Given a DateTime object, how do I get an ISO 8601 date in string format?

Given:

DateTime.UtcNow

How do I get a string which represents the same value in an ISO 8601-compliant format?

Note that ISO 8601 defines a number of similar formats. The specific format I am looking for is:

yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssZ

Note to readers: Several commenters have pointed out some problems in this answer (related particularly to the first suggestion). Refer to the comments section for more information.

DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH\:mm\:ss.fffffffzzz");

This gives you a date similar to 2008-09-22T13:57:31.2311892-04:00.

Another way is:

DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("o");

which gives you 2008-09-22T14:01:54.9571247Z

To get the specified format, you can use:

DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssZ")

DateTime Formatting Options

DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("s", System.Globalization.CultureInfo.InvariantCulture) should give you what you are looking for as the “s” format specifier is described as a sortable date/time pattern; conforms to ISO 8601.

EDIT: To get the additional Z at the end as the OP requires, use "o" instead of "s".

DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("s")

Returns something like 2008-04-10T06:30:00

UtcNow obviously returns a UTC time so there is no harm in:

string.Concat(DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("s"), "Z")

Use:

private void TimeFormats()
{
    DateTime localTime = DateTime.Now;
    DateTime utcTime = DateTime.UtcNow;
    DateTimeOffset localTimeAndOffset = new DateTimeOffset(localTime, TimeZoneInfo.Local.GetUtcOffset(localTime));

    //UTC
    string strUtcTime_o = utcTime.ToString("o");
    string strUtcTime_s = utcTime.ToString("s");
    string strUtcTime_custom = utcTime.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK");

    //Local
    string strLocalTimeAndOffset_o = localTimeAndOffset.ToString("o");
    string strLocalTimeAndOffset_s = localTimeAndOffset.ToString("s");
    string strLocalTimeAndOffset_custom = utcTime.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK");

    //Output
    Response.Write("<br/>UTC<br/>");
    Response.Write("strUtcTime_o: " + strUtcTime_o + "<br/>");
    Response.Write("strUtcTime_s: " + strUtcTime_s + "<br/>");
    Response.Write("strUtcTime_custom: " + strUtcTime_custom + "<br/>");

    Response.Write("<br/>Local Time<br/>");
    Response.Write("strLocalTimeAndOffset_o: " + strLocalTimeAndOffset_o + "<br/>");
    Response.Write("strLocalTimeAndOffset_s: " + strLocalTimeAndOffset_s + "<br/>");
    Response.Write("strLocalTimeAndOffset_custom: " + strLocalTimeAndOffset_custom + "<br/>");

}

OUTPUT

UTC
    strUtcTime_o: 2012-09-17T22:02:51.4021600Z
    strUtcTime_s: 2012-09-17T22:02:51
    strUtcTime_custom: 2012-09-17T22:02:51Z

Local Time
    strLocalTimeAndOffset_o: 2012-09-17T15:02:51.4021600-07:00
    strLocalTimeAndOffset_s: 2012-09-17T15:02:51
    strLocalTimeAndOffset_custom: 2012-09-17T22:02:51Z

Sources:

System.DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("o")

=>

val it : string = "2013-10-13T13:03:50.2950037Z"

You have a few options including the “Round-trip (“O”) format specifier”.

var date1 = new DateTime(2008, 3, 1, 7, 0, 0);
Console.WriteLine(date1.ToString("O"));
Console.WriteLine(date1.ToString("s", System.Globalization.CultureInfo.InvariantCulture));

Output

2008-03-01T07:00:00.0000000
2008-03-01T07:00:00

However, DateTime + TimeZone may present other problems as described in the blog post DateTime and DateTimeOffset in .NET: Good practices and common pitfalls:

DateTime has countless traps in it that are designed to give your code bugs:

1.- DateTime values with DateTimeKind.Unspecified are bad news.

2.- DateTime doesn’t care about UTC/Local when doing comparisons.

