How to add constraints to a column in Sequelize

Updated: December 29, 2023 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment

In this tutorial, we delve into the fundamentals and intricacies of adding constraints to database columns using the Sequelize ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) within a Node.js application. Constraints are a key aspect of relational databases, ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the data within your application.

Before proceeding, it is assumed that the reader has basic understanding of Node.js, databases, and Sequelize. Let’s begin by looking at the role of constraints and how Sequelize simplifies the process.

Basic Constraints

Let’s start with the simplest form of constraints, which are commonly used when defining or altering table schemas. A basic constraint can be something as straightforward as making a column not nullable.

const User = sequelize.define('user', {
  email: {
    type: Sequelize.STRING,
    allowNull: false

In the example provided, we define a User model and ensure that each user must have an email address by setting allowNull: false on the email column.

Unique Constraints

Taking constraints further, Sequelize allows us to specify unique constraints to prevent duplicate values within a column.

const User = sequelize.define('user', {
  username: {
    type: Sequelize.STRING,
    unique: true

This snippet ensures that the username is unique for every user in the database.

To be continued, here the document would expand on primary keys, composite unique constraints, custom indexes, foreign key constraints, check constraints, and more advanced topics like constraint management with migrations and handling constraint errors.

Adding Foreign Key Constraints

One of the more complex types of constraints is the foreign key constraint, which links data across tables. Sequelize allows such constraints to be described as associations or directly within the model definition.

const User = sequelize.define('user', { /* ... */ });
const Project = sequelize.define('project', {
  userId: {
    type: Sequelize.INTEGER,
    references: {
      model: User,
      key: 'id'
    onDelete: 'CASCADE',
    onUpdate: 'CASCADE'

This code snippet defines a Project model with a foreign key pointing back to the User model. If a user is deleted, any associated projects will also be removed thanks to the onDelete option.

Following this section, the document would then offer further examples on cascading deletes or updates, how to set up complex foreign key relationships, and the importance of understanding how constraints affect database performance and behavior.

Check Constraints

Sequelize also supports check constraints to ensure that data satisfies specific conditions before being inserted or updated in the database.

const User = sequelize.define('user', {
  age: {
    type: Sequelize.INTEGER,
    allowNull: false,
    check: {
      args: [18],
      msg: 'Must be at least 18 years old.'

The check constraint here ensures that no users below 18 years are created in our system.


Constraints are essential for maintaining data integrity. Sequelize abstracts much of the complexity involved in setting up these constraints, allowing developers to define them in a straightforward and readable manner. For a scalable, maintainable application, understanding and properly utilizing these constraints within your ORM is crucial. Remember to always test constraints systematically using unit and integration tests to ensure they work as expected.

By following the guidelines provided in this tutorial, you now have a deeper understanding of adding constraints in Sequelize and can wield these powerful tools to enhance the robustness of your applications. Happy coding!