ISO 8601-2004 is an ISO standard describing Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times is an international standard covering the exchange of date and time-related data.


ISO 8601-2004 prescribes, as a minimum, a four-digit year [YYYY] to avoid the year 2000 problem. It therefore represents years from 0000 to 9999, year 0000 being equal to 1 BC and all others AD. However, years prior to 1583 are not automatically allowed by the standard. Instead "values in the range [0000] through [1582] shall only be used by mutual agreement of the partners in information interchange."

To represent years before 0000 or after 9999, the standard also permits the expansion of the year representation but only by prior agreement between the sender and the receiver. An expanded year representation [±YYYYY] must have an agreed-upon number of extra year digits beyond the four-digit minimum, and it must be prefixed with a + or − sign instead of the more common AD/BC (or BCE/CE) notation; by convention 1 BC is labelled +0000, 2 BC is labeled -0001, and so on.

Calendar dates#

Calendar date representations are in the form shown in the box to the right. [YYYY] indicates a four-digit year, 0000 through 9999. [MM] indicates a two-digit month of the year, 01 through 12. [DD] indicates a two-digit day of that month, 01 through 31. For example, "5 April 1981" may be represented as either "1981-04-05" in the extended format or "19810405" in the basic format.

The standard also allows for calendar dates to be written with reduced precision. For example, one may write "1981-04" to mean "1981 April", and one may simply write "1981" to refer to that year or "19" to refer to the century from 1900 to 1999 inclusive. Although the standard allows both the YYYY-MM-DD and YYYYMMDD formats for complete calendar date representations, if the day [DD] is omitted then only the YYYY-MM format is allowed. By disallowing dates of the form YYYYMM, the standard avoids confusion with the truncated representation YYMMDD (still often used).

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« This page (revision-3) was last changed on 04-Dec-2015 13:50 by jim