8.5. Date/Time Types #

PostgreSQL supports the full set of SQL date and time types, shown in Table 8.9. The operations available on these data types are described in Section 9.9. Dates are counted according to the Gregorian calendar, even in years before that calendar was introduced (see Section B.6 for more information).

Table 8.9. Date/Time Types

NameStorage SizeDescriptionLow ValueHigh ValueResolution
timestamp [ (p) ] [ without time zone ]8 bytesboth date and time (no time zone)4713 BC294276 AD1 microsecond
timestamp [ (p) ] with time zone8 bytesboth date and time, with time zone4713 BC294276 AD1 microsecond
date4 bytesdate (no time of day)4713 BC5874897 AD1 day
time [ (p) ] [ without time zone ]8 bytestime of day (no date)00:00:0024:00:001 microsecond
time [ (p) ] with time zone12 bytestime of day (no date), with time zone00:00:00+155924:00:00-15591 microsecond
interval [ fields ] [ (p) ]16 bytestime interval-178000000 years178000000 years1 microsecond


The SQL standard requires that writing just timestamp be equivalent to timestamp without time zone, and PostgreSQL honors that behavior. timestamptz is accepted as an abbreviation for timestamp with time zone; this is a PostgreSQL extension.

time, timestamp, and interval accept an optional precision value p which specifies the number of fractional digits retained in the seconds field. By default, there is no explicit bound on precision. The allowed range of p is from 0 to 6.

The interval type has an additional option, which is to restrict the set of stored fields by writing one of these phrases:


Note that if both fields and p are specified, the fields must include SECOND, since the precision applies only to the seconds.

The type time with time zone is defined by the SQL standard, but the definition exhibits properties which lead to questionable usefulness. In most cases, a combination of date, time, timestamp without time zone, and timestamp with time zone should provide a complete range of date/time functionality required by any application.

8.5.1. Date/Time Input #

Date and time input is accepted in almost any reasonable format, including ISO 8601, SQL-compatible, traditional POSTGRES, and others. For some formats, ordering of day, month, and year in date input is ambiguous and there is support for specifying the expected ordering of these fields. Set the DateStyle parameter to MDY to select month-day-year interpretation, DMY to select day-month-year interpretation, or YMD to select year-month-day interpretation.

PostgreSQL is more flexible in handling date/time input than the SQL standard requires. See Appendix B for the exact parsing rules of date/time input and for the recognized text fields including months, days of the week, and time zones.

Remember that any date or time literal input needs to be enclosed in single quotes, like text strings. Refer to Section for more information. SQL requires the following syntax

type [ (p) ] 'value'

where p is an optional precision specification giving the number of fractional digits in the seconds field. Precision can be specified for time, timestamp, and interval types, and can range from 0 to 6. If no precision is specified in a constant specification, it defaults to the precision of the literal value (but not more than 6 digits). Dates #

Table 8.10 shows some possible inputs for the date type.

Table 8.10. Date Input

1999-01-08ISO 8601; January 8 in any mode (recommended format)
January 8, 1999unambiguous in any datestyle input mode
1/8/1999January 8 in MDY mode; August 1 in DMY mode
1/18/1999January 18 in MDY mode; rejected in other modes
01/02/03January 2, 2003 in MDY mode; February 1, 2003 in DMY mode; February 3, 2001 in YMD mode
1999-Jan-08January 8 in any mode
Jan-08-1999January 8 in any mode
08-Jan-1999January 8 in any mode
99-Jan-08January 8 in YMD mode, else error
08-Jan-99January 8, except error in YMD mode
Jan-08-99January 8, except error in YMD mode
19990108ISO 8601; January 8, 1999 in any mode
990108ISO 8601; January 8, 1999 in any mode
1999.008year and day of year
J2451187Julian date
January 8, 99 BCyear 99 BC Times #

The time-of-day types are time [ (p) ] without time zone and time [ (p) ] with time zone. time alone is equivalent to time without time zone.

Valid input for these types consists of a time of day followed by an optional time zone. (See Table 8.11 and Table 8.12.) If a time zone is specified in the input for time without time zone, it is silently ignored. You can also specify a date but it will be ignored, except when you use a time zone name that involves a daylight-savings rule, such as America/New_York. In this case specifying the date is required in order to determine whether standard or daylight-savings time applies. The appropriate time zone offset is recorded in the time with time zone value and is output as stored; it is not adjusted to the active time zone.

Table 8.11. Time Input

04:05:06.789ISO 8601
04:05:06ISO 8601
04:05ISO 8601
040506ISO 8601
04:05 AMsame as 04:05; AM does not affect value
04:05 PMsame as 16:05; input hour must be <= 12
04:05:06.789-8ISO 8601, with time zone as UTC offset
04:05:06-08:00ISO 8601, with time zone as UTC offset
04:05-08:00ISO 8601, with time zone as UTC offset
040506-08ISO 8601, with time zone as UTC offset
040506+0730ISO 8601, with fractional-hour time zone as UTC offset
040506+07:30:00UTC offset specified to seconds (not allowed in ISO 8601)
04:05:06 PSTtime zone specified by abbreviation
2003-04-12 04:05:06 America/New_Yorktime zone specified by full name

Table 8.12. Time Zone Input

PSTAbbreviation (for Pacific Standard Time)
America/New_YorkFull time zone name
PST8PDTPOSIX-style time zone specification
-8:00:00UTC offset for PST
-8:00UTC offset for PST (ISO 8601 extended format)
-800UTC offset for PST (ISO 8601 basic format)
-8UTC offset for PST (ISO 8601 basic format)
zuluMilitary abbreviation for UTC
zShort form of zulu (also in ISO 8601)

Refer to Section 8.5.3 for more information on how to specify time zones. Time Stamps #

Valid input for the time stamp types consists of the concatenation of a date and a time, followed by an optional time zone, followed by an optional AD or BC. (Alternatively, AD/BC can appear before the time zone, but this is not the preferred ordering.) Thus:

1999-01-08 04:05:06


1999-01-08 04:05:06 -8:00

are valid values, which follow the ISO 8601 standard. In addition, the common format:

January 8 04:05:06 1999 PST

is supported.

The SQL standard differentiates timestamp without time zone and timestamp with time zone literals by the presence of a + or - symbol and time zone offset after the time. Hence, according to the standard,

TIMESTAMP '2004-10-19 10:23:54'

is a timestamp without time zone, while

TIMESTAMP '2004-10-19 10:23:54+02'

is a timestamp with time zone. PostgreSQL never examines the content of a literal string before determining its type, and therefore will treat both of the above as timestamp without time zone. To ensure that a literal is treated as timestamp with time zone, give it the correct explicit type:

TIMESTAMP WITH TIME ZONE '2004-10-19 10:23:54+02'

In a literal that has been determined to be timestamp without time zone, PostgreSQL will silently ignore any time zone indication. That is, the resulting value is derived from the date/time fields in the input value, and is not adjusted for time zone.

For timestamp with time zone, the internally stored value is always in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time, traditionally known as Greenwich Mean Time, GMT). An input value that has an explicit time zone specified is converted to UTC using the appropriate offset for that time zone. If no time zone is stated in the input string, then it is assumed to be in the time zone indicated by the system's TimeZone parameter, and is converted to UTC using the offset for the timezone zone.

When a timestamp with time zone value is output, it is always converted from UTC to the current timezone zone, and displayed as local time in that zone. To see the time in another time zone, either change timezone or use the AT TIME ZONE construct (see Section 9.9.4).

Conversions between timestamp without time zone and timestamp with time zone normally assume that the timestamp without time zone value should be taken or given as timezone local time. A different time zone can be specified for the conversion using AT TIME ZONE. Special Values #

PostgreSQL supports several special date/time input values for convenience, as shown in Table 8.13. The values infinity and -infinity are specially represented inside the system and will be displayed unchanged; but the others are simply notational shorthands that will be converted to ordinary date/time values when read. (In particular, now and related strings are converted to a specific time value as soon as they are read.) All of these values need to be enclosed in single quotes when used as constants in SQL commands.

Table 8.13. Special Date/Time Inputs

Input StringValid TypesDescription
epochdate, timestamp1970-01-01 00:00:00+00 (Unix system time zero)
infinitydate, timestamplater than all other time stamps
-infinitydate, timestampearlier than all other time stamps
nowdate, time, timestampcurrent transaction's start time
todaydate, timestampmidnight (00:00) today
tomorrowdate, timestampmidnight (00:00) tomorrow
yesterdaydate, timestampmidnight (00:00) yesterday
allballstime00:00:00.00 UTC

The following SQL-compatible functions can also be used to obtain the current time value for the corresponding data type: CURRENT_DATE, CURRENT_TIME, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP, LOCALTIME, LOCALTIMESTAMP. (See Section 9.9.5.) Note that these are SQL functions and are not recognized in data input strings.


While the input strings now, today, tomorrow, and yesterday are fine to use in interactive SQL commands, they can have surprising behavior when the command is saved to be executed later, for example in prepared statements, views, and function definitions. The string can be converted to a specific time value that continues to be used long after it becomes stale. Use one of the SQL functions instead in such contexts. For example, CURRENT_DATE + 1 is safer than 'tomorrow'::date.

8.5.2. Date/Time Output #

The output format of the date/time types can be set to one of the four styles ISO 8601, SQL (Ingres), traditional POSTGRES (Unix date format), or German. The default is the ISO format. (The SQL standard requires the use of the ISO 8601 format. The name of the SQL output format is a historical accident.) Table 8.14 shows examples of each output style. The output of the date and time types is generally only the date or time part in accordance with the given examples. However, the POSTGRES style outputs date-only values in ISO format.

Table 8.14. Date/Time Output Styles

Style SpecificationDescriptionExample
ISOISO 8601, SQL standard1997-12-17 07:37:16-08
SQLtraditional style12/17/1997 07:37:16.00 PST
Postgresoriginal styleWed Dec 17 07:37:16 1997 PST
Germanregional style17.12.1997 07:37:16.00 PST


ISO 8601 specifies the use of uppercase letter T to separate the date and time. PostgreSQL accepts that format on input, but on output it uses a space rather than T, as shown above. This is for readability and for consistency with RFC 3339 as well as some other database systems.

In the SQL and POSTGRES styles, day appears before month if DMY field ordering has been specified, otherwise month appears before day. (See Section 8.5.1 for how this setting also affects interpretation of input values.) Table 8.15 shows examples.

Table 8.15. Date Order Conventions

datestyle SettingInput OrderingExample Output
SQL, DMYday/month/year17/12/1997 15:37:16.00 CET
SQL, MDYmonth/day/year12/17/1997 07:37:16.00 PST
Postgres, DMYday/month/yearWed 17 Dec 07:37:16 1997 PST

In the ISO style, the time zone is always shown as a signed numeric offset from UTC, with positive sign used for zones east of Greenwich. The offset will be shown as hh (hours only) if it is an integral number of hours, else as hh:mm if it is an integral number of minutes, else as hh:mm:ss. (The third case is not possible with any modern time zone standard, but it can appear when working with timestamps that predate the adoption of standardized time zones.) In the other date styles, the time zone is shown as an alphabetic abbreviation if one is in common use in the current zone. Otherwise it appears as a signed numeric offset in ISO 8601 basic format (hh or hhmm).

The date/time style can be selected by the user using the SET datestyle command, the DateStyle parameter in the postgresql.conf configuration file, or the PGDATESTYLE environment variable on the server or client.

The formatting function to_char (see Section 9.8) is also available as a more flexible way to format date/time output.

8.5.3. Time Zones #

Time zones, and time-zone conventions, are influenced by political decisions, not just earth geometry. Time zones around the world became somewhat standardized during the 1900s, but continue to be prone to arbitrary changes, particularly with respect to daylight-savings rules. PostgreSQL uses the widely-used IANA (Olson) time zone database for information about historical time zone rules. For times in the future, the assumption is that the latest known rules for a given time zone will continue to be observed indefinitely far into the future.

PostgreSQL endeavors to be compatible with the SQL standard definitions for typical usage. However, the SQL standard has an odd mix of date and time types and capabilities. Two obvious problems are:

  • Although the date type cannot have an associated time zone, the time type can. Time zones in the real world have little meaning unless associated with a date as well as a time, since the offset can vary through the year with daylight-saving time boundaries.

  • The default time zone is specified as a constant numeric offset from UTC. It is therefore impossible to adapt to daylight-saving time when doing date/time arithmetic across DST boundaries.

To address these difficulties, we recommend using date/time types that contain both date and time when using time zones. We do not recommend using the type time with time zone (though it is supported by PostgreSQL for legacy applications and for compliance with the SQL standard). PostgreSQL assumes your local time zone for any type containing only date or time.

All timezone-aware dates and times are stored internally in UTC. They are converted to local time in the zone specified by the TimeZone configuration parameter before being displayed to the client.

PostgreSQL allows you to specify time zones in three different forms:

  • A full time zone name, for example America/New_York. The recognized time zone names are listed in the pg_timezone_names view (see Section 54.32). PostgreSQL uses the widely-used IANA time zone data for this purpose, so the same time zone names are also recognized by other software.

  • A time zone abbreviation, for example PST. Such a specification merely defines a particular offset from UTC, in contrast to full time zone names which can imply a set of daylight savings transition rules as well. The recognized abbreviations are listed in the pg_timezone_abbrevs view (see Section 54.31). You cannot set the configuration parameters TimeZone or log_timezone to a time zone abbreviation, but you can use abbreviations in date/time input values and with the AT TIME ZONE operator.

  • In addition to the timezone names and abbreviations, PostgreSQL will accept POSIX-style time zone specifications, as described in Section B.5. This option is not normally preferable to using a named time zone, but it may be necessary if no suitable IANA time zone entry is available.

In short, this is the difference between abbreviations and full names: abbreviations represent a specific offset from UTC, whereas many of the full names imply a local daylight-savings time rule, and so have two possible UTC offsets. As an example, 2014-06-04 12:00 America/New_York represents noon local time in New York, which for this particular date was Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4). So 2014-06-04 12:00 EDT specifies that same time instant. But 2014-06-04 12:00 EST specifies noon Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5), regardless of whether daylight savings was nominally in effect on that date.

To complicate matters, some jurisdictions have used the same timezone abbreviation to mean different UTC offsets at different times; for example, in Moscow MSK has meant UTC+3 in some years and UTC+4 in others. PostgreSQL interprets such abbreviations according to whatever they meant (or had most recently meant) on the specified date; but, as with the EST example above, this is not necessarily the same as local civil time on that date.

In all cases, timezone names and abbreviations are recognized case-insensitively. (This is a change from PostgreSQL versions prior to 8.2, which were case-sensitive in some contexts but not others.)

Neither timezone names nor abbreviations are hard-wired into the server; they are obtained from configuration files stored under .../share/timezone/ and .../share/timezonesets/ of the installation directory (see Section B.4).

The TimeZone configuration parameter can be set in the file postgresql.conf, or in any of the other standard ways described in Chapter 20. There are also some special ways to set it:

  • The SQL command SET TIME ZONE sets the time zone for the session. This is an alternative spelling of SET TIMEZONE TO with a more SQL-spec-compatible syntax.

  • The PGTZ environment variable is used by libpq clients to send a SET TIME ZONE command to the server upon connection.

8.5.4. Interval Input #

interval values can be written using the following verbose syntax:

[@] quantity unit [quantity unit...] [direction]

where quantity is a number (possibly signed); unit is microsecond, millisecond, second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade, century, millennium, or abbreviations or plurals of these units; direction can be ago or empty. The at sign (@) is optional noise. The amounts of the different units are implicitly added with appropriate sign accounting. ago negates all the fields. This syntax is also used for interval output, if IntervalStyle is set to postgres_verbose.

Quantities of days, hours, minutes, and seconds can be specified without explicit unit markings. For example, '1 12:59:10' is read the same as '1 day 12 hours 59 min 10 sec'. Also, a combination of years and months can be specified with a dash; for example '200-10' is read the same as '200 years 10 months'. (These shorter forms are in fact the only ones allowed by the SQL standard, and are used for output when IntervalStyle is set to sql_standard.)

Interval values can also be written as ISO 8601 time intervals, using either the format with designators of the standard's section or the alternative format of section The format with designators looks like this:

P quantity unit [ quantity unit ...] [ T [ quantity unit ...]]

The string must start with a P, and may include a T that introduces the time-of-day units. The available unit abbreviations are given in Table 8.16. Units may be omitted, and may be specified in any order, but units smaller than a day must appear after T. In particular, the meaning of M depends on whether it is before or after T.

Table 8.16. ISO 8601 Interval Unit Abbreviations

MMonths (in the date part)
MMinutes (in the time part)

In the alternative format:

P [ years-months-days ] [ T hours:minutes:seconds ]

the string must begin with P, and a T separates the date and time parts of the interval. The values are given as numbers similar to ISO 8601 dates.

