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What Is the External Lookup Relationship in Salesforce?

Salesforce lets you build relationships among your objects for you to establish connections with important related data within your platform. One such relationship type that you can utilize is the External Lookup Relationship. This post will briefly explain this relationship type and how it is used.

External Lookup Relationship Defined

External Lookup Relationships are used when you want to connect a child object to a parent External object. The child object can either be a Standard, Custom, or an External object.

This type of relationship uses an External ID to correctly map the child object with the parent External object. The External ID field values are matched against the external lookup relationship field values.

You can use External Lookup Relationships if you want to use external data not stored within your Salesforce system but are related to the ones already existing in your Salesforce database. You need not store these data in Salesforce to link them together; you can just utilize External lookup Relationships to successfully map them together and use them at will.

Considerations Is Using External Lookup Relationships

You have to keep the following pointers in mind while working on External Lookup Relationships:

  • Data loading for fields with an External lookup Relationship might take a little longer than usual since the mapped data here comes from a source outside of Salesforce.
  • You can use External Lookup Relationships together with Page Layouts to help users view related data within a single page. This eliminates the need to go back and forth from Salesforce and the external data system where the linked data is stored.
  • Only an external object is allowed to become the parent object in this type of relationship, unlike in the Lookup and Indirect Lookup relationships where only standard and custom objects are used as parent objects.
  • External Lookup Relationship field values for a child external object will be from a specific External Column Name.
  • Cascade Delete and lookup Filter functions do not work on external objects.


External Lookup Relationships are used to link parent external objects to child standard, custom, and external objects. This feature is useful if the data to be linked come from a database source outside of Salesforce. This relationship type can work together with Page Layouts to help you display linked data within and outside of Salesforce onto a single page.

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