Sequelize.js: How to Rename a Column

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


Sequelize is a powerful ORM for Node.js applications that allows developers to handle various database tasks with ease. Among its many capabilities, Sequelize enables the modification of existing database schemas, including the renaming of columns. This tutorial will guide you through the steps of renaming a column in Sequelize, from basic usage to more advanced scenarios. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, understanding how to rename columns is a useful skill for maintaining and updating your database schema as your application evolves.


  • Basic knowledge of JavaScript and Node.js.
  • Understanding of SQL and database schema.
  • Node.js installed on your system.
  • A working Sequelize setup with an initialized project.

Basic Column Renaming

To rename a column in Sequelize, you start with a migration. Migrations are a way to make database schema changes over time in a consistent and easy-to-follow manner.

Create a new migration file using the Sequelize CLI:

sequelize migration:create --name rename-column

Edit the generated migration file to include the renameColumn method:

module.exports = {
  up: async (queryInterface, Sequelize) => {
    await queryInterface.renameColumn('Users', 'oldColumnName', 'newColumnName');
  down: async (queryInterface, Sequelize) => {
    await queryInterface.renameColumn('Users', 'newColumnName', 'oldColumnName');

After configuring the migration, run it using the Sequelize CLI:

sequelize db:migrate

This will apply the column name change to the database.

Handling References and Constraints

Renaming columns that are referenced by other tables’ foreign keys or have certain constraints may require additional steps. You may need to drop and recreate constraints or adjust foreign key references. Here is an advanced migration example that includes these additional steps:

module.exports = {
  up: async (queryInterface, Sequelize) => {
    // Rename column
    await queryInterface.renameColumn('Users', 'oldColumnName', 'newColumnName');
    // If necessary, code to drop and recreate constraints
  down: async (queryInterface, Sequelize) => {
    // Revert column rename
    await queryInterface.renameColumn('Users', 'newColumnName', 'oldColumnName');
    // If necessary, code to revert constraints changes

Ensure that you appropriately manage constraints to maintain the database’s integrity.

Updating Model Definitions

After migrating your database, your model definitions should reflect the changes. Edit your models to use the new column name:

const User = sequelize.define('User', {
  newColumnName: {
    type: Sequelize.STRING
    // other column options
  // other columns

Update any associated code in your application to accommodate the new column name to ensure consistency throughout your application.

Synchronizing with Sequelize.sync()

If you’re using Sequelize’s sync() method, remember to synchronize your models:

User.sync({ alter: true });

This tells Sequelize to check the current state of the model against the database and perform the necessary changes, including renaming columns.

Using Raw SQL for Complex Renaming

In some complex scenarios, you may need to bypass Sequelize’s abstractions and execute raw SQL queries for more control over the renaming process. You can use Sequelize’s queryInterface to execute a raw SQL query:

await queryInterface.sequelize.query('ALTER TABLE "Users" RENAME COLUMN "oldColumnName" TO "newColumnName";');

This approach is particularly useful when dealing with complex schema changes that might not be straightforwardly handled through Sequelize’s API.


Renaming a column in Sequelize involves creating and running migrations, updating model definitions, and, in some cases, handling database constraints and references. While Sequelize simplifies these operations with its high-level API, there are times when executing raw SQL might be necessary. It’s important to ensure that these changes are reflected across your entire application, including in your model definitions and any code that interacts with the affected columns. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can effectively rename columns in your database using Sequelize, thereby keeping your database schema in sync with the evolving needs of your application. Remember, database migrations are powerful tools, so use them wisely to maintain the integrity and consistency of your data.