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Data Import in QuickBooks Online Standard Payroll

Data Importer in QuickBooks Online Standard Payroll enables customers to import an FPS file in an XML format into QuickBooks Online Standard Payroll.

The import can be from QuickBooks Desktop Payroll or any other application where the latest FPS data is available to export, download or copy and create your own .XML file.


Note: You can only import one file and it must not contain multiple payroll schedules. For example, the file needs to contain employees with weekly or monthly schedules, but not both. If you're running both weekly and monthly payroll, select the FPS file with the highest number of employees. You can the missing employees later.

When moving from QuickBooks Desktop, you can either manually complete the employee records that get exported with your bookkeeping data, or you can delete/make those employees inactive and re-import them using the method below. The method below may save time for larger payrolls of 20+ employees as more employee data is transferred.

  1. In QuickBooks Online, delete/make inactive any employees already imported with your bookkeeping data if you are not going to manually update them.
  2. Next, in Desktop, go to Employees, then select Payroll Centre.
  3. Click on Payroll tab, then File Forms.
  4. Within the Filing History section, click on the Details option of your latest FPS filing, this will allow you to view the FPS filing. Ensure you click on Details and open the last FPS report in Quickbooks as this generates the temporary FPS file outside QuickBooks that we need. If you have multiple payroll schedules and submit multiple FPS reports each month, and have not already done so, please see the note at the top of this article for multiple payrolls.
  5. Next, in the Windows search bar located on the left-hand side of your taskbar, next to the Windows button type C:\Users\<insert username>\AppData\Local\Temp, then search/locate a file called tempFpsXml. You may need to sort on 'Date Modified' in the temporary folder.
  6. Right-click to copy and then save to your desktop or another safe but accessible folder.


  1. Log in to your previous payroll software
  2. Export a Full Payment Submission (FPS) with the highest number of employees. This needs to be in XML format. Note: It's important to ensure you select the most recent FPS with the most amount of employees to ensure that you're able to pick up where you left off with no or limited manual entry
  3. Save it somewhere safe, such as your Desktop or My Documents on your computer

Import your .xml FPS file into Standard Payroll Online

When you have your FPS file ready, please watch the video below and use the following instructions to import into Standard Payroll.

  1. Log in to QuickBooks Online Standard Payroll.
  2. Go to Employees or Payroll menu, then select Let's go.
  3. When prompted, select Yes, import my data.
  4. On the next page, select your previous payroll software, then select Next.
  5. Select on Upload file on the next page, then select your exported XML file.
  6. On the last page, select Next to start the import. If we're unable to import your file, you'll see a message explaining what action you need to take.

Note: During the move from desktop to QuickBooks Online,  the old desktop payroll liability and expense accounts should be renamed, e.g Payroll Expenses could be named Payroll Expenses (Desktop) and Payroll Liabilities could be named Payroll Liabilities (Desktop). This ensures QuickBooks Online can create new payroll expense and liability accounts when running your first payroll.

The old desktop payroll accounts can also be renamed in QuickBooks Online after migrating, if you have not done so already, please do this now.

Finally, when you run your first payroll, you will be asked to select a ‘Net Pay’ account. This is the bank account to which QuickBooks online Standard payroll will post the net wage expense for each individual employee. Please set up your bank account before creating your first payroll.

Please find below a video, from signing into QuickBooks Online for the first time, importing employee data and post-import tasks including completing employee data, Tax & Pension information (see Workplace Pensions in QuickBooks Online if you need to set up a pension your provider).

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