Time in Spain

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Time in Europe:
Light Blue
Western European Time / Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
Western European Time / Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
Western European Summer Time / British Summer Time / Irish Standard Time (UTC+1)
Central European Time (UTC+1)
Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)
Eastern European Time / Kaliningrad Time (UTC+2)
Eastern European Time (UTC+2)
Eastern European Summer Time (UTC+3)
Moscow Time / Turkey Time (UTC+3)
Armenia Time / Azerbaijan Time / Georgia Time / Samara Time (UTC+4)
#### Pale colours: Standard time observed all year
### Dark colours: Summer time observed Time zones of Europe, incl. Transcaucasia.svg
Time in Europe:
Light Blue Western European Time / Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
Blue Western European Time / Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
Western European Summer Time / British Summer Time / Irish Standard Time (UTC+1)
Red Central European Time (UTC+1)
Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)
Yellow Eastern European Time / Kaliningrad Time (UTC+2)
Ochre Eastern European Time (UTC+2)
Eastern European Summer Time (UTC+3)
Green Moscow Time / Turkey Time (UTC+3)
Turquoise Armenia Time / Azerbaijan Time / Georgia Time / Samara Time (UTC+4)
 Pale colours: Standard time observed all year
 Dark colours: Summer time observed

Spain has two time zones and observes daylight saving time. Spain mainly uses CET (UTC+01:00) and CEST (UTC+02:00) in Peninsular Spain, Ceuta, Melilla and the plazas de soberanía. In the Canary Islands, the time zone is WET (UTC±00:00) and WEST (UTC+01:00). DST is observed from the last Sunday in March (01:00 WET) to the last Sunday in October (01:00 WET) throughout Spain.


Spain used GMT (UTC±00:00) before the Second World War (except for the Canary Islands which used UTC−01:00 before this date). However, the time zone was changed to Central European Time in 1940 and has remained so since then, meaning that Spain does not use its "natural" time zone under the coordinated time zone system. Some observers believe that this time zone shift plays a role in the country's relatively unusual daily schedule (late meals and sleep times). [1]


Standard time adoption

Spain, like other parts of the world, used mean solar time until 31 December 1900. [2] In San Sebastián on 22 July 1900, the president of the Consejo de Ministros, Francisco Silvela, proposed to the regent of Spain, María Cristina, a royal decree to standardise the time in Spain; thus setting Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±00:00) as the standard time in peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands and Ceuta and Melilla from 1 January 1901 onwards. The royal decree was sanctioned by María Cristina on 26 July 1900 in San Sebastián, the place where she resided during summer.

The Canary Islands exception

Before 1 March 1922, the Canary Islands still used mean solar time until it was discovered that the royal decree of 1900 applied only to the Peninsula and Balearic Islands. [2] The Canary Islands then used a time 1 hour behind the rest of Spain; UTC−01:00, until 16 March 1940, and since then, they have used Western European Time (UTC±00:00). Canary Islands observes daylight saving time at the same time (01:00 UTC) the rest of Spain does, that is, changing from 01:00 WET to 02:00 WEST on the last Sunday in March (while the rest of Spain changes from 02:00 CET to 03:00 CEST) and, when daylight saving time ends, changing from 02:00 WEST to 01:00 WET on the last Sunday in October (while the rest of Spain changes from 03:00 CEST to 02:00 CET).

It is very popular in Spanish national media, mainly on the radio, to list the notice "una hora menos en Canarias" (English: "one hour less in the Canary Islands") [3] when the local time is mentioned.

The natural time zone for the Canary Islands is UTC−01:00.

Canary Islands are located just in the middle of UTC-01:00 time zone. Timezones2008 UTC-1.png
Canary Islands are located just in the middle of UTC−01:00 time zone.

Daylight saving time

Daylight saving time (DST) was first introduced in 1918, [4] the year in which World War I ended. It was then introduced and abolished several times. It was not applied in 1920–1923, 1925, 1930 nor during the Second Spanish Republic period in 1931–1936. During the Spanish Civil War, DST was re-established, but there were different dates of application, depending on if the territory was under the control of the Republican faction or Nationalist faction. Curiously, the Republican faction made its first attempt to change from Greenwich Mean Time to Central European Time when time was advanced 1 hour on 2 April 1938 and advanced another hour on 30 April 1938, only adjusting back 1 hour on 2 October 1938. After the war ended on 1 April 1939, Greenwich Mean Time was re-established and on 15 April 1939 DST was also applied.

