Function calls in Google Standard SQL

When you call a function, specific rules may apply. You can also add the SAFE. prefix, which prevents functions from generating some types of errors. To learn more, see the next sections.

Function call rules

The following rules apply to all functions unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the function description:

  • For functions that accept numeric types, if one operand is a floating point operand and the other operand is another numeric type, both operands are converted to FLOAT64 before the function is evaluated.
  • If an operand is NULL, the result is NULL, with the exception of the IS operator.
  • For functions that are time zone sensitive (as indicated in the function description), the default time zone, America/Los_Angeles, is used if a time zone is not specified.

SAFE. prefix




If you begin a scalar function with the SAFE. prefix, it will return NULL instead of an error. The SAFE. prefix only prevents errors from the prefixed function itself: it does not prevent errors that occur while evaluating argument expressions. The SAFE. prefix only prevents errors that occur because of the value of the function inputs, such as "value out of range" errors; other errors, such as internal or system errors, may still occur. If the function does not return an error, SAFE. has no effect on the output.

Operators, such as + and =, do not support the SAFE. prefix. To prevent errors from a division operation, use SAFE_DIVIDE. Some operators, such as IN, ARRAY, and UNNEST, resemble functions, but do not support the SAFE. prefix. The CAST and EXTRACT functions also do not support the SAFE. prefix. To prevent errors from casting, use SAFE_CAST.


In the following example, the first use of the SUBSTR function would normally return an error, because the function does not support length arguments with negative values. However, the SAFE. prefix causes the function to return NULL instead. The second use of the SUBSTR function provides the expected output: the SAFE. prefix has no effect.

SELECT SAFE.SUBSTR('foo', 0, -2) AS safe_output UNION ALL
SELECT SAFE.SUBSTR('bar', 0, 2) AS safe_output;

| safe_output |
| NULL        |
| ba          |