Changing SIS IDs

As an account administrator, when modifying an SIS ID you may encounter the error message, “The SIS is already in use”. SIS IDs must be completely unique for the item type you are modifying. If a user has the SIS ID of “S0001”, then no other user can have that ID except the existing one. 

If you are not a Canvas administrator for your school, you will want to contact one for assistance.


  • While the troubleshooting steps in this guide cover users specifically, the concepts apply for any item with an SIS ID.
  • Deleted items retain their SIS IDs until they are changed.

Confirm Active User

Shared Content

In Global Navigation, click the Admin link [1], and then go to the main account for your school [2].

In Account Navigation, click the People link [3]. In the account People page, search for the SIS ID [4]. 

If a user exists on the account, confirm that you are using the correct SIS ID. If this is a duplicate account for the correct user, you can merge the users.

No Active User in Account

Shared Content

If you search for the SIS ID that is in use and get the message “No Users Found”, the user is most likely a deleted user. 

Confirm Deleted User

Confirm Deleted User

To confirm this, you can run an account provisioning report for Users, and select the Include Deleted Objects checkbox.

To address this, you can either merge users or create a change_sis_id CSV import.

Merge Users

If you would like to merge the users, you will want to run a users.csv SIS Import with that deleted user’s information, and change their status to active.

After they are restored, you can then choose to merge those users or change the restored user’s SIS ID.


Alternatively, if you do not want to merge the user but would still like to use the SIS ID, you will want to create and import a change_sis_id.csv SIS Import. This import will remove the SIS ID from the deleted user, and replace it with one of your choosing.

The new_id field can be anything, though we typically recommend appending “_deleted” to the original SIS ID, to help you identify the deleted user if necessary, e.g.:

  • old_id: S0001
  • new_id: S0001_deleted
  • type: user

After that SIS Import runs successfully, you can then return to the new user and modify the SIS ID.