Time in the United Kingdom

Last updated

Time in Europe:
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 (UTC+4)
#### pale colours: standard time observed all year;
### dark colours: summer time observed Time Zones of Europe.svg
Time in Europe :
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 (UTC+4)
 pale colours: standard time observed all year;
 dark colours: summer time observed

The United Kingdom uses Greenwich Mean Time or Western European Time (UTC) and British Summer Time or Western European Summer Time (UTC+01:00).



Until the advent of the railways, the United Kingdom used local mean time. Greenwich Mean Time was adopted first by the Great Western Railway in 1840 and a few others followed suit in the following years. In 1847 it was adopted by the Railway Clearing House, and by almost all railway companies by the following year. It was from this initiative that the term "railway time" was derived.

It was gradually adopted for other purposes, but the legal case of Curtis v March in 1858 held "local mean time" to be the official time. [1] On 14 May 1880, a letter signed by 'Clerk to Justices' appeared in 'The Times', stating that 'Greenwich time is now kept almost throughout England, but it appears that Greenwich time is not legal time. [2] [3] This was changed later in 1880, when Greenwich Mean Time was legally adopted throughout the island of Great Britain under the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act 1880 (43 & 44 Vict.). GMT was adopted on the Isle of Man in 1883, Jersey in 1898, and Guernsey in 1913. Ireland adopted GMT in 1916, supplanting Dublin Mean Time. [4]

Daylight saving time was introduced by the Summer Time Act 1916 (6 & 7 Geo. V), which was implemented in 1916 as GMT plus one hour and Dublin Mean Time plus one hour. The length of DST could be extended by Order in Council, and was extended for the duration of World War I. For 1916, DST extended from 21 May to 1 October, with transitions at 02:00 standard time. On 1 October 1916, Greenwich Mean Time was introduced to Ireland. [4]

At the beginning of the 20th century, Sandringham Time (UTC+00