Returning Only Numeric Data

db2_numericI frequently get e-mail from folks asking about ways to accomplish things in DB2 and SQL. A recent question I got went something like this:

Is there any option to check whether data “IS NUMERIC” in a DB2 table?

We want to examine CHAR data but return only those where the entire data consists only of numbers. For example, can we write a query like this?

The VAR variable is defined as a CHAR(5) column and it will contain data like below.


Out of the above 5 records we would want only the 3rd and 4th records to be returned. We tried CAST (VAR as integer), but any other option is there for fetching like above. Please explain

Well, if you try to cast non-numeric data to numeric you will get an error. But you can test the data beforehand – digit by digit – using the SUBSTR function. You’d have to break the VAR column down using SUBSTR to get each individual character and test whether that character is between 0 and 9 – then only if all characters are between 0 and 9 would the result be returned.

Here is what the SQL might look like:

This will return only those rows where every digit in the VAR column is a number between zero and nine. Of course, there are alternate queries that can also work, such as:

Or even:

Choose one that works the best for you and away you go!

This post was originally posted on Craig Mullins’ blog at

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Craig Mullins
Consultant at Mullins Consulting, Inc
Craig S. Mullins is working with Datavail and its DB2 practice to expand offerings. He is president and principal consultant at Mullins Consulting, Inc. and the publisher of The Database Site. Mullins has 30 years of experience in all facets of database management and is the author of two books: “DB2 Developer’s Guide” currently in its 6th edition and “Database Administration: The Complete Guide to DBA Practices and Procedures,” the industry’s only guide to heterogeneous DBA.

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