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How to Convert a String to UTF-8 in Python?

In this article, we will learn to convert a string to UTF-8 in Python. We will use some built-in functions and some custom code as well. Let's first have a quick look over what is a string in Python.

Python String

The String is a type in python language just like integer, float, boolean, etc. Data surrounded by single quotes or double quotes are said to be a string. A string is also known as a sequence of characters.

string1 = "apple"
string2 = "Preeti125"
string3 = "12345"
string4 = "pre@12"

What is UTF-8 in Python?

UTF is “Unicode Transformation Format”, and ‘8’ means 8-bit values are used in the encoding. It is one of the most efficient and convenient encoding formats among various encodings. In Python, Strings are by default in utf-8 format which means each alphabet corresponds to a unique code point. utf-8 encodes a Unicode string to bytes. The user receives string data on the server instead of bytes because some frameworks or library on the system has implicitly converted some random bytes to string and it happens due to encoding.

A user might encounter a situation where his server receives utf-8 characters but when he tries to retrieve it from the query string, he gets ASCII coding. Therefore, in order to convert the plain string to utf-8, we will use the encode() method to convert a string to utf-8 in python 3.

Use encode() to convert a String to UTF-8

The encode() method returns the encoded version of the string. In case of failure, a UnicodeDecodeError exception may occur.


string.encode(encoding = 'UTF-8', errors = 'strict')


encoding - the encoding type like 'UTF-8', ASCII, etc.

errors - response when encoding fails.

There are six types of error responses:

  • strict - default response which raises a UnicodeDecodeError exception on failure
  • ignore - ignores the unencodable Unicode from the result
  • replace - replaces the unencodable Unicode to a question mark?
  • xmlcharrefreplace - inserts XML character reference instead of unencodable Unicode
  • backslashreplace - inserts a \uNNNN escape sequence instead of unencodable Unicode
  • namereplace - inserts a \N{...} escape sequence instead of unencodable Unicode

By default, the encode() method does not take any parameters.


# unicode string
string = 'pythön!'
# default encoding to utf-8
string_utf = string.encode()
print('The encoded version is:', string_utf)

The encoded version is: b'pyth\xc3\xb6n!'


In this article, we learned to convert a plain string to utf-8 format using encode() method. You can also try using different encoding formats and error parameters.