I personally would recommend using VARCHAR2 instead of CHAR because it will help you save waste of unnecessary disk space in case you are incorrect about fixed length character string.

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