I try to select rows in Postgis that have an empty geometry column.

This works but gives me the opposite:

SELECT * FROM foo where geom <> '';

And this fails:

SELECT * FROM foo where geom = '';

>>>ERROR: parse error - invalid geometry
>>>SQL state: XX000
>>>Hint: You must specify a valid OGC WKT geometry type such as POINT, LINESTRING or POLYGON

And this returns nothing:

SELECT * FROM foo where ST_IsEmpty(geom);

Does anyone know the correct syntax?

5 Answers 5


how about

select * from district.airport  where geom is NULL;
  • That gives me ERROR: function isnull(geometry) does not exist SQL state: 42883 Hint: No function matches the given name and argument types. You might need to add explicit type casts.
    – RickyA
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 7:44
  • you're right - that will teach me to type sql with out testing - I've updated with working code
    – Ian Turton
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 7:52
  • Your update works. Why oh why doesn't it work with an = sign but does work with an is?
    – RickyA
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 8:03
  • 1
    @RickyA Because NULL values and empty strings are different things. you can check a quick explanation here if you're interested! linuxtopia.org/online_books/database_guides/…
    – nickves
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 11:02
  • @nickves Interesting, but still weird that <> '' works. Maybe because PG treads empty char as NULL. Also this IS vs. = in sql was the real problem here.
    – RickyA
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 11:38

SELECT * FROM foo WHERE ST_IsEmpty(geom);

There has to be an empty geometry like MULTIPOLYGON EMPTY, otherwise this will return nothing like in your case.

See the documentation for more details at https://postgis.net/docs/ST_IsEmpty.html


You can try this :

select id, geom, st_isvalid(geom) from foo where st_isvalid(geom)='false' ;

You must check that your entities are valid, (if not : repaire geometry). Then the 'Iant' answer is correct :

select * from district.airport where geom is NULL;


If this works for you, but gives the opposite...

SELECT * FROM foo WHERE geom <> '';

Just put a NOT in the statment:

SELECT * FROM foo WHERE NOT geom <> ''
  • Thats a thought....
    – RickyA
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 8:05

I have thought about listing tables without geometry which should also be helpful:

select tablename from pg_tables where schemaname='yourschemaname'
    (select f_table_name from geometry_columns where f_table_schema = 'yourschemaname');

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