Python User-Defined Exceptions Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to this tutorial on user-defined exceptions in Python! This article is geared towards helping you understand what user-defined exceptions are, why they are an important part of programming in Python and, of course, how you can implement them in your own projects. User-defined exceptions can be a powerful tool in structuring your code and capturing specific conditions. By the end of this article, you’ll have the necessary knowledge to use them efficiently and effectively in your Python programs.

What are User-Defined Exceptions?

User-defined exceptions are exactly what they sound like — exceptions that are defined by the programmer, for the programmer.

These exceptions help to distinguish between different types of errors and can provide clarity when debugging or handling various problematic situations that can occur during the execution of a program.

Why Should I Learn About User-Defined Exceptions?

Learning how to create and use user-defined exceptions can add another tool to your coding toolkit, bringing a couple of key benefits:

  • Improve readability by making exceptional cases explicit in your code
  • Help identify and handle specific situations that may not be covered by the standard Python exceptions
  • Keep your code DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) by promoting reuse of exception handling code

Now with an understanding of what user-defined exceptions are and why you should learn about them, let’s delve into coding and see these concepts in action!

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Defining a Simple User-Defined Exception

Defining a user-defined exception is similar to defining a class in Python, because that’s essentially what you’re doing. User-defined exceptions are classes that inherit from a parent exception class. Here’s a simple example:

class MyException(Exception):

In the code snippet above, we created a new exception called “MyException” that inherits from the built-in Python class “Exception.”

Raising User-Defined Exceptions

To raise a user-defined exception, you use the raise statement, just as you would with a built-in exception. Let’s give it a try:

raise MyException("This is a custom exception.")

This code will immediately stop the program and display the message: MyException: This is a custom exception.

Handling User-Defined Exceptions

Handling user-defined exceptions is done the same way as handling built-in ones, using try/except blocks. Here’s an example:

    raise MyException("Triggering custom exception.")
except MyException as e:
    print(f"Caught an exception: {e}")

In this code snippet, we raise our custom exception inside a try block and then catch it in an except block, where we simply print out the error message.

Enhancing User-Defined Exceptions

You can make your user-defined exceptions more powerful by adding methods and properties to them. Let’s implement an enhanced version of our “MyException” that includes an error code:

class MyExceptionWithCode(Exception):
    def __init__(self, message, code):
        self.code = code

We can now raise this exception with an additional error code:

raise MyExceptionWithCode("This is a custom exception.", 100)

The error message will now include the error code as well as the message. There is a lot more you can do with user-defined exceptions, but hopefully, these steps provide a strong foundation.

Error Propagation Using User-Defined Exceptions

One important aspect of handling exceptions is knowing when to catch them and when to let them propagate up the call stack. Here’s how you can propagate a user-defined exception:

def risky_function():
    raise MyException("Something went wrong.")

except MyException as e:
    print(f"Caught an exception: {e}")

In this example, if an exception occurs in the “risky_function,” the exception is not caught within the function itself but is allowed to propagate up to the calling function, where it is caught and handled.

Grouping Exceptions

User-defined exceptions also let group similar exceptions together. If you have a bunch of related exceptions, you could define a “base” exception class and then have each specific exception class inherit from it:

class CustomBaseException(Exception):

class CustomExceptionA(CustomBaseException):

class CustomExceptionB(CustomBaseException):

You can then handle all kinds of custom exceptions in one fell swoop:

    if something:
        raise CustomExceptionA("This is exception A")
        raise CustomExceptionB("This is exception B")
except CustomBaseException as e:
    print("Caught a custom exception", e)

In the code above, the try block will catch and correctly handle instances of either “CustomExceptionA” or “CustomExceptionB” thanks to their common parent, “CustomBaseException.”

Adding More Information to Exceptions

Now let’s get a little more advanced. Sometimes, you want to attach additional information to an exception. Here’s how you can do it:

class MyException(Exception):
    def __init__(self, message, supplementary_data):
        super().__init__(message) = supplementary_data

Now we can raise this exception with additional data:

raise MyException("This is a custom exception.", {"key": "value"})

Now our custom exception comes with extra data that might be useful for handling the exception or debugging the problem.

There you have it! With these techniques in your programming toolbox, you should now have a good understanding of how to define, raise, handle, and enhance user-defined exceptions in Python, making your code more robust and easier to debug.

Where to Go Next?

You’ve made it through this in-depth tutorial on user-defined exceptions in Python! But don’t stop at this. Continuing your learning journey is key to mastering any programming language, and Python is no exception.

We recommend exploring the Python Mini-Degree offered by us at Zenva Academy. Our Python Mini-Degree is a comprehensive and carefully curated collection of courses that provide instruction on various facets of Python programming.

The curriculum spans across subjects as diverse as coding basics, intricate algorithms, object-oriented programming, game development, and mobile app creation. Practical learning is at the core of these courses, as you get to develop your own games, write powerful algorithms, and build real-world apps.

Projects included in the Mini-Degree range from creating a sophisticated medical diagnosis bot to designing an intriguing escape room, as well as developing handy applications like a to-do list app, and a quiz app to test your knowledge.

These courses are beneficial for both beginners and experienced learners, with flexible learning schedules tailored according to your convenience. Python, being a versatile language, finds extensive use across a variety of industries, especially data science, and is in high demand in the job market. Our curriculum, updated regularly to stay aligned with the latest practices and technologies, equips you with the required skill sets to thrive in these industries.

For a wider variety of content, do check out our other Python courses.


You’ve now unlocked another powerful tool in Python’s extensive programming toolbox — user-defined exceptions. With these under your belt, you’re well on your way to mastering Python. We, at Zenva Academy, remain committed to supporting your progress and helping you continue your learning journey. User-defined exceptions are just the beginning!

So, keep exploring, continue broadening your coding horizons and remember, the more you learn, the closer you get to becoming a seasoned programmer. We’re confident in your ability to become an exceptional developer and we’re excited to see you in our next tutorial. Happy Coding!

Did you come across any errors in this tutorial? Please let us know by completing this form and we’ll look into it!

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