datetime – Date/time value manipulation

Purpose:The datetime module includes functions and classes for doing date and time parsing, formatting, and arithmetic.
Available In:2.3 and later

datetime contains functions and classes for working with dates and times, separatley and together.


Time values are represented with the time class. Times have attributes for hour, minute, second, and microsecond. They can also include time zone information. The arguments to initialize a time instance are optional, but the default of 0 is unlikely to be what you want.

import datetime

t = datetime.time(1, 2, 3)
print t
print 'hour  :', t.hour
print 'minute:', t.minute
print 'second:', t.second
print 'microsecond:', t.microsecond
print 'tzinfo:', t.tzinfo
$ python

hour  : 1
minute: 2
second: 3
microsecond: 0
tzinfo: None

A time instance only holds values of time, and not a date associated with the time.

import datetime

print 'Earliest  :', datetime.time.min
print 'Latest    :', datetime.time.max
print 'Resolution:', datetime.time.resolution

The min and max class attributes reflect the valid range of times in a single day.

$ python

Earliest  : 00:00:00
Latest    : 23:59:59.999999
Resolution: 0:00:00.000001

The resolution for time is limited to whole microseconds.

import datetime

for m in [ 1, 0, 0.1, 0.6 ]:
        print '%02.1f :' % m, datetime.time(0, 0, 0, microsecond=m)
    except TypeError, err:
        print 'ERROR:', err

In fact, using floating point numbers for the microsecond argument generates a TypeError.

$ python

1.0 : 00:00:00.000001
0.0 : 00:00:00
0.1 : ERROR: integer argument expected, got float
0.6 : ERROR: integer argument expected, got float


Calendar date values are represented with the date class. Instances have attributes for year, month, and day. It is easy to create a date representing today’s date using the today() class method.

import datetime

today =
print today
print 'ctime:', today.ctime()
print 'tuple:', today.timetuple()
print 'ordinal:', today.toordinal()
print 'Year:', today.year
print 'Mon :', today.month
print 'Day :',

This example prints the current date in several formats:

$ python

ctime: Thu Feb 21 00:00:00 2013
tuple: time.struct_time(tm_year=2013, tm_mon=2, tm_mday=21, tm_hour=0, tm_min=0, tm_sec=0, tm_wday=3, tm_yday=52, tm_isdst=-1)
ordinal: 734920
Year: 2013
Mon : 2
Day : 21

There are also class methods for creating instances from integers (using proleptic Gregorian ordinal values, which starts counting from Jan. 1 of the year 1) or POSIX timestamp values.

import datetime
import time

o = 733114
print 'o:', o
print 'fromordinal(o):',
t = time.time()
print 't:', t
print 'fromtimestamp(t):',

This example illustrates the different value types used by fromordinal() and fromtimestamp().

$ python

o: 733114
fromordinal(o): 2008-03-13
t: 1361446545.52
fromtimestamp(t): 2013-02-21

As with time, the range of date values supported can be determined using the min and max attributes.

import datetime

print 'Earliest  :',
print 'Latest    :',
print 'Resolution:',

The resolution for dates is whole days.

$ python

Earliest  : 0001-01-01
Latest    : 9999-12-31
Resolution: 1 day, 0:00:00

Another way to create new date instances uses the replace() method of an existing date. For example, you can change the year, leaving the day and month alone.

import datetime

d1 =, 3, 12)
print 'd1:', d1

d2 = d1.replace(year=2009)
print 'd2:', d2
$ python

d1: 2008-03-12
d2: 2009-03-12


Using replace() is not the only way to calculate future/past dates. You can use datetime to perform basic arithmetic on date values via the timedelta class. Subtracting dates produces a timedelta, and a timedelta can be added or subtracted from a date to produce another date. The internal values for a timedelta are stored in days, seconds, and microseconds.

import datetime

print "microseconds:", datetime.timedelta(microseconds=1)
print "milliseconds:", datetime.timedelta(milliseconds=1)
print "seconds     :", datetime.timedelta(seconds=1)
print "minutes     :", datetime.timedelta(minutes=1)
print "hours       :", datetime.timedelta(hours=1)
print "days        :", datetime.timedelta(days=1)
print "weeks       :", datetime.timedelta(weeks=1)

Intermediate level values passed to the constructor are converted into days, seconds, and microseconds.

