How to Fix “export not a valid identifier” Error

In Linux-based operating systems, CLI is the crucial player in handling operations. These operations are assisted by commands. Linux allows the use of Bash files to take these individual commands and compile them inside a single file to be executed.

Bash files are often used to create or set PATH variables for certain software that are installed. This is achieved using the “export” keyword. Dealing with this keyword, you may encounter a familiar problem with the statement “export not a valid identifier” on your system.

This article will elaborate on the core reasoning behind this error and demonstrate how it can be resolved.

Resolve the “export not a valid identifier” Problem

This section will provide you with the causes of the “export not a valid identifier” error and also their corresponding fixes.

Reason 1: Spaces Used Around “=” Sign

In Linux, every command has a certain syntax to execute that command successfully. If the syntax of the export command is not followed properly, it will invoke the error “export not a valid identifier”. The most common syntax mistake is when using the “=” sign to set the variable name and value. An example of the incorrect syntax is as follows:

export PATH = $PATH:/usr/local/bin

As seen in the snippet above, there are spaces on both sides of the “=” sign which will prompt the error on your system.

Solution: Remove the Spaces

The most simple fix for this issue is to remove the spaces on both sides of the “=” sign, which will be the correct syntax for the “export” keyword. A demonstration for this example is shown below:

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin

Running this command will not prompt any error as shown in the snippet below:

Reason 2: No Variable Name or With “$” Sign

While using the export command, the user may forget to write the name of the variable or may write the variable alongside the “$” sign. This is an obvious syntax problem where the assigned value will not be stored since no variable name is assigned. Furthermore, the name is not considered due to the “$” sign alongside it.

Examples of these errors are demonstrated in the command below:

export =variableValue

We can see that either no “variable name” is assigned before the value in the first command and the name of the second command is not considered due to the “$” sign.

Solution: Remove “$” Sign or Add Name

The best solution for this issue is to add a name behind the variable value with the correct syntax. The correct syntax is demonstrated in the command below:

export var=variableValue

With this fix, the error will no longer occur, and the bash file will execute without any further issues.

That’s it from this guide!


The “export not a valid identifier” issue occurs for two reasons. The first reason is that spaces exist around the “=” sign of the export command. The other reason is that the name of the variable is incorrectly declared. To resolve this issue, you need to remove the spaces on both sides of the “=” sign, and you need to declare the name of the variable correctly. This article has provided all the possible reasons for this error and helped you resolve them.