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.


document.importNode(externalNode, deep);


The external Node or DocumentFragment to import into the current document.
A Boolean which controls whether or not to import the entire DOM subtree of the externalNode.
  • 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.

Return value

The copied node in the scope of the importing document. The new node's Node.parentNode is null, since it has not yet been inserted into the document tree.

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. 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.


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


Nodes from external documents should be cloned using document.importNode() (or adopted using document.adoptNode()) before they can be inserted into the current document. For more on the Node.ownerDocument issues, see the W3C DOM FAQ.

Firefox doesn't currently enforce this rule (it did for a while during the development of Firefox 3, but too many sites break when this rule is enforced). We encourage Web developers to fix their code to follow this rule for improved future compatibility.


Specification Status Comment
The definition of 'document.importNode()' in that specification.
Living Standard
Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Core Specification
The definition of 'document.importNode()' in that specification.
Obsolete Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
importNodeChrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 4IE Full support 9Opera Full support 9Safari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
deep parameter optionalChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support 10IE No support NoOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support 10Opera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes


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See also