How to read a CSV file with Python 2/3

An easy way to read a CSV file from a Python program.


Easy to use with the standard library csv module.

Sample Works with both Python 2/3. Japanese is available.

from __future__ import print_function
from __future__ import unicode_literals
import argparse
import csv
import io

import six

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
parser.add_argument("--encoding", default="utf_8")
options = parser.parse_args()

csv_reader = csv.reader(, "r", encoding=options.encoding),

print("--- header ---\n{}\n".format(
print("--- data ---")
for row in csv_reader:

Example of operation: ascii


"Country or Area","Year","Area","Sex","Record Type","Reliability","Source Year","Value","Value Footnotes"
"Afghanistan","2014","Total","Both Sexes","Estimate - de facto","Final figure, incomplete/questionable reliability","2015","26556754","1"
"Afghanistan","2014","Total","Male","Estimate - de facto","Final figure, incomplete/questionable reliability","2015","13585933","1"
"Afghanistan","2014","Total","Female","Estimate - de facto","Final figure, incomplete/questionable reliability","2015","12970821","1"
$ ./ sample_ascii.csv
--- header ---
['Country or Area', 'Year', 'Area', 'Sex', 'Record Type', 'Reliability', 'Source Year', 'Value', 'Value Footnotes']

--- data ---
['Afghanistan', '2014', 'Total', 'Both Sexes', 'Estimate - de facto', 'Final figure, incomplete/questionable reliability', '2015', '26556754', '1']
['Afghanistan', '2014', 'Total', 'Male', 'Estimate - de facto', 'Final figure, incomplete/questionable reliability', '2015', '13585933', '1']
['Afghanistan', '2014', 'Total', 'Female', 'Estimate - de facto', 'Final figure, incomplete/questionable reliability', '2015', '12970821', '1']

Example of operation: UTF-8


12971,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,PDF,English,1
12971,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,HTML,Japanese,59
12971,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,PDF,Japanese,4
12972,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,HTML,Japanese,3
12972,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,PDF,Japanese,6
12973,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,PDF,Japanese,6
12974,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Yearly,PDF,Japanese,4
12975,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Other (free description),PDF,Japanese,7
12976,2015,Consumer Affairs Agency,Administrative and financial,Other (free description),PDF,Japanese,4
$ ./ sample_utf8.csv
--- header ---
['dataset_id', 'year', 'publisher', 'group_title', 'frequency_of_update', 'data_format', 'language', 'resource_count']

--- data ---
['12971', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'PDF', 'English', '1']
['12971', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'HTML', 'Japanese', '59']
['12971', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'PDF', 'Japanese', '4']
['12972', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'HTML', 'Japanese', '3']
['12972', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'PDF', 'Japanese', '6']
['12973', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'PDF', 'Japanese', '6']
['12974', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Yearly', 'PDF', 'Japanese', '4']
['12975', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Other (free description)', 'PDF', 'Japanese', '7']
['12976', '2015', 'Consumer Affairs Agency', 'Administrative and financial', 'Other (free description)', 'PDF', 'Japanese', '4']


encoding - Python 2 and 3 csv reader - Stack Overflow

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