What is ISO date format

As world is becoming a big family with globalization, we need the standard to followed to avoid confusion especially related to date and time. If every country or person would write dates in different format, it would be confusing to figure out exact date while doing communication across countries, hence ISO has come up with ISO date format to be followed by every one. 

International Standard ISO 8601 specifies numeric representations of date and time. This standard notation helps to avoid confusion in international communication caused by the many different national notations and increases the portability of computer user interfaces.



     YYYY = four-digit year

     MM   = two-digit month (01=January, etc.)

     DD   = two-digit day of month (01 through 31)

     hh   = two digits of hour (00 through 23) (am/pm NOT allowed)

     mm   = two digits of minute (00 through 59)

     ss   = two digits of second (00 through 59)

     s    = one or more digits representing a decimal fraction of a second

     TZD  = time zone designator (Z or +hh:mm or -hh:mm)


 1997-07-16T19:20:30.45Z (Z at end indicates time is taken with Zero correction i.e. UTC time)

 1997-07-16T19:20:30.45+01:00 (+1:00 at end indicates time is taken at time zone which is 1:00 ahead of UTC time)

Advantages of the ISO 8601 standard date notation compared to other commonly used variants:

  • easily readable and writeable by software (no ‘JAN’, ‘FEB’, … table necessary)
  • easily comparable and sortable with a trivial string comparison
  • language independent
  • can not be confused with other popular date notations
  • consistency with the common 24h time notation system, where the larger units (hours) are also written in front of the smaller ones (minutes and seconds)
  • strings containing a date followed by a time are also easily comparable and sortable (e.g. write “1995-02-04 22:45:00”)
  • the notation is short and has constant length, which makes both keyboard data entry and table layout easier
  • identical to the Chinese date notation, so the largest cultural group (>25%) on this planet is already familiar with it 🙂
  • date notations with the order “year, month, day” are in addition already widely used e.g. in Japan, Korea, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and a few other countries and people in the U.S. are already used to at least the “month, day” order
  • a 4-digit year representation avoids overflow problems after 2099-12-31

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