$ python

microseconds: 0:00:00.000001
milliseconds: 0:00:00.001000
seconds     : 0:00:01
minutes     : 0:01:00
hours       : 1:00:00
days        : 1 day, 0:00:00
weeks       : 7 days, 0:00:00

Date Arithmetic

Date math uses the standard arithmetic operators. This example with date objects illustrates using timedelta objects to compute new dates, and subtracting date instances to produce timedeltas (including a negative delta value).

import datetime

today =
print 'Today    :', today

one_day = datetime.timedelta(days=1)
print 'One day  :', one_day

yesterday = today - one_day
print 'Yesterday:', yesterday

tomorrow = today + one_day
print 'Tomorrow :', tomorrow

print 'tomorrow - yesterday:', tomorrow - yesterday
print 'yesterday - tomorrow:', yesterday - tomorrow
$ python

Today    : 2013-02-21
One day  : 1 day, 0:00:00
Yesterday: 2013-02-20
Tomorrow : 2013-02-22
tomorrow - yesterday: 2 days, 0:00:00
yesterday - tomorrow: -2 days, 0:00:00

Comparing Values

Both date and time values can be compared using the standard operators to determine which is earlier or later.

import datetime
import time

print 'Times:'
t1 = datetime.time(12, 55, 0)
print '\tt1:', t1
t2 = datetime.time(13, 5, 0)
print '\tt2:', t2
print '\tt1 < t2:', t1 < t2

print 'Dates:'
d1 =
print '\td1:', d1
d2 = + datetime.timedelta(days=1)
print '\td2:', d2
print '\td1 > d2:', d1 > d2
$ python

        t1: 12:55:00
        t2: 13:05:00
        t1 < t2: True
        d1: 2013-02-21
        d2: 2013-02-22
        d1 > d2: False

Combining Dates and Times

Use the datetime class to hold values consisting of both date and time components. As with date, there are several convenient class methods to make creating datetime instances from other common values.

import datetime

print 'Now    :',
print 'Today  :',
print 'UTC Now:', datetime.datetime.utcnow()

d =
for attr in [ 'year', 'month', 'day', 'hour', 'minute', 'second', 'microsecond']:
    print attr, ':', getattr(d, attr)

As you might expect, the datetime instance has all of the attributes of both a date and a time object.

$ python

Now    : 2013-02-21 06:35:45.658505
Today  : 2013-02-21 06:35:45.659381
UTC Now: 2013-02-21 11:35:45.659396
year : 2013
month : 2
day : 21
hour : 6
minute : 35
second : 45
microsecond : 659677

Just as with date, datetime provides convenient class methods for creating new instances. It also includes fromordinal() and fromtimestamp(). In addition, combine() can be useful if you already have a date instance and time instance and want to create a datetime.

import datetime

t = datetime.time(1, 2, 3)
print 't :', t

d =
print 'd :', d

dt = datetime.datetime.combine(d, t)
print 'dt:', dt
$ python

t : 01:02:03
d : 2013-02-21
dt: 2013-02-21 01:02:03

Formatting and Parsing

The default string representation of a datetime object uses the ISO 8601 format (YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS.mmmmmm). Alternate formats can be generated using strftime(). Similarly, if your input data includes timestamp values parsable with time.strptime(), then datetime.strptime() is a convenient way to convert them to datetime instances.

import datetime

format = "%a %b %d %H:%M:%S %Y"

today =
print 'ISO     :', today

s = today.strftime(format)
print 'strftime:', s

d = datetime.datetime.strptime(s, format)
print 'strptime:', d.strftime(format)
$ python

ISO     : 2013-02-21 06:35:45.707450
strftime: Thu Feb 21 06:35:45 2013
strptime: Thu Feb 21 06:35:45 2013

Time Zones

Within datetime, time zones are represented by subclasses of tzinfo. Since tzinfo is an abstract base class, you need to define a subclass and provide appropriate implementations for a few methods to make it useful. Unfortunately, datetime does not include any actual implementations ready to be used, although the documentation does provide a few sample implementations. Refer to the standard library documentation page for examples using fixed offsets as well as a DST-aware class and more details about creating your own class. pytz is also a good source for time zone implementation details.

See also

The standard library documentation for this module.
The calendar module.
The time module.
dateutil from Labix extends the datetime module with additional features.
WikiPedia: Proleptic Gregorian calendar
A description of the Gregorian calendar system.
World Time Zone database
ISO 8601
The standard for numeric representation of Dates and Time
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