SyntaxError: Cannot use import statements outside a module?

Cannot Use Import Statement Outside a Module

JavaScript developers often encounter the error “SyntaxError: Cannot use import statement outside a module.” This error arises in various environments, from Node.js to front-end frameworks like React. We’ll explore why this error occurs and how to fix it in different scenarios.

What Causes This Error?


1. Node.js Environment


In Node.js (node cannot use import statement outside a module, node.js cannot use import statement outside a module), this error typically occurs when ES6 modules (using import/export syntax) are used in a CommonJS module context (using require() and module.exports).

Node.js traditionally uses the CommonJS module system. However, ES6 modules have become increasingly popular due to their declarative syntax and better support for static analysis and tree shaking.

2. Front-End Environments


In front-end development (react cannot use import statement outside a module, webpack cannot use import statement outside a module), this error often appears when the build tool or environment doesn’t support ES6 modules, or the project configuration is not set up correctly to handle them.

3. Other Specific Cases

  • AWS Lambda: In AWS Lambda (lambda cannot use import statement outside a module), the error can occur if Lambda functions are not configured to support ES6 syntax.
  • Electron: For Electron applications (electron cannot use import statement outside a module), the error might arise due to mismatched module systems between the main and renderer processes.

How to Fix the Error


1. Node.js Solutions

  • Use the Correct File Extension: In Node.js 13 and later, use the .mjs extension for ES6 modules, or set "type": "module" in your package.json.
  • Transpile Your Code: Tools like Babel (babel cannot use import statement outside a module) can transpile ES6 code to CommonJS.
  • Update Node.js Version: Ensure you’re using a Node.js version that supports ES6 modules.

2. Front-End Solutions

  • Webpack Configuration: Ensure Webpack (cannot use import statement outside a module webpack) is configured to handle ES6 modules.
  • Babel Integration: Use Babel to transpile your code to a compatible format.

3. AWS Lambda and Electron

  • AWS Lambda: For Lambda (cannot use import statement outside a module lambda), use a deployment package with the necessary dependencies and transpile your code.
  • Electron: Ensure consistency in module syntax between different Electron processes.

Best Practices and Additional Tips

  • Consistent Module Syntax: Stick to one module syntax (CommonJS or ES6) throughout your project.
  • Understand Your Environment: Different environments (mongoose fs 1, koa github, express cannot use import statement outside a module) have different module systems. Understand these systems to avoid errors.
  • Keep Dependencies Updated: Libraries like node-fetch or mongoose should be kept up to date to ensure compatibility with the module system you are using.



The “Cannot use import statement outside a module” error is a common issue faced in the JavaScript ecosystem. By understanding your development environment and correctly configuring your project to handle different module systems, you can resolve this error efficiently.


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Shehar Yar is an experienced software developer and digital marketer specializing in Progressive Web Apps, Mobile App development, Marketplace development, Web Solutions & Systems, and SEO. With over 8 years of experience, Shehar delivers top-quality solutions that drive business success for his clients. He is a skilled communicator and collaborator, dedicated to exceeding his clients' expectations. Contact Shehar today to help your business grow and thrive.

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