3.- DateTime values are not aware of standard format strings.

4.- Parsing a string that has a UTC marker with DateTime does not guarantee a UTC time.

Surprised that no one suggested it:

System.DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("u").Replace(' ','T')
# Using PowerShell Core to demo

# Lowercase "u" format
[System.DateTime]::UtcNow.ToString("u")
> 2020-02-06 01:00:32Z

# Lowercase "u" format with replacement
[System.DateTime]::UtcNow.ToString("u").Replace(' ','T')
> 2020-02-06T01:00:32Z

The UniversalSortableDateTimePattern gets you almost all the way to what you want (which is more an RFC 3339 representation).


Added:
I decided to use the benchmarks that were in answer https://stackoverflow.com/a/43793679/653058 to compare how this performs.

tl:dr; it’s at the expensive end but still just a little over half a millisecond on my crappy old laptop 🙂

Implementation:

[Benchmark]
public string ReplaceU()
{
   var text = dateTime.ToUniversalTime().ToString("u").Replace(' ', 'T');
   return text;
}

Results:

// * Summary *

BenchmarkDotNet=v0.11.5, OS=Windows 10.0.19002
Intel Xeon CPU E3-1245 v3 3.40GHz, 1 CPU, 8 logical and 4 physical cores
.NET Core SDK=3.0.100
  [Host]     : .NET Core 3.0.0 (CoreCLR 4.700.19.46205, CoreFX 4.700.19.46214), 64bit RyuJIT
  DefaultJob : .NET Core 3.0.0 (CoreCLR 4.700.19.46205, CoreFX 4.700.19.46214), 64bit RyuJIT


|               Method |     Mean |     Error |    StdDev |
|--------------------- |---------:|----------:|----------:|
|           CustomDev1 | 562.4 ns | 11.135 ns | 10.936 ns |
|           CustomDev2 | 525.3 ns |  3.322 ns |  3.107 ns |
|     CustomDev2WithMS | 609.9 ns |  9.427 ns |  8.356 ns |
|              FormatO | 356.6 ns |  6.008 ns |  5.620 ns |
|              FormatS | 589.3 ns |  7.012 ns |  6.216 ns |
|       FormatS_Verify | 599.8 ns | 12.054 ns | 11.275 ns |
|        CustomFormatK | 549.3 ns |  4.911 ns |  4.594 ns |
| CustomFormatK_Verify | 539.9 ns |  2.917 ns |  2.436 ns |
|             ReplaceU | 615.5 ns | 12.313 ns | 11.517 ns |

// * Hints *
Outliers
  BenchmarkDateTimeFormat.CustomDev2WithMS: Default     -> 1 outlier  was  removed (668.16 ns)
  BenchmarkDateTimeFormat.FormatS: Default              -> 1 outlier  was  removed (621.28 ns)
  BenchmarkDateTimeFormat.CustomFormatK: Default        -> 1 outlier  was  detected (542.55 ns)
  BenchmarkDateTimeFormat.CustomFormatK_Verify: Default -> 2 outliers were removed (557.07 ns, 560.95 ns)

// * Legends *
  Mean   : Arithmetic mean of all measurements
  Error  : Half of 99.9% confidence interval
  StdDev : Standard deviation of all measurements
  1 ns   : 1 Nanosecond (0.000000001 sec)

// ***** BenchmarkRunner: End *****

You can get the “Z” (ISO 8601 UTC) with the next code:

Dim tmpDate As DateTime = New DateTime(Now.Ticks, DateTimeKind.Utc)
Dim res as String = tmpDate.toString("o") '2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000Z

Here is why:

The ISO 8601 have some different formats:

DateTimeKind.Local

2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000-07:00

DateTimeKind.Utc

2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000Z

DateTimeKind.Unspecified

2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000

.NET provides us with an enum with those options:

'2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000-07:00
Dim strTmp1 As String = New DateTime(Now.Ticks, DateTimeKind.Local).ToString("o")

'2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000Z
Dim strTmp2 As String = New DateTime(Now.Ticks, DateTimeKind.Utc).ToString("o")

'2009-06-15T13:45:30.0000000
Dim strTmp3 As String = New DateTime(Now.Ticks, DateTimeKind.Unspecified).ToString("o")

Note: If you apply the Visual Studio 2008 “watch utility” to the toString(“o”) part you may get different results, I don’t know if it’s a bug, but in this case you have better results using a String variable if you’re debugging.

