Validate Environment Variables With Zod

This article teaches you how to validate environment variables with Zod.

Zod is a validation library that enables you to validate your data against a pre-defined schema. The schema defines the type of your data. For instance, if you have the name field and you want to make sure it's a string, you can create the schema as follows:

const nameSchema = z.string()

Alternatively, you can create an object schema, which is useful when you want to validate an object (a user object in this case):

const userSchema = z.object({
    name: z.string(),

In short, you define the schema, and Zod ensures that the data matches that schema.

One of the benefits of validating environment variables is that it helps the developers working on the project understand what values those variables accept. Another benefit is that it eliminates the issue with process.env, where you don't know if the variable is defined or if it's misconfigured.

Client and server schema

In frameworks like Next.js, you can't access environment variables in the browser by default. They are only available in the Node.js environment. The workaround they did was to allow developers to prefix "client-side" variables with NEXT_PUBLIC_.

As a result, we need to split the environment variables into 2 files:

  • one file for the environment variables available to the browser
  • one file for the other variables

Client-side validation

Create a new file clientEnvSchema.ts, and add the following code snippet:

import z from 'zod';

const envSchema = z.object({
    NEXT_PUBLIC_SUPABASE_URL: z.string().url(),
    NEXT_PUBLIC_HOST_NAME: z.string().url().trim().optional(),
    NEXT_PUBLIC_VERCEL_URL: z.string().url().optional(),

export const envClientSchema = envSchema.parse({

The above code starts by defining an object schema using Zod's object method. In this case, the environment variables being validated are:

  • NEXT_PUBLIC_SUPABASE_URL - expected to be a valid URL string
  • NEXT_PUBLIC_HOST_NAME - expected to be a valid URL string and is optional
  • NEXT_PUBLIC_VERCEL_URL - also expected to be a valid URL string and is optional

After that, it calls the parse method on envSchema with an object that contains the actual values of the environment variables. The variables are fetched from process.env one by one. Otherwise, it throws an error.

The parse method then validates that the actual environment variables match the format specified in envSchema. If any validation fails, it will throw an error.

Lastly, the parsed and validated environment variables are exported as envClientSchema for usage in the client-side code. You can use them in your code as follows envClientSchema.NEXT_PUBLIC_VERCEL_URL.

Server-side validation

The server environment variables are validated similarly. Create a new file serverEnvSchema.ts and add the following code:

import z from 'zod';

const envSchema = z.object({
    PREVIEW_API_KEY: z.string().trim().min(1),
    PORT: z.number().default(3000),
    NODE_ENV: z
        .enum(['development', 'production', 'test'])
    DATABASE_URL: z.string().trim().min(1),

export const envServerSchema = envSchema.parse(process.env);

In this case, you can pass the process.env object to the parse method without destructuring it. Now you can use the environment variables envServerSchema.NODE_ENV in the server code.

Taking it a step further

Zod throws an error automatically when there is a problem with the environment variables, but it's not legible.

So, let's modify the code in the serverEnvSchema.ts file:

import z from 'zod';

const envSchema = z.object({
    PREVIEW_API_KEY: z.string().trim().min(1),
    STRIPE_SECRET_KEY: z.string().trim().min(1),
    STRIPE_SIGNING_SECRET: z.string().trim().min(1),
    USER_INSERTED_TOKEN: z.string().trim().min(1),
    LOOPS_API_URL: z.string().url(),
    LOOPS_TOKEN: z.string().trim().min(1),
    PORT: z.number().default(3000),
    NODE_ENV: z
        .enum(['development', 'production', 'test'])
    DATABASE_URL: z.string().trim().min(1),

const envServer = envSchema.safeParse({
    LOOPS_API_URL: process.env.LOOPS_API_URL,
    LOOPS_TOKEN: process.env.LOOPS_TOKEN,
    PORT: process.env.PORT,
    NODE_ENV: process.env.NODE_ENV,

if (!envServer.success) {
    throw new Error('There is an error with the server environment variables');

export const envServerSchema =;

safeParse is a Zod method that returns an object that contains a success property and a data property if the parsing is successful. Or a success property and an error property if the parsing fails.

If there are one or more errors, it displays them in the console and then exits the Node.js application.

Extend the ProcessEnv interface

One trick I've found recently from Matt Pocock is to extend the ProcessEnv interface.

type EnvSchemaType = z.infer<typeof envSchema>;

declare global {
    namespace NodeJS {
        interface ProcessEnv extends EnvSchemaType {}

The above code creates a TypeScript type EnvSchemaType that matches the types defined in the envSchema. It then uses the EnvSchemaType to extend the ProcessEnv interface from the global NodeJS namespace with the type inferred from the envSchema.

As a result, the environment variables from the envSchema are correctly typed and available on the process.env. Even better, you have them on autocomplete.

(references: ref1, ref2)

The end

You now have strongly typed environment variables and auto-complete. If your environment variables are correctly set, your app runs as usual. Otherwise, Zod throws an error and stops the app from running.

Other Zod-related articles: