(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7)

dateFormat a local time/date


date ( string $format [, int $timestamp = time() ] ) : string

Returns a string formatted according to the given format string using the given integer timestamp or the current time if no timestamp is given. In other words, timestamp is optional and defaults to the value of time().



Format accepted by DateTimeInterface::format().


The optional timestamp parameter is an integer Unix timestamp that defaults to the current local time if a timestamp is not given. In other words, it defaults to the value of time().

Return Values

Returns a formatted date string. If a non-numeric value is used for timestamp, FALSE is returned and an E_WARNING level error is emitted.


Every call to a date/time function will generate a E_NOTICE if the time zone is not valid, and/or a E_STRICT or E_WARNING message if using the system settings or the TZ environment variable. See also date_default_timezone_set()


Version Description
5.1.1 There are useful constants of standard date/time formats that can be used to specify the format parameter.
5.1.0 The valid range of a timestamp is typically from Fri, 13 Dec 1901 20:45:54 GMT to Tue, 19 Jan 2038 03:14:07 GMT. (These are the dates that correspond to the minimum and maximum values for a 32-bit signed integer). However, before PHP 5.1.0 this range was limited from 01-01-1970 to 19-01-2038 on some systems (e.g. Windows).

Now issues the E_STRICT and E_NOTICE time zone errors.


Example #1 date() examples

// set the default timezone to use. Available since PHP 5.1

// Prints something like: Monday
echo date("l");

// Prints something like: Monday 8th of August 2005 03:12:46 PM
echo date('l jS \of F Y h:i:s A');

// Prints: July 1, 2000 is on a Saturday
echo "July 1, 2000 is on a " date("l"mktime(000712000));

/* use the constants in the format parameter */
// prints something like: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 15:28:57 -0700
echo date(DATE_RFC2822);

// prints something like: 2000-07-01T00:00:00+00:00
echo date(DATE_ATOMmktime(000712000));

You can prevent a recognized character in the format string from being expanded by escaping it with a preceding backslash. If the character with a backslash is already a special sequence, you may need to also escape the backslash.

Example #2 Escaping characters in date()

// prints something like: Wednesday the 15th
echo date('l \t\h\e jS');

It is possible to use date() and mktime() together to find dates in the future or the past.

Example #3 date() and mktime() example

mktime(000date("m")  , date("d")+1date("Y"));
$lastmonth mktime(000date("m")-1date("d"),   date("Y"));
$nextyear  mktime(000date("m"),   date("d"),   date("Y")+1);


This can be more reliable than simply adding or subtracting the number of seconds in a day or month to a timestamp because of daylight saving time.

Some examples of date() formatting. Note that you should escape any other characters, as any which currently have a special meaning will produce undesirable results, and other characters may be assigned meaning in future PHP versions. When escaping, be sure to use single quotes to prevent characters like \n from becoming newlines.

Example #4 date() Formatting

// Assuming today is March 10th, 2001, 5:16:18 pm, and that we are in the
// Mountain Standard Time (MST) Time Zone

$today date("F j, Y, g:i a");                 // March 10, 2001, 5:16 pm
$today date("m.d.y");                         // 03.10.01
$today date("j, n, Y");                       // 10, 3, 2001
$today date("Ymd");                           // 20010310
$today date('h-i-s, j-m-y, it is w Day');     // 05-16-18, 10-03-01, 1631 1618 6 Satpm01
$today date('\i\t \i\s \t\h\e jS \d\a\y.');   // it is the 10th day.
$today date("D M j G:i:s T Y");               // Sat Mar 10 17:16:18 MST 2001
$today date('H:m:s \m \i\s\ \m\o\n\t\h');     // 17:03:18 m is month
$today date("H:i:s");                         // 17:16:18
$today date("Y-m-d H:i:s");                   // 2001-03-10 17:16:18 (the MySQL DATETIME format)

To format dates in other languages, you should use the setlocale() and strftime() functions instead of date().



To generate a timestamp from a string representation of the date, you may be able to use strtotime(). Additionally, some databases have functions to convert their date formats into timestamps (such as MySQL's » UNIX_TIMESTAMP function).


Timestamp of the start of the request is available in $_SERVER['REQUEST_TIME'] since PHP 5.1.

See Also