Source: Standard Date and Time Format Strings (MSDN)

Most of these answers have milliseconds / microseconds which clearly isn’t supported by ISO 8601. The correct answer would be:

System.DateTime.Now.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK");
// or
System.DateTime.Now.ToUniversalTime().ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK");

References:

I would just use XmlConvert:

XmlConvert.ToString(DateTime.UtcNow, XmlDateTimeSerializationMode.RoundtripKind);

It will automatically preserve the time zone.

DateTime.Now.ToString("yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss zzz");

DateTime.Now.ToString("O");

NOTE: Depending on the conversion you are doing on your end, you will be using the first line (most like it) or the second one.

Make sure to applied format only at local time, since “zzz” is the time zone information for UTC conversion.

image

The "s" standard format specifier represents a custom date and time format string that is defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.SortableDateTimePattern property. The pattern reflects a defined standard (ISO 8601), and the property is read-only. Therefore, it is always the same, regardless of the culture used or the format provider supplied. The custom format string is "yyyy'-'MM'-'dd'T'HH':'mm':'ss".

When this standard format specifier is used, the formatting or parsing operation always uses the invariant culture.

– from MSDN

To convert DateTime.UtcNow to a string representation of yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssZ, you can use the ToString() method of the DateTime structure with a custom formatting string. When using custom format strings with a DateTime, it is important to remember that you need to escape your seperators using single quotes.

The following will return the string represention you wanted:

DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("yyyy'-'MM'-'dd'T'HH':'mm':'ss'Z'", DateTimeFormatInfo.InvariantInfo)

It is interesting that custom format “yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK” (without ms) is the quickest format method.

Also it is interesting that “S” format is slow on Classic and fast on Core…

Of course numbers are very close, between some rows difference is insignificant (tests with suffix _Verify are the same as those that are without that suffix, demonstrates results repeatability)

BenchmarkDotNet=v0.10.5, OS=Windows 10.0.14393
Processor=Intel Core i5-2500K CPU 3.30GHz (Sandy Bridge), ProcessorCount=4
Frequency=3233539 Hz, Resolution=309.2587 ns, Timer=TSC
  [Host] : Clr 4.0.30319.42000, 64bit RyuJIT-v4.6.1637.0
  Clr    : Clr 4.0.30319.42000, 64bit RyuJIT-v4.6.1637.0
  Core   : .NET Core 4.6.25009.03, 64bit RyuJIT