Since 1974, after the 1973 oil crisis, daylight saving time has been observed every year. In 1981 it was applied as a directive and is revised every 4 years, DST is observed from the last Sunday in March (01:00 UTC) to the last Sunday in September (01:00 UTC). [4] In 1996, daylight saving time was harmonised throughout the European Union by Directive 2000/84/EC, which moved the end of DST to the last Sunday in October.

Central European Time

Difference between sun time and clock time during daylight saving time:
0h +- 30m
1h +- 30m ahead
2h +- 30m ahead
3h +- 30m ahead Tzdiff-Europe-summer.png
Difference between sun time and clock time during daylight saving time:
0h ± 30m
1h ± 30m ahead
2h ± 30m ahead
3h ± 30m ahead

In 1940, Francisco Franco changed the time zone [5] by changing 16 March 1940 23:00 Greenwich Mean Time to 17 March 1940 00:00 Central European Time during World War II. This was made permanent in 1942 in order to be in line with German-occupied Europe. [6] Several western European countries, including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands stayed on German time after the war in addition to Spain. [7]

Criticism of the use of Central European Time

A Spanish advertisement offering breakfasts until 13:00 and meriendas (tea) from 17:00 to 20:00. It shows Spain's habit of late meals. Desayunos y meriendas.jpg
A Spanish advertisement offering breakfasts until 13:00 and meriendas (tea) from 17:00 to 20:00. It shows Spain's habit of late meals.

According to the original 24-hour division of the world, the nearest mean solar time zone is Greenwich Mean Time for all of mainland Spain except the westernmost part (about three-quarters of Galicia) and the westernmost part of Extremadura and the westernmost part of Andalucía which corresponds with the UTC-01:00 time zone. However, all of mainland Spain has used Central European Time (UTC+01:00) since 1940. At the time it was considered a temporary wartime decision that would be revoked a few years later, but the revocation never happened. [8]

Some activists believe that the mismatch between Spain's clock time and solar time contributes to the country's unusual daily schedule. [9] They believe that the relatively late sunrises and sunsets shift the average Spaniard's day later than it otherwise would be, and that a return to its original time zone would help boost productivity and bring family and work rhythms into better balance. [10]

In September 2013, the subcommittee to study the Rationalisation of Hours, the Reconciliation of Personal, Family Life and Professional Life and Responsibility (subcomisión para el estudio de la Racionalización de Horarios, la Conciliación de la Vida Personal, Familiar y Laboral y la Corresponsabilidad) of the Congress of Deputies made a report to the government of Spain proposing, among other things, a return to Greenwich Mean Time. [11] [12] The subcommittee considered that this time zone change would have a favourable effect, allowing more time for family, training, personal life, leisure, and avoiding downtime during the workday. The proposals are aimed at improving Spanish labour productivity as well as better adjusting schedules to family and work life. [10] [13]

The Galicia problem

In Galicia, the westernmost region of mainland Spain, the difference between the official local time and the mean solar time is about two and a half hours during summer time. [14] There have been political pushes to change the official time so that, as in Portugal, it is one hour in advance of the zone standard time. This would involve switching to GMT and making the time similar to that in Portugal, with which it shares the same longitude. [15] For example, in Vigo (located 35 time minutes west of Greenwich) during summer, it is noon at around 14:40 and sunset is around 22:15 local time, [14] while in Menorca sunset is around 21:20. [16]

IANA time zone database

The IANA time zone database contains 3 zones for Spain. Columns marked with * are from the file zone.tab from the database.

c.c.*coordinates*TZ*comments*UTC offsetDSTNotes
ES +4024−00341 Europe/Madrid Spain (mainland) and Balearic Islands +01:00 +02:00
ES +3553−00519 Africa/Ceuta Ceuta, Melilla, plazas de soberanía +01:00 +02:00
ES +2806−01524 Atlantic/Canary Canary Islands +00:00 +01:00


Differences with neighbouring countries

Spain has borders with four countries: Portugal, France, Andorra, and Morocco; as well as with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. Clocks must normally be set one hour earlier than in Spain after crossing the borders with Portugal.

Dates of Daylight Saving Time and other changes

This is the list of historical time changes in Spain, note that the time of change is in Greenwich Mean Time.

YearDate DST startsTime zone changeDate DST endsTime zone changeNotes
1918Monday, 15 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Sunday, 6 October 23:00 UTCGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1919Sunday, 6 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 →Monday, 6 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1924Wednesday, 16 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 4 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1926Saturday, 17 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 2 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1927Saturday, 9 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 1 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1928Saturday, 14 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 6 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1929Saturday, 20 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Sunday, 6 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1937Saturday, 22 May 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 2 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00In Nationalist zone
Wednesday, 16 June 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Wednesday, 6 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00In Republican zone
1938Saturday, 26 March 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 1 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00In Nationalist zone
Saturday, 2 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00In Republican zone. Change time zone from GMT to Central European Time.
Saturday, 30 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Sunday, 2 October 22:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00In Republican zone
1939Saturday, 1 April 22:30 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00In Republican zone. End of Spanish Civil War. Change time zone from Central European Time to GMT.
Saturday, 15 April 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Saturday, 7 October 23:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT±00:00
1940Saturday, 16 March 23:00 GMTGMT±00:00 → GMT+01:00Change time zone from GMT to CET. [5]
1942Saturday, 2 May 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Tuesday, 1 September 22:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1943Saturday, 17 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Sunday, 3 October 22:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1944Saturday, 15 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 30 September 23:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1945Saturday, 14 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 29 September 23:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1946Saturday, 13 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 28 September 22:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1949Saturday, 30 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 1 October 23:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1974Saturday, 13 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 5 October 23:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1975Saturday, 12 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 4 October 22:00 GMTGMT02:00 → GMT+01:00
1976Saturday, 27 March 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 25 September 22:00 GMTGMT → GMT+01:00
1977Saturday, 2 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Saturday, 24 September 22:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1978Sunday, 2 April 22:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Sunday, 1 October 01:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1979Sunday, 1 April 01:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Sunday, 30 September 01:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1980Sunday, 6 April 01:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Sunday, 28 September 01:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1981–1995Last Sunday in March 1:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Last Sunday in September 1:00 GMTGMT+02:00 → GMT+01:00
1996–Last Sunday in March 1:00 GMTGMT+01:00 → GMT+02:00Last Sunday in October 1:00 GMTGMT+02:00 →GMT+01:00

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time zone</span> Area that observes a uniform standard time

A time zone is an area which observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries between countries and their subdivisions instead of strictly following longitude, because it is convenient for areas in frequent communication to keep the same time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Western European Summer Time</span> Time zone (UTC+01:00)

Western European Summer Time is a summer daylight saving time scheme, 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain Time Zone</span> Time zone of North America

The Mountain Time Zone of North America keeps time by subtracting seven hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when standard time (UTC−07:00) is in effect, and by subtracting six hours during daylight saving time (UTC−06:00). The clock time in this zone is based on the mean solar time at the 105th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory. In the United States, the exact specification for the location of time zones and the dividing lines between zones is set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations at 49 CFR 71.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central European Time</span> Standard time (UTC+01:00)

Central European Time (CET) is a standard time of Central, and parts of Western Europe, which is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time offset from UTC can be written as UTC+01:00. It is used in most parts of Europe and in a few North African countries. CET is also known as Middle European Time and by colloquial names such as Amsterdam Time, Berlin Time, Brussels Time, Budapest Time,Madrid Time, Paris Time, Rome Time,Prague time,Warsaw Time or Romance Standard Time (RST).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Western European Time</span> Time zone in Europe: UTC±00:00

Western European Time is a time zone covering parts of western Europe and consists of countries using UTC±00:00. It is one of the three standard time zones in the European Union along with Central European Time and Eastern European Time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in the United States</span> U.S. time zones

In the United States, time is divided into nine standard time zones covering the states, territories and other US possessions, with most of the country observing daylight saving time (DST) for approximately the spring, summer, and fall months. The time zone boundaries and DST observance are regulated by the Department of Transportation, but no single map of those existed until the agency announced intentions to make one in September 2022. Official and highly precise timekeeping services (clocks) are provided by two federal agencies: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ; and the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). The clocks run by these services are kept synchronized with each other as well as with those of other international timekeeping organizations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Summer time in Europe</span> Variation of standard clock time

Summer time in Europe is the variation of standard clock time that is applied in most European countries in the period between spring and autumn, during which clocks are advanced by one hour from the time observed in the rest of the year, with a view to making the most efficient use of seasonal daylight. It corresponds to the notion and practice of daylight saving time (DST) to be found in some other parts of the world.

Time in Chile is divided into three time zones. Most of Continental Chile uses the time offset UTC−04:00 in winter time and UTC−03:00 in summer time, while the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region uses the time offset UTC-03:00 the whole year. Additionally, Easter Island uses the time offset UTC−06:00 in winter time and UTC−05:00 in summer time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Argentina</span> Time zones used by Argentina

Argentina is located at a longitude that would naturally put it in the UTC−04:00 or UTC−05:00 time zone; however, it actually uses the UTC−03:00 time zone. Argentina determines whether to change clocks in observation of daylight saving time on a year-by-year basis, and individual provinces may opt out of the federal decision. At present, Argentina does not change clocks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UTC+00:00</span> Identifier for the UTC +0 offset

UTC+00:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of +00:00. This time zone is the basis of UTC and all other time zones are based on it. In ISO 8601, an example of the associated time would be written as 2023-01-01T12:12:34+00:00. It is also known by the following geographical or historical names:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Mexico</span> Time zones used in Mexico

Mexico uses four time zones:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Europe</span> Time zones in Europe

Europe spans seven primary time zones, excluding summer time offsets. Most European countries use summer time and harmonise their summer time adjustments; see Summer time in Europe for details.

Most of Mexico no longer observes daylight saving time as it was abolished on Sunday, 30 October 2022. The exceptions are the entire state of Baja California, as well as the border municipalities in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas which still observe daylight savings time matching the schedule of the United States beginning on the second Sunday of March and ending on the first Sunday of November.

Paraguay observes UTC−04:00 for standard time (PYT), and UTC−03:00 for daylight saving time/summer time (PYST).

Since 2004, Uruguay had usually observed daylight saving time. Starting in 2006, DST begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the second Sunday in March of every year. Time zone changed from Standard Time Zone UTC−03:00 to UTC−02:00.

Daylight saving time in the Americas is the arrangement in the Americas by which clocks are advanced by one hour in spring and moved back in autumn, to make the most of seasonal daylight. The practice is widespread in North America, with most of Canada and the United States participating, but much less so in Central and South America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daylight saving time in Africa</span>

African countries, apart from Egypt, do not use daylight saving time (DST) although some did in the past. Only the territories of the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla (Spain) and Madeira (Portugal) implement DST from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. Although these regions politically belong to Europe, they are geographically part of Africa. They have DST schedules according to European Union rules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Portugal</span> Time zones in Portugal

Portugal has two time zones and observes daylight saving time. Continental Portugal and Madeira use UTC+00:00, while the Azores use UTC–01:00. Daylight saving time is observed nationwide from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, when continental Portugal and Madeira advance one hour to UTC+01:00, and the Azores advances one hour to UTC+00:00.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daylight saving time by country</span>

Daylight saving time (DST), also known as summer time, is the practice of advancing clocks during part of the year, typically by one hour around spring and summer, so that daylight ends at a later time of the day. As of 2023, DST is observed in most of Europe, most of North America and parts of Africa and Asia around the Northern Hemisphere summer, and in parts of South America and Oceania around the Southern Hemisphere summer. It was also formerly observed in other areas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in the Danish Realm</span> Time zones of Denmark and its dependencies

Denmark, including its dependencies of Faroe Islands and Greenland, uses six time zones.


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