How to parse a csv file in php when the delimiter is unknown

There are plenty of MS Excel alternatives out there – OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Kingsoft, Google Spreadsheets and many more. The problem is that CSV files created by different softwares may vary (, or ; to name a few options). If you need to process CSV files exported from different systems and software and handle the delimiter automatically, you can benefit from using SplFileObject::getCsvControl method.

Example usage:

<?php $csvFileObject = new SplFileObject($_FILES["csv"]["tmp_name"]); list($delimiter, $enclosure) = $csvFileObject->getCsvControl();

$lines = fopen($_FILES["csv"]["tmp_name"], 'r');
if($lines) {
while (($line = fgetcsv($lines, 4096, $delimiter, $enclosure)) !== false) {
//do something


One thought on “How to parse a csv file in php when the delimiter is unknown

  1. Peter

    this is not true… The getCsvControl() method doesn\’t guess the control parameters rather returns the values set byt the setCsvControl() method, so it returns always the same parameters regardless of the actual .csv file content.


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