The versatile FOR keyword can be used to iterate over a collection or View, all elements of an array or to traverse a graph.

General Syntax

FOR variableName IN expression

There is also a special variant for graph traversals:

FOR vertexVariableName, edgeVariableName, pathVariableName IN traversalExpression

For Views, there is a special (optional) SEARCH keyword:

FOR variableName IN viewName SEARCH searchExpression

Note that Views cannot be used as edge collections in traversals:

FOR v IN 1..3 ANY startVertex viewName /* invalid! */

Each array element returned by expression is visited exactly once. It is required that expression returns an array in all cases. The empty array is allowed, too. The current array element is made available for further processing in the variable specified by variableName.

FOR u IN users

This will iterate over all elements from the array users (note: this array consists of all documents from the collection named “users” in this case) and make the current array element available in variable u. u is not modified in this example but simply pushed into the result using the RETURN keyword.

Note: When iterating over collection-based arrays as shown here, the order of documents is undefined unless an explicit sort order is defined using a SORT statement.

The variable introduced by FOR is available until the scope the FOR is placed in is closed.

Another example that uses a statically declared array of values to iterate over:

FOR year IN [ 2011, 2012, 2013 ]
  RETURN { "year" : year, "isLeapYear" : year % 4 == 0 && (year % 100 != 0 || year % 400 == 0) }

Nesting of multiple FOR statements is allowed, too. When FOR statements are nested, a cross product of the array elements returned by the individual FOR statements will be created.

FOR u IN users
  FOR l IN locations
    RETURN { "user" : u, "location" : l }

In this example, there are two array iterations: an outer iteration over the array users plus an inner iteration over the array locations. The inner array is traversed as many times as there are elements in the outer array. For each iteration, the current values of users and locations are made available for further processing in the variable u and l.


For collections and views, the FOR construct supports an optional OPTIONS suffix to modify behavior. The general syntax is:

FOR variableName IN expression OPTIONS {option: value, ...}


For collections, index hints can be given to the optimizer with the indexHint option. The value can be a single index name or a list of index names in order of preference:

FOR  IN  OPTIONS { indexHint: "byName" }
FOR  IN  OPTIONS { indexHint: ["byName", "byColor"] }

Whenever there is a chance to potentially use an index for this FOR loop, the optimizer will first check if the specified index can be used. In case of an array of indices, the optimizer will check the feasibility of each index in the specified order. It will use the first suitable index, regardless of whether it would normally use a different index.

If none of the specified indices is suitable, then it falls back to its normal logic to select another index or fails if forceForceHint is enabled.


Index hints are not enforced by default. If forceIndexHint is set to true, then an error is generated if indexHint does not contain a usable index, instead of using a fallback index or not using an index at all.

FOR  IN  OPTIONS { indexHint:  , forceIndexHint: true }