               Method |  Job | Runtime |       Mean |     Error |    StdDev |     Median |        Min |        Max | Rank |  Gen 0 | Allocated |
--------------------- |----- |-------- |-----------:|----------:|----------:|-----------:|-----------:|-----------:|-----:|-------:|----------:|
           CustomDev1 |  Clr |     Clr | 1,089.0 ns | 22.179 ns | 20.746 ns | 1,079.9 ns | 1,068.9 ns | 1,133.2 ns |    8 | 0.1086 |     424 B |
           CustomDev2 |  Clr |     Clr | 1,032.3 ns | 19.897 ns | 21.289 ns | 1,024.7 ns | 1,000.3 ns | 1,072.0 ns |    7 | 0.1165 |     424 B |
     CustomDev2WithMS |  Clr |     Clr | 1,168.2 ns | 16.543 ns | 15.474 ns | 1,168.5 ns | 1,149.3 ns | 1,189.2 ns |   10 | 0.1625 |     592 B |
              FormatO |  Clr |     Clr | 1,563.7 ns | 31.244 ns | 54.721 ns | 1,532.5 ns | 1,497.8 ns | 1,703.5 ns |   14 | 0.2897 |     976 B |
              FormatS |  Clr |     Clr | 1,243.5 ns | 24.615 ns | 31.130 ns | 1,229.3 ns | 1,200.6 ns | 1,324.2 ns |   13 | 0.2865 |     984 B |
       FormatS_Verify |  Clr |     Clr | 1,217.6 ns | 11.486 ns | 10.744 ns | 1,216.2 ns | 1,205.5 ns | 1,244.3 ns |   12 | 0.2885 |     984 B |
        CustomFormatK |  Clr |     Clr |   912.2 ns | 17.915 ns | 18.398 ns |   916.6 ns |   878.3 ns |   934.1 ns |    4 | 0.0629 |     240 B |
 CustomFormatK_Verify |  Clr |     Clr |   894.0 ns |  3.877 ns |  3.626 ns |   893.8 ns |   885.1 ns |   900.0 ns |    3 | 0.0636 |     240 B |
           CustomDev1 | Core |    Core |   989.1 ns | 12.550 ns | 11.739 ns |   983.8 ns |   976.8 ns | 1,015.5 ns |    6 | 0.1101 |     423 B |
           CustomDev2 | Core |    Core |   964.3 ns | 18.826 ns | 23.809 ns |   954.1 ns |   935.5 ns | 1,015.6 ns |    5 | 0.1267 |     423 B |
     CustomDev2WithMS | Core |    Core | 1,136.0 ns | 21.914 ns | 27.714 ns | 1,138.1 ns | 1,099.9 ns | 1,200.2 ns |    9 | 0.1752 |     590 B |
              FormatO | Core |    Core | 1,201.5 ns | 16.262 ns | 15.211 ns | 1,202.3 ns | 1,178.2 ns | 1,225.5 ns |   11 | 0.0656 |     271 B |
              FormatS | Core |    Core |   993.5 ns | 19.272 ns | 24.372 ns |   999.4 ns |   954.2 ns | 1,029.5 ns |    6 | 0.0633 |     279 B |
       FormatS_Verify | Core |    Core | 1,003.1 ns | 17.577 ns | 16.442 ns | 1,009.2 ns |   976.1 ns | 1,024.3 ns |    6 | 0.0674 |     279 B |
        CustomFormatK | Core |    Core |   878.2 ns | 17.017 ns | 20.898 ns |   877.7 ns |   851.4 ns |   928.1 ns |    2 | 0.0555 |     215 B |
 CustomFormatK_Verify | Core |    Core |   863.6 ns |  3.968 ns |  3.712 ns |   863.0 ns |   858.6 ns |   870.8 ns |    1 | 0.0550 |     215 B |

Code:

    public class BenchmarkDateTimeFormat
    {
        public static DateTime dateTime = DateTime.Now;

        [Benchmark]
        public string CustomDev1()
        {
            var d = dateTime.ToUniversalTime();
            var sb = new StringBuilder(20);

            sb.Append(d.Year).Append("-");
            if (d.Month <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d.Month).Append("-");
            if (d.Day <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d.Day).Append("T");
            if (d.Hour <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d.Hour).Append(":");
            if (d.Minute <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d.Minute).Append(":");
            if (d.Second <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d.Second).Append("Z");
            var text = sb.ToString();
            return text;
        }

        [Benchmark]
        public string CustomDev2()
        {
            var u = dateTime.ToUniversalTime();
            var sb = new StringBuilder(20);
            var y = u.Year;
            var d = u.Day;
            var M = u.Month;
            var h = u.Hour;
            var m = u.Minute;
            var s = u.Second;
            sb.Append(y).Append("-");
            if (M <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(M).Append("-");
            if (d <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d).Append("T");
            if (h <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(h).Append(":");
            if (m <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(m).Append(":");
            if (s <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(s).Append("Z");
            var text = sb.ToString();
            return text;
        }