When writing an interval constant with a fields specification, or when assigning a string to an interval column that was defined with a fields specification, the interpretation of unmarked quantities depends on the fields. For example INTERVAL '1' YEAR is read as 1 year, whereas INTERVAL '1' means 1 second. Also, field values to the right of the least significant field allowed by the fields specification are silently discarded. For example, writing INTERVAL '1 day 2:03:04' HOUR TO MINUTE results in dropping the seconds field, but not the day field.

According to the SQL standard all fields of an interval value must have the same sign, so a leading negative sign applies to all fields; for example the negative sign in the interval literal '-1 2:03:04' applies to both the days and hour/minute/second parts. PostgreSQL allows the fields to have different signs, and traditionally treats each field in the textual representation as independently signed, so that the hour/minute/second part is considered positive in this example. If IntervalStyle is set to sql_standard then a leading sign is considered to apply to all fields (but only if no additional signs appear). Otherwise the traditional PostgreSQL interpretation is used. To avoid ambiguity, it's recommended to attach an explicit sign to each field if any field is negative.

Internally, interval values are stored as three integral fields: months, days, and microseconds. These fields are kept separate because the number of days in a month varies, while a day can have 23 or 25 hours if a daylight savings time transition is involved. An interval input string that uses other units is normalized into this format, and then reconstructed in a standardized way for output, for example:

SELECT '2 years 15 months 100 weeks 99 hours 123456789 milliseconds'::interval;
 3 years 3 mons 700 days 133:17:36.789

Here weeks, which are understood as 7 days, have been kept separate, while the smaller and larger time units were combined and normalized.

Input field values can have fractional parts, for example '1.5 weeks' or '01:02:03.45'. However, because interval internally stores only integral fields, fractional values must be converted into smaller units. Fractional parts of units greater than months are rounded to be an integer number of months, e.g. '1.5 years' becomes '1 year 6 mons'. Fractional parts of weeks and days are computed to be an integer number of days and microseconds, assuming 30 days per month and 24 hours per day, e.g., '1.75 months' becomes 1 mon 22 days 12:00:00. Only seconds will ever be shown as fractional on output.

Table 8.17 shows some examples of valid interval input.

Table 8.17. Interval Input

1-2SQL standard format: 1 year 2 months
3 4:05:06SQL standard format: 3 days 4 hours 5 minutes 6 seconds
1 year 2 months 3 days 4 hours 5 minutes 6 secondsTraditional Postgres format: 1 year 2 months 3 days 4 hours 5 minutes 6 seconds
P1Y2M3DT4H5M6SISO 8601 format with designators: same meaning as above
P0001-02-03T04:05:06ISO 8601 alternative format: same meaning as above

8.5.5. Interval Output #

As previously explained, PostgreSQL stores interval values as months, days, and microseconds. For output, the months field is converted to years and months by dividing by 12. The days field is shown as-is. The microseconds field is converted to hours, minutes, seconds, and fractional seconds. Thus months, minutes, and seconds will never be shown as exceeding the ranges 0–11, 0–59, and 0–59 respectively, while the displayed years, days, and hours fields can be quite large. (The justify_days and justify_hours functions can be used if it is desirable to transpose large days or hours values into the next higher field.)

The output format of the interval type can be set to one of the four styles sql_standard, postgres, postgres_verbose, or iso_8601, using the command SET intervalstyle. The default is the postgres format. Table 8.18 shows examples of each output style.

The sql_standard style produces output that conforms to the SQL standard's specification for interval literal strings, if the interval value meets the standard's restrictions (either year-month only or day-time only, with no mixing of positive and negative components). Otherwise the output looks like a standard year-month literal string followed by a day-time literal string, with explicit signs added to disambiguate mixed-sign intervals.

The output of the postgres style matches the output of PostgreSQL releases prior to 8.4 when the DateStyle parameter was set to ISO.

The output of the postgres_verbose style matches the output of PostgreSQL releases prior to 8.4 when the DateStyle parameter was set to non-ISO output.

The output of the iso_8601 style matches the format with designators described in section of the ISO 8601 standard.

Table 8.18. Interval Output Style Examples

Style SpecificationYear-Month IntervalDay-Time IntervalMixed Interval
sql_standard1-23 4:05:06-1-2 +3 -4:05:06
postgres1 year 2 mons3 days 04:05:06-1 year -2 mons +3 days -04:05:06
postgres_verbose@ 1 year 2 mons@ 3 days 4 hours 5 mins 6 secs@ 1 year 2 mons -3 days 4 hours 5 mins 6 secs ago