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Using the FHIR Validator

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This page documents the use of the FHIR Validator jar for validation. See [Validating Resources] for further information and other options for validating resources.

Downloading the validator

To download the validator: []

Running the validator

Note that you should always use the current validator (see above), irrespective of which FHIR Release you are validating. You need a current version of java to run the validator:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar [params]

The params control how the validator works, and are documented here.

You can also use the validator for other things than validation: Using the FHIR Validator to transform content, todo...

Note if you get an error from java "Out of Memory Error" -- Increase your java heap configuration

Choosing what to validate

The validator takes a series of parameters that indicate the resources to validator. There must be at at least one source param.

Each source parameter can contain either:

  • a URL that returns the resource to validate (authentication is not supported)
  • a filename (relative to the current directory, or absolute)
  • a directory that contains resources to validate (all files are validated if they are recognised as resources)
  • a pattern: a directory followed by a filename with an embedded asterisk. E.g. foo*-examples.xml or someresource.*, etc

All other parameters are 'named parameters' - e.g. -name value. Any parameter preceded by a recognised name is interpreted as a source parameter

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar /tmp/resource.json


 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml

Managing Output

By default, the outcome of validating is simply printed to std out (the console / terminal / command window).

If the parameter -output is defined, a file will be created to contain the output. The file will contain an OperationOutcome, or if more than one resource is found, a Bundle of OperationOutcome resources

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -output c:\temp\validation.xml

Choosing the version

The validator checks the resource against the base specification. By default, this is the current build version of the specification. You probably don't want to validate against that version, so the first thing to do is to specify which version of the spec to use.

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0

Valid values for version are 1.0 | 1.4 | 3.0 | or 1.0.2 | 1.4.0 | 3.0.1 and the similar 3 or 5 letter versions strings for the current build

Note: alternatively, you can specify the version -defn or -ig parameters:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -defn hl7.fhir.core#3.0.1
 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -ig hl7.fhir.core#3.0.1

These are all synonymous with specifying the version, and maintained for backwards compatibility. It's simpler to use the version parameter.

Note: validating against the base FHIR specification requires that the package for the specific version be installed in your FHIR Package Cache. If it's not, the validator will download it and install it.

Validating against an implementation guide

The validator can validate against an implementation guide. Do this involves 2 steps:

  • loading the package for the implementation guide
  • telling the validator what to validate against

Loading an implementation Guide

Tell the validator to load the package for an implementation guide using the -ig parameter:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig

The package validator loads the relevant implementation guide. Rather than nominating the the package id, you can also provide the canonical url of the implementation guide:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig

You don't have to specify the version:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig
 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig

In this case, the current published version of the IG is used.

Alternatively, the -ig parameter can contain:

  • a URL that returns a relevant resource (profile, extension definition, code system or value set) to load
  • the name of a file that contains relevant resource to load, i.e. this can be a single profile file
  • the name of a directory that contains relevant resources (scan and load *.xml, *.json, and *.ttl - any that can be parsed)


  • Packages will be installed in your FHIR Package Cache as required
  • Packages must have the same underlying fhir version as that specified in the -version parameter
  • if you want to validate against the current build version (pre-publication) of an implementation guide auto-published through, use 'current' as the version
  • if you want to validate against an implementation that you built yourself using the IG publisher on your own machine, use 'dev' as the version
  • if you have problems with an implementation guide, please ask on [the conformance stream on]
  • you can load more than one version of an implementation guide, though this is not usually very useful
 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig -ig

What to validate against

Use the -profile parameter to tell the validator what to validate against:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig -profile

The -profile parameter is the canonical URL for the profile you wish to validate against. This is usually clearly specified on the page where the profile is published. If the profile you specify has not been loaded through one of the implementation guides, the validator will try and load it directly from the canonical url, but it's better to load it with an -ig parameter first.

You can nominate more than one profile to validate against

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig -profile -profile

If the Implementation Guide specifies a global profile that applies to all uses of a conformance resource, then you can nominate the canonical URL of the implementation guide resource itself:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -ig -profile

If the implementation guide doesn't specify a global profile for the relevant type, you'll get an error.

Other Validation Parameters

There are other validation parameters that affect validation:

Terminology Server

The validation engine uses a terminology server to validate codes from large external terminologies such as SNOMED CT, LOINC, RxNorm, etc. By default, the terminology server used is, which supports most of these terminologies. If you want to use another terminology server, you can specify one using the -tx parameter:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -tx http://myserver/r3

If you nominate another terminology server, the following rules apply:

  • it must be support the same version as the -version parameter
  • it must implement the $validate-code operation in the FHIR specification
  • there must be no authentication
  • There are multiple open source servers that support these requirements. The software that runs is available from [Health Intersections]

Alternatively, you can run without any terminology support:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -tx n/a

External codes are not validated when run like this.


In some cases (e.g. when creating examples for implementation guides or when checking for potential interoperability issues with a new communication partner), it can be useful to know when data elements are present in an instance when those elements are not "mustSupport" in the profile(s) the instance is being validated against. Identifying situations where this occurs might drive a change to the profile or cause a designer to drop an element from the instance. In other cases, the presence of the element can be fine and the information message ignored.

To get the validator to flag such issues, invoke it with the parameter -hintAboutNonMustSupport

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -hintAboutNonMustSupport


note: this parameter is not presently supported

The -extensions parameter controls how extensions are validated by the validator. By default, unknown extensions are prohibited.

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -extension *

This allows all unknown extensions

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -extension http://example/org/

This allows extensions from the specified domain (by matching the URL for the extension). This parameter can repeat any number of times


note: this parameter is not presently supported

By default, the validator will validate a QuestionaireResponse resources against the specified questionnaire resource, if one is specified. The behavior of this can be controlled by the -questionnaire parameter:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -questionnaire none

Possible values for this parameter:

  • none: do not validate questionnaire responses against the matching questionnaire
  • check: validate questionnaire responses against the matching questionnaire, if one is provided
  • required: validate questionnaire responses against the matching questionnaire, and report it as an error if none is specified


Set the minimum level for validation messages

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar [src] -level warnings

Possible values: - hints - report all hints, warnings and errors. (same as if not present) - warnings - report all warnings and errors, but not hints - errors - report all errors, but not warnings and hints

note: this parameter is not presently supported

Best Practices

note: this parameter is not presently supported

There are a few contraints in the specification that are warnings but marked as 'best practice'. These are typically rules that the committees believe that should be followed, but cannot be due to legacy data constraints. by specifying the parameter -best-practice, these will be treated as errors not warnings. This parameter has no value

Language / Display

note: these parameters re not presently supported

The -lang parameter tells the vlaidator what language to default to if content has no specified language. The value is the same as for xml:lang. This is most useful when checking displays on coded values.

The -coding-display parameter controls to what degree code displays are checked. Possible value are Ignore, Check, CheckCaseAndSpace, CheckCase, CheckSpace

Native Validation

note: this parameter is not presently supported

By default, the validation engine only validates using the FHIR structures and profiles. The publication processes also generate a variety of xml, json and RDF schemas. You can ask the validator to validate against these as well using the native parameter:

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\patient.xml -version 3.0 -native

Note that there is nothing in these schemas that is not validated directly by the engine itself anyway, so the main use for this is to see the kind of errors that would be reported from these schemas by other software.


  • xml: Xerces
  • json: tba
  • rdf: tba

Validating CDA Documents

The FHIR Validator can validate CDA documents.

 java -jar org.hl7.fhir.validator.jar c:\temp\cda.xml -ig hl7.fhir.cda 

This is not yet supported