        [Benchmark]
        public string CustomDev2WithMS()
        {
            var u  = dateTime.ToUniversalTime();
            var sb = new StringBuilder(23);
            var y  = u.Year;
            var d  = u.Day;
            var M  = u.Month;
            var h  = u.Hour;
            var m  = u.Minute;
            var s  = u.Second;
            var ms = u.Millisecond;
            sb.Append(y).Append("-");
            if (M <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(M).Append("-");
            if (d <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(d).Append("T");
            if (h <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(h).Append(":");
            if (m <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(m).Append(":");
            if (s <= 9)
                sb.Append("0");
            sb.Append(s).Append(".");
            sb.Append(ms).Append("Z");
            var text = sb.ToString();
            return text;
        }
        [Benchmark]
        public string FormatO()
        {
            var text = dateTime.ToUniversalTime().ToString("o");
            return text;
        }
        [Benchmark]
        public string FormatS()
        {
            var text = string.Concat(dateTime.ToUniversalTime().ToString("s"),"Z");
            return text;
        }

        [Benchmark]
        public string FormatS_Verify()
        {
            var text = string.Concat(dateTime.ToUniversalTime().ToString("s"), "Z");
            return text;
        }

        [Benchmark]
        public string CustomFormatK()
        {
            var text = dateTime.ToUniversalTime().ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK");
            return text;
        }

        [Benchmark]
        public string CustomFormatK_Verify()
        {
            var text = dateTime.ToUniversalTime().ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssK");
            return text;
        }
    }

https://github.com/dotnet/BenchmarkDotNet was used

Using Newtonsoft.Json, you can do

JsonConvert.SerializeObject(DateTime.UtcNow)

Example: https://dotnetfiddle.net/O2xFSl

If you’re developing under SharePoint 2010 or higher you can use

using Microsoft.SharePoint;
using Microsoft.SharePoint.Utilities;
...
string strISODate = SPUtility.CreateISO8601DateTimeFromSystemDateTime(DateTime.Now)

To format like 2018-06-22T13:04:16 which can be passed in the URI of an API use:

public static string FormatDateTime(DateTime dateTime)
{
    return dateTime.ToString("s", System.Globalization.CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);
}

As mentioned in other answer, DateTime has issues by design.

NodaTime

I suggest to use NodaTime to manage date/time values:

  • Local time, date, datetime
  • Global time
  • Time with timezone
  • Period
  • Duration

Formatting

So, to create and format ZonedDateTime you can use the following code snippet:

var instant1 = Instant.FromUtc(2020, 06, 29, 10, 15, 22);

var utcZonedDateTime = new ZonedDateTime(instant1, DateTimeZone.Utc);
utcZonedDateTime.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss'Z'", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);
// 2020-06-29T10:15:22Z


var instant2 = Instant.FromDateTimeUtc(new DateTime(2020, 06, 29, 10, 15, 22, DateTimeKind.Utc));

var amsterdamZonedDateTime = new ZonedDateTime(instant2, DateTimeZoneProviders.Tzdb["Europe/Amsterdam"]);
amsterdamZonedDateTime.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss'Z'", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);
// 2020-06-29T12:15:22Z

For me NodaTime code looks quite verbose. But types are really useful. They help to handle date/time values correctly.

Newtonsoft.Json

To use NodaTime with Newtonsoft.Json you need to add reference to NodaTime.Serialization.JsonNet NuGet package and configure JSON options.

services
    .AddMvc()
    .AddJsonOptions(options =>
    {
        var settings=options.SerializerSettings;
        settings.DateParseHandling = DateParseHandling.None;
        settings.ConfigureForNodaTime(DateTimeZoneProviders.Tzdb);
    });

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