How do I copy my chart of accounts across to Xero?

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Coping charts of accounts across to Xero
Cloud Accounting
Partner & Consultant
February 10, 2020
minute read

A step-by-step guide to transferring this important data to your Xero account

Xero is a powerful platform for small and medium-sized business accounting, and can save your business hours of work each month.

And as a Xero Gold Partner, we recommend making the switch to this platform.

Transferring your information isn’t hard — it just takes some patience, and accuracy.

Thinking about upgrading your accounting software? Contact Liston Newton Advisory today for a free 90-minute consultation to discuss how migrating your accounting to Xero will streamline your business.

A brief overview of Xero

Xero landed in Australia in 2008, and was the first online cloud-based accounting software platform available for small and medium-sized businesses. Xero revolutionised the world of accounting for small businesses, enabling the same set of accounts to be worked on regardless of operating system or location.

This allowed business owners to access their accounting wherever they went, on any device.

Xero has continued to grow in capability, and is now the preferred software platform of choice for accountants and businesses all across Australia. With over 500 software integrations available, Xero is designed to connect with other software packages to truly streamline your business accounting.

Before you begin

Before you start the process of converting your chart of accounts to Xero, it’s important to ensure that you’ve gone through your list and archived any unused or obsolete accounts. You can do this by exporting your list to Excel in a CSV file format. Then, simply go through the list manually and delete all unused accounts.

Another thing to note is that any balances in your account chart will be imported into Xero too. So if you don’t want to replace any balances already in Xero leave the balance column in your important file blank.

Once this is complete you should review the codes and account types of your current accounts, ensuring they’re all correct. Then you can save the file, ready for conversion.

Understanding Xero file formats

Like any software platform, Xero has its own preferred set of file formats to use when important data. The preferred files types are:

  • OFX
  • QIF
  • CSV

The most common file type you’ll use when importing your own customised set of chart of accounts or client contacts into Xero is the Microsoft Excel CSV file. You can convert this data into Xero’s preferred templates within the system itself.

Preparing your data

preparing your data for Xero

When getting you data ready for importing into Xero, it’s critical that the data is allocated correctly. There are four mandatory main fields of data that need to be filled out  in order for the import to work property.

Account Code

Create a unique account code up to 10 characters in length. The Account Code ensures a specific code for each individual account.

Account Type

The Account Type is attached to the Account Code, and include income, expense, asset, liability, or equity accounts. Xero has specified account types you must use.

Account Name

This is a description of the account, and it must be unique to avoid confusion with other accounts. Create a unique account name up to 150 characters in length.

Account Tax Code

Add the correct GST default code for each account to ensure that when transactions occur the GST is automatically calculated. If you don’t select a tax code, Xero imports the account with the rate ‘No GST’.

Formatting and saving data

It’s important that your data is formatted correctly.

  • Every column in your data must have a column header.
  • Your file must have 700 or fewer rows. If you’ve got more accounts than this you can add them directly to your new chart of accounts following your import.
  • If there are any non-English characters in your accounts, save the file as a Microsoft Excel text document. This ensures that these characters don’t get removed from the file. You can then import them into Xero using its CSV import process.

Once you’ve collated all your data, and all your items within the import file are correct, then save the file in one of the three file formats mentioned above.

Once you’ve saved into this format it’s time to begin transferring over your chart of accounts.

Importing your chart of accounts

You can import your chart of accounts using the following steps:

  1. Log in to your Xero file.
  2. Click the 'Accounting' menu at the top of the page, then click 'Chart of accounts'.
  3. If you’ve already converted your CSV file into one of Xero’s templates, select Xero as the system you're importing from.
  4. Does your file include balances? If it does, select your conversion date.
  5. Click the Browse button to find the saved chart of accounts file on your computer.
  6. Click 'Import'.
  7. To make sure there aren’t any errors in the import, review the chart of accounts file import. Errors typically mean you must revise the file itself, and start the import again.
  8. Click 'Confirm'.
  9. If there are any bank accounts listed in your import file, choose the bank account type (Credit Card, Bank, or PayPal) and add the corresponding bank account number.
  10. Click 'Save'.

And that’s it — you’ve successfully imported your chart of accounts to Xero.

The final word

Transferring your chart of accounts to Xero isn’t hard, it just requires some patience.

  1. Ensure all your data is accurate and up-to-date. Delete any obsolete accounts.
  2. Save your data in a Microsoft Excel CSV file. Then, convert this to a Xero template.
  3. Check and double-check to ensure your data is allocated correctly, and all the necessary fields are filled out.

The biggest piece of advice we can give is ensuring all your data is correct. If so, it’s time to import your information and start making the most of Xero for your business.

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