409 Conflict

The HTTP 409 status code means a request conflicts with the current status of the server.

This status code is useful when you want to ensure the integrity of your data.

409 vs 412

Both 409 and 412 status codes imply that request can’t be processed due to a conflict. The only difference is that 412 is appropriate when you have preconditions (If-* headers) that can’t be fulfilled.

409 vs 422

Both of these status codes are valid if you want to verify the integrity of the data before saving it to a database.

Consider a typical example where a user wants to create an account. If you want to create a user with the existing email address or tie it to a delinquent account, the server can respond with a 409 Conflict status code. Likewise, if you want to prevent account deletions that have active users tied to it, 409 is a way to go. If a user doesn’t contain the username field, but you still include it in the request body, 422 Unprocessable Entity would be more appropriate.

409 Conflict is also used when a current request might interfere with one of the previous requests. For example, to ensure that unsafe requests are idempotent, Stripe returns 409 on requests that contain the same idempotency key as one of the previous requests.

Rule of thumb:

In practice, both 409 and 422 are used interchangeably. It’s fine to use either as long as you’re consistent.

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