Convert UTF-8 with BOM to UTF-8 with no BOM in Python


Two questions here. I have a set of files which are usually UTF-8 with BOM. I’d like to convert them (ideally in place) to UTF-8 with no BOM. It seems like codecs.StreamRecoder(stream, encode, decode, Reader, Writer, errors) would handle this. But I don’t really see any good examples on usage. Would this be the best way to handle this?

source files:
Tue Jan 17$ file brh-m-157.json 
brh-m-157.json: UTF-8 Unicode (with BOM) text

Also, it would be ideal if we could handle different input encoding wihtout explicitly knowing (seen ASCII and UTF-16). It seems like this should all be feasible. Is there a solution that can take any known Python encoding and output as UTF-8 without BOM?

edit 1 proposed sol’n from below (thanks!)

fp = open('brh-m-157.json','rw')
s =
u = s.decode('utf-8-sig')
s = u.encode('utf-8')
print fp.encoding  

This gives me the following error:

IOError: [Errno 9] Bad file descriptor


I’m being told in comments that the mistake is I open the file with mode ‘rw’ instead of ‘r+’/’r+b’, so I should eventually re-edit my question and remove the solved part.

Asked By: timpone



Simply use the “utf-8-sig” codec:

fp = open("file.txt")
s =
u = s.decode("utf-8-sig")

That gives you a unicode string without the BOM. You can then use

s = u.encode("utf-8")

to get a normal UTF-8 encoded string back in s. If your files are big, then you should avoid reading them all into memory. The BOM is simply three bytes at the beginning of the file, so you can use this code to strip them out of the file:

import os, sys, codecs

BUFSIZE = 4096
BOMLEN = len(codecs.BOM_UTF8)

path = sys.argv[1]
with open(path, "r+b") as fp:
    chunk =
    if chunk.startswith(codecs.BOM_UTF8):
        i = 0
        chunk = chunk[BOMLEN:]
        while chunk:
            i += len(chunk)
  , os.SEEK_CUR)
            chunk =, os.SEEK_CUR)

It opens the file, reads a chunk, and writes it out to the file 3 bytes earlier than where it read it. The file is rewritten in-place. As easier solution is to write the shorter file to a new file like newtover’s answer. That would be simpler, but use twice the disk space for a short period.

As for guessing the encoding, then you can just loop through the encoding from most to least specific:

def decode(s):
    for encoding in "utf-8-sig", "utf-16":
            return s.decode(encoding)
        except UnicodeDecodeError:
    return s.decode("latin-1") # will always work

An UTF-16 encoded file wont decode as UTF-8, so we try with UTF-8 first. If that fails, then we try with UTF-16. Finally, we use Latin-1 — this will always work since all 256 bytes are legal values in Latin-1. You may want to return None instead in this case since it’s really a fallback and your code might want to handle this more carefully (if it can).

Answered By: Martin Geisler
import codecs
import shutil
import sys

s =
if s != codecs.BOM_UTF8:

shutil.copyfileobj(sys.stdin, sys.stdout)
Answered By: newtover

This is my implementation to convert any kind of encoding to UTF-8 without BOM and replacing windows enlines by universal format:

def utf8_converter(file_path, universal_endline=True):
    Convert any type of file to UTF-8 without BOM
    and using universal endline by default.

    file_path : string, file path.
    universal_endline : boolean (True),
                        by default convert endlines to universal format.

    # Fix file path
    file_path = os.path.realpath(os.path.expanduser(file_path))

    # Read from file
    file_open = open(file_path)
    raw =

    # Decode
    raw = raw.decode(chardet.detect(raw)['encoding'])
    # Remove windows end line
    if universal_endline:
        raw = raw.replace('rn', 'n')
    # Encode to UTF-8
    raw = raw.encode('utf8')
    # Remove BOM
    if raw.startswith(codecs.BOM_UTF8):
        raw = raw.replace(codecs.BOM_UTF8, '', 1)

    # Write to file
    file_open = open(file_path, 'w')
    return 0
Answered By: estevo

You can use codecs.

import codecs
with open("test.txt",'r') as filehandle:
    content =
if content[:3] == codecs.BOM_UTF8:
    content = content[3:]
print content.decode("utf-8")
Answered By: wcc526

In Python 3 it’s quite easy: read the file and rewrite it with utf-8 encoding:

s = open(bom_file, mode='r', encoding='utf-8-sig').read()
open(bom_file, mode='w', encoding='utf-8').write(s)
Answered By: Geng Jiawen

I found this question because having trouble with configparser.ConfigParser().read(fp) when opening files with UTF8 BOM header.

For those who are looking for a solution to remove the header so that ConfigPhaser could open the config file instead of reporting an error of:
File contains no section headers, please open the file like the following:

configparser.ConfigParser().read(config_file_path, encoding="utf-8-sig")

This could save you tons of effort by making the remove of the BOM header of the file unnecessary.

(I know this sounds unrelated, but hopefully this could help people struggling like me.)

Answered By: Alto.Clef

In python3 you should add encoding='utf-8-sig':

with open(file_name, mode='a', encoding='utf-8-sig') as csvfile:

that’s it.