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Applies To: SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016 Preview

Topic Status: Some information in this topic is preview and subject to change in future releases. Preview information describes new features or changes to existing features in Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview 2 (CTP2).

Marks the starting point of an explicit, local transaction. BEGIN TRANSACTION increments @@TRANCOUNT by 1.

Applies to: SQL Server (SQL Server 2008 through current version), Azure SQL Database.

Topic link icon Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions

    [ { transaction_name | @tran_name_variable }
      [ WITH MARK [ 'description' ] ]
[ ; ]


Is the name assigned to the transaction. transaction_name must conform to the rules for identifiers, but identifiers longer than 32 characters are not allowed. Use transaction names only on the outermost pair of nested BEGIN...COMMIT or BEGIN...ROLLBACK statements. transaction_name is always case sensitive, even when the instance of SQL Server is not case sensitive.


Is the name of a user-defined variable containing a valid transaction name. The variable must be declared with a char, varchar, nchar, or nvarchar data type. If more than 32 characters are passed to the variable, only the first 32 characters will be used; the remaining characters will be truncated.

WITH MARK [ 'description' ]

Specifies that the transaction is marked in the log. description is a string that describes the mark. A description longer than 128 characters is truncated to 128 characters before being stored in the msdb.dbo.logmarkhistory table.

If WITH MARK is used, a transaction name must be specified. WITH MARK allows for restoring a transaction log to a named mark.

BEGIN TRANSACTION represents a point at which the data referenced by a connection is logically and physically consistent. If errors are encountered, all data modifications made after the BEGIN TRANSACTION can be rolled back to return the data to this known state of consistency. Each transaction lasts until either it completes without errors and COMMIT TRANSACTION is issued to make the modifications a permanent part of the database, or errors are encountered and all modifications are erased with a ROLLBACK TRANSACTION statement.

BEGIN TRANSACTION starts a local transaction for the connection issuing the statement. Depending on the current transaction isolation level settings, many resources acquired to support the Transact-SQL statements issued by the connection are locked by the transaction until it is completed with either a COMMIT TRANSACTION or ROLLBACK TRANSACTION statement. Transactions left outstanding for long periods of time can prevent other users from accessing these locked resources, and also can prevent log truncation.

Although BEGIN TRANSACTION starts a local transaction, it is not recorded in the transaction log until the application subsequently performs an action that must be recorded in the log, such as executing an INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE statement. An application can perform actions such as acquiring locks to protect the transaction isolation level of SELECT statements, but nothing is recorded in the log until the application performs a modification action.

Naming multiple transactions in a series of nested transactions with a transaction name has little effect on the transaction. Only the first (outermost) transaction name is registered with the system. A rollback to any other name (other than a valid savepoint name) generates an error. None of the statements executed before the rollback is, in fact, rolled back at the time this error occurs. The statements are rolled back only when the outer transaction is rolled back.

The local transaction started by the BEGIN TRANSACTION statement is escalated to a distributed transaction if the following actions are performed before the statement is committed or rolled back:

  • An INSERT, DELETE, or UPDATE statement that references a remote table on a linked server is executed. The INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE statement fails if the OLE DB provider used to access the linked server does not support the ITransactionJoin interface.

  • A call is made to a remote stored procedure when the REMOTE_PROC_TRANSACTIONS option is set to ON.

The local copy of SQL Server becomes the transaction controller and uses Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MS DTC) to manage the distributed transaction.

A transaction can be explicitly executed as a distributed transaction by using BEGIN DISTRIBUTED TRANSACTION. For more information, see BEGIN DISTRIBUTED TRANSACTION (Transact-SQL).

When SET IMPLICIT_TRANSACTIONS is set to ON, a BEGIN TRANSACTION statement creates two nested transactions. For more information see, SET IMPLICIT_TRANSACTIONS (Transact-SQL)

Marked Transactions

The WITH MARK option causes the transaction name to be placed in the transaction log. When restoring a database to an earlier state, the marked transaction can be used in place of a date and time. For more information, see Use Marked Transactions to Recover Related Databases Consistently (Full Recovery Model) and RESTORE (Transact-SQL).

Additionally, transaction log marks are necessary if you need to recover a set of related databases to a logically consistent state. Marks can be placed in the transaction logs of the related databases by a distributed transaction. Recovering the set of related databases to these marks results in a set of databases that are transactionally consistent. Placement of marks in related databases requires special procedures.

The mark is placed in the transaction log only if the database is updated by the marked transaction. Transactions that do not modify data are not marked.

BEGIN TRAN new_name WITH MARK can be nested within an already existing transaction that is not marked. Upon doing so, new_name becomes the mark name for the transaction, despite the name that the transaction may already have been given. In the following example, M2 is the name of the mark.

UPDATE table1 ...;
UPDATE table2 ...;
SELECT * from table1;
UPDATE table3 ...;

When nesting transactions, trying to mark a transaction that is already marked results in a warning (not error) message:


"UPDATE table1 ...;"


"Server: Msg 3920, Level 16, State 1, Line 3"

"WITH MARK option only applies to the first BEGIN TRAN WITH MARK."

"The option is ignored."

Requires membership in the public role.

A. Naming a transaction

The following example shows how to name a transaction.

SELECT @TranName = 'MyTransaction';

USE AdventureWorks2012;
DELETE FROM AdventureWorks2012.HumanResources.JobCandidate
    WHERE JobCandidateID = 13;


B. Marking a transaction

The following example shows how to mark a transaction. The transaction CandidateDelete is marked.

    WITH MARK N'Deleting a Job Candidate';
USE AdventureWorks2012;
DELETE FROM AdventureWorks2012.HumanResources.JobCandidate
    WHERE JobCandidateID = 13;
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