readr (version 1.3.1)

parse_datetime: Parse date/times


Parse date/times


parse_datetime(x, format = "", na = c("", "NA"),
  locale = default_locale(), trim_ws = TRUE)

parse_date(x, format = "", na = c("", "NA"), locale = default_locale(), trim_ws = TRUE)

parse_time(x, format = "", na = c("", "NA"), locale = default_locale(), trim_ws = TRUE)

col_datetime(format = "")

col_date(format = "")

col_time(format = "")



A character vector of dates to parse.


A format specification, as described below. If set to "", date times are parsed as ISO8601, dates and times used the date and time formats specified in the locale().

Unlike strptime(), the format specification must match the complete string.


Character vector of strings to interpret as missing values. Set this option to character() to indicate no missing values.


The locale controls defaults that vary from place to place. The default locale is US-centric (like R), but you can use locale() to create your own locale that controls things like the default time zone, encoding, decimal mark, big mark, and day/month names.


Should leading and trailing whitespace be trimmed from each field before parsing it?


A POSIXct() vector with tzone attribute set to tz. Elements that could not be parsed (or did not generate valid dates) will be set to NA, and a warning message will inform you of the total number of failures.

Format specification

readr uses a format specification similar to strptime(). There are three types of element:

  1. Date components are specified with "%" followed by a letter. For example "%Y" matches a 4 digit year, "%m", matches a 2 digit month and "%d" matches a 2 digit day. Month and day default to 1, (i.e. Jan 1st) if not present, for example if only a year is given.

  2. Whitespace is any sequence of zero or more whitespace characters.

  3. Any other character is matched exactly.

parse_datetime() recognises the following format specifications:

  • Year: "%Y" (4 digits). "%y" (2 digits); 00-69 -> 2000-2069, 70-99 -> 1970-1999.

  • Month: "%m" (2 digits), "%b" (abbreviated name in current locale), "%B" (full name in current locale).

  • Day: "%d" (2 digits), "%e" (optional leading space), "

  • Hour: "%H" or "%I", use I (and not H) with AM/PM.

  • Minutes: "%M"

  • Seconds: "%S" (integer seconds), "%OS" (partial seconds)

  • Time zone: "%Z" (as name, e.g. "America/Chicago"), "%z" (as offset from UTC, e.g. "+0800")

  • AM/PM indicator: "%p".

  • Non-digits: "%." skips one non-digit character, "%+" skips one or more non-digit characters, "%*" skips any number of non-digits characters.

  • Automatic parsers: "%AD" parses with a flexible YMD parser, "%AT" parses with a flexible HMS parser.

  • Shortcuts: "%D" = "%m/%d/%y", "%F" = "%Y-%m-%d", "%R" = "%H:%M", "%T" = "%H:%M:%S", "%x" = "%y/%m/%d".

ISO8601 support

Currently, readr does not support all of ISO8601. Missing features:

  • Week & weekday specifications, e.g. "2013-W05", "2013-W05-10"

  • Ordinal dates, e.g. "2013-095".

  • Using commas instead of a period for decimal separator

The parser is also a little laxer than ISO8601:

  • Dates and times can be separated with a space, not just T.

  • Mostly correct specifications like "2009-05-19 14:" and "200912-01" work.

See Also

Other parsers: col_skip, cols_condense, cols, parse_factor, parse_guess, parse_logical, parse_number, parse_vector


Run this code
# Format strings --------------------------------------------------------
parse_datetime("01/02/2010", "%d/%m/%Y")
parse_datetime("01/02/2010", "%m/%d/%Y")
# Handle any separator
parse_datetime("01/02/2010", "%m%.%d%.%Y")

# Dates look the same, but internally they use the number of days since
# 1970-01-01 instead of the number of seconds. This avoids a whole lot
# of troubles related to time zones, so use if you can.
parse_date("01/02/2010", "%d/%m/%Y")
parse_date("01/02/2010", "%m/%d/%Y")

# You can parse timezones from strings (as listed in OlsonNames())
parse_datetime("2010/01/01 12:00 US/Central", "%Y/%m/%d %H:%M %Z")
# Or from offsets
parse_datetime("2010/01/01 12:00 -0600", "%Y/%m/%d %H:%M %z")

# Use the locale parameter to control the default time zone
# (but note UTC is considerably faster than other options)
parse_datetime("2010/01/01 12:00", "%Y/%m/%d %H:%M",
  locale = locale(tz = "US/Central"))
parse_datetime("2010/01/01 12:00", "%Y/%m/%d %H:%M",
  locale = locale(tz = "US/Eastern"))

# Unlike strptime, the format specification must match the complete
# string (ignoring leading and trailing whitespace). This avoids common
# errors:
strptime("01/02/2010", "%d/%m/%y")
parse_datetime("01/02/2010", "%d/%m/%y")

# Failures -------------------------------------------------------------
parse_datetime("01/01/2010", "%d/%m/%Y")
parse_datetime(c("01/ab/2010", "32/01/2010"), "%d/%m/%Y")

# Locales --------------------------------------------------------------
# By default, readr expects English date/times, but that's easy to change'
parse_datetime("1 janvier 2015", "%d %B %Y", locale = locale("fr"))
parse_datetime("1 enero 2015", "%d %B %Y", locale = locale("es"))

# ISO8601 --------------------------------------------------------------
# With separators

# Without separators

# Time zones
us_central <- locale(tz = "US/Central")
parse_datetime("1979-10-14T1010", locale = us_central)
parse_datetime("1979-10-14T1010-0500", locale = us_central)
parse_datetime("1979-10-14T1010Z", locale = us_central)
# Your current time zone
parse_datetime("1979-10-14T1010", locale = locale(tz = ""))
# }

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