importerror: attempted relative import with no known parent package

ImportError: Attempted Relative Import with No Known Parent Package

In Python, importing modules and packages allows you to reuse code and organize your project effectively. However, sometimes you may encounter an ImportError with the message “attempted relative import with no known parent package.” This error can be puzzling, especially if you’re new to Python development. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this error and how to resolve it, ensuring your Python code runs smoothly.

importerror: attempted relative import with no known parent package

Understanding Relative Imports

What are relative imports?

Relative imports in Python are used to import modules or sub-packages relative to the current package or module. Instead of specifying the absolute path of the module, you can use a relative path to import code from within the same project structure.

How do relative imports work?

Relative imports in Python use dot notation to navigate the package structure. A single dot (.) represents the current package, two dots (..) represent the parent package, and so on. By specifying the appropriate number of dots and the relative path to the module, you can import the desired code.

Common Mistakes with Relative Imports

One common mistake when working with relative imports is encountering the “ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package.” Let’s explore why this error occurs and how to fix it.

ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package

The “ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package” occurs when Python encounters a relative import but cannot determine the parent package. This error suggests that either the package structure is incorrect or a required file is missing.

Causes of the ImportError

Missing file

One possible cause of the “ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package” is the absence of an file. The file indicates that a directory is a Python package. Without it, Python won’t recognize the directory as a package, leading to the import error.

Incorrect package structure

Another cause of the ImportError is an incorrect package structure. It’s important to ensure that your package structure follows the proper hierarchy. If the relative import references a package or module that doesn’t exist in the expected location within the package structure, Python won’t be able to find the necessary code.

Circular dependencies

Circular dependencies occur when two or more modules depend on each other. If circular dependencies exist within your project and you attempt a relative import, Python may encounter difficulties determining the parent package, resulting in the import error.

Resolving the ImportError

To resolve the “ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package,” you can take the following steps:

Adding the missing file

If your package is missing the file, you should add it to the relevant directories. The file can be empty or may contain initialization code for the package. By including this file, you indicate to Python that the directory is a package and allow for successful relative imports.

Adjusting the package structure

If the package structure is incorrect, you should adjust it according to the desired hierarchy. Ensure that packages and modules are organized properly and located in the expected directories. By aligning the package structure with the relative import paths, you can avoid the import error.

Refactoring code to avoid circular dependencies

If circular dependencies exist within your project, consider refactoring your code to eliminate them. Circular dependencies can lead to various issues, including the “ImportError” we are addressing in this article. By restructuring your code and removing circular dependencies, you can prevent this error from occurring.

Best Practices for Relative Imports

While relative imports can be useful, it’s important to follow best practices to ensure clean and maintainable code.

Using explicit relative imports

When using relative imports, it’s recommended to use explicit relative import statements. Instead of relying on implicit relative imports, explicitly specify the path to the module or package. This practice improves code readability and avoids potential issues when working with complex project structures.

Avoiding relative imports for top-level modules

Relative imports are primarily intended for importing within a package structure. For top-level modules or scripts, it’s better to use absolute imports instead. This approach ensures clarity and avoids confusion when importing modules from different parts of your codebase.


In conclusion, the “ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package” can occur due to missing files, incorrect package structures, or circular dependencies. By adding the necessary files, adjusting the package structure, and refactoring code to avoid circular dependencies, you can resolve this error. Remember to follow best practices when using relative imports to ensure clean and maintainable code.


  1. Why am I getting an “ImportError: attempted relative import with no known parent package”?

    If you’re encountering this error, it means Python couldn’t determine the parent package for a relative import. This can be caused by missing files, an incorrect package structure, or circular dependencies.

  2. How can I fix the ImportError related to relative imports?

    To fix the ImportError, ensure that your package has the necessary files, verify the package structure is correct, and refactor your code to eliminate circular dependencies.

  3. What is the purpose of the file in Python packages?

    The file serves as an indicator that a directory is a Python package. It allows Python to recognize and import modules from that package.

  4. Are relative imports considered good practice in Python?

    Relative imports can be useful within a package structure, but for top-level modules, it’s recommended to use absolute imports. Explicit relative imports are preferred over implicit ones for improved code readability.

  5. Can circular dependencies be completely avoided in Python?

    Circular dependencies can be challenging to avoid in complex projects, but they should generally be minimized or eliminated. Refactoring code and restructuring dependencies can help resolve circular dependencies and prevent potential issue.

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