Custom keys

The custom key on a record is a cross reference to an external system ID, whereas a Veeva ID uniquely identifies a record within Network. Custom keys are loaded from a data source, while Veeva IDs are generated automatically.

Custom keys are typically comprised of the following:

  • Source system name; for example, SAP.

  • Item value that can distinguish it from other keys; for example, HCP.
  • External ID.

Together, these values make up a unique custom key that will be used in match, merge, and other processes:


Where to find them

You can find custom keys in the following locations:

  • Referenced from the header on the Profile page, under Source Keys.
  • Listed in the External Identifiers section of the profile page.
  • Visible in the Data Lineage page for a record, with their corresponding entities and sources.

Related processes

The following processes use custom keys:

Merge and Unmerge

During a merge or unmerge, custom keys are added to winning records and marked inactive for losing records. New Veeva IDs are created during this process; they do not move with each record.

Depending on system configuration, unmerge can take place without source keys being retained; for example, from CRM systems that don't otherwise support unmerge. In this instance, new records are created from the unmerge without custom keys or any references to them; any link to the original record is lost.

Sub-object match

Duplicate sub-objects are matched and merged using key matching (custom keys are the same) and field matching (using duplicate detection rules). Note that parent HCO sub-objects are only matched using field matching or duplicate detection rules.

DCR import

Custom keys (and master keys) must be provided for DCR imports.

Bulk merge

Bulk merge through a source subscription requires surviving custom keys or the Veeva ID in the source file feed.

Target subscriptions

Subscriptions can be filtered to export records using the custom key source. Only active and inactive custom keys are exported; custom keys that are source deactivated are not.

Source inactivation detection

For records that are no longer managed by a source and are source deactivated by Network, the following apply:

  • custom keys are marked as source deactivated (SD)
  • matching on the custom key no longer occurs
  • search on the custom key is still supported
  • target subscriptions will not export the custom keys

Note: In most cases, inactive custom keys behave the same was as those that have been source deactivated. The differentiation in status (SD or I) is informational only. For target subscriptions though, inactive custom keys can be exported; source deactivated custom keys cannot be exported.

Supported characters

Custom keys support ASCII printable characters (character code 32-127 from the ISO Latin-1 ASCII table); for example, 0-9, A-Z, a-z, and several punctuation marks and symbols.

Custom keys do not support extended ASCII character codes; for example, ñ, ä, and ù.

For more information, see

Configure your source system so it does not use names that have accented characters. Custom key values that contain extended ASCII characters will result in errors.