The Document object's importNode() method creates a copy of a Node or DocumentFragment from another document, to be inserted into the current document later.

The imported node is not yet included in the document tree. To include it, you need to call an insertion method such as appendChild() or insertBefore() with a node that is currently in the document tree.

Unlike document.adoptNode(), the original node is not removed from its original document. The imported node is a clone of the original.


const importedNode = document.importNode(externalNode [, deep]);


The external Node or DocumentFragment to import into the current document.
deep Optional
A Boolean which controls whether to include the entire DOM subtree of the externalNode in the import.
  • If deep is set to true, then externalNode and all of its descendants are copied.
  • If deep is set to false, then only externalNode is imported — the new node has no children.

Note: In the DOM4 specification, deep was an optional argument with a default value of true.

This default has changed in the latest spec! The new default value is false.

Best Practice: Though it's still an optional argument, you should always provide the deep argument for backward and forward compatibility.

  • With Gecko 28.0 (Firefox 28 / Thunderbird 28 / SeaMonkey 2.25 / Firefox OS 1.3), the console warns developers not to omit the argument.
  • Starting with Gecko 29.0 (Firefox 29 / Thunderbird 29 / SeaMonkey 2.26)), a shallow clone is defaulted instead of a deep clone.

Return value

The copied importedNode in the scope of the importing document.

Note: importedNode's Node.parentNode is null, since it has not yet been inserted into the document tree!


const iframe  = document.querySelector("iframe");
const oldNode = iframe.contentWindow.document.getElementById("myNode");
const newNode = document.importNode(oldNode, true);


Before they can be inserted into the current document, nodes from external documents should either be:

Best Practice: Although Firefox doesn't currently enforce this rule, we encourage you to follow this rule for improved future compatibility.

For more on the Node.ownerDocument issues, see the W3C DOM FAQ.


DOM Standard (DOM)
# ref-for-dom-document-importnode①

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also