Installation and Status

Quick installation for CPython (cffi is distributed with PyPy):

In more details:

This code has been developed on Linux, but should work on any POSIX platform as well as on Windows 32 and 64. (It relies occasionally on libffi, so it depends on libffi being bug-free; this may not be fully the case on some of the more exotic platforms.)

CFFI is tested with CPython 3.8-3.12.

The core speed of CFFI is better than ctypes, with import times being either lower if you use the post-1.0 features, or much higher if you don’t. The wrapper Python code you typically need to write around the raw CFFI interface slows things down on CPython, but not unreasonably so. On PyPy, this wrapper code has a minimal impact thanks to the JIT compiler. This makes CFFI the recommended way to interface with C libraries on PyPy.


  • CPython 3.8+, or PyPy (PyPy 2.0 for the earliest versions of CFFI; or PyPy 2.6 for CFFI 1.0).

  • in some cases you need to be able to compile C extension modules. On non-Windows platforms, this usually means installing the package python-dev. Refer to the appropriate docs for your OS.

  • on CPython, on non-Windows platforms, you also need to install libffi-dev in order to compile CFFI itself.

  • pycparser >= 2.06: (automatically tracked by pip install cffi).

  • pytest is needed to run the tests of CFFI itself.

Download and Installation:


  • Or grab the most current version from `GitHub`_: git clone

  • running the tests: pytest  c/  testing/ (if you didn’t install cffi yet, you need first python build_ext -f -i)


Platform-specific instructions

libffi is notoriously messy to install and use — to the point that CPython includes its own copy to avoid relying on external packages. CFFI does the same for Windows, but not for other platforms (which should have their own working libffi’s). Modern Linuxes work out of the box thanks to pkg-config. Here are some (user-supplied) instructions for other platforms.


Homebrew (Thanks David Griffin and Mark Keller for this)

  1. Install homebrew:

  2. Run the following commands in a terminal

brew install pkg-config libffi
PKG_CONFIG_PATH=$(brew --prefix libffi)/lib/pkgconfig pip install --no-binary cffi cffi

(the --no-binary cffi might be needed or not.)

Alternatively, on OS/X 10.6 (Thanks Juraj Sukop for this)

For building libffi you can use the default install path, but then, in you need to change:

include_dirs = []


include_dirs = ['/usr/local/lib/libffi-3.0.11/include']

Then running python build complains about “fatal error: error writing to -: Broken pipe”, which can be fixed by running:

ARCHFLAGS="-arch i386 -arch x86_64" python build

as described here.

Windows (32/64-bit)

Win32 and Win64 work and are tested at least each official release.

The recommended C compiler compatible with Python 2.7 is this one: There is a known problem with distutils on Python 2.7, as explained in, and the same problem applies whenever you want to run compile() to build a dll with this specific compiler suite download. import setuptools might help, but YMMV

More generally, the solution that should always work is to download the sources of CFFI (instead of a prebuilt binary) and make sure that you build it with the same version of Python that will use it. For example, with virtualenv:

  • virtualenv ~/venv

  • cd ~/path/to/sources/of/cffi

  • ~/venv/bin/python build --force # forcing a rebuild to make sure

  • ~/venv/bin/python install

This will compile and install CFFI in this virtualenv, using the Python from this virtualenv.


You need to make sure you have an up-to-date version of libffi, which fixes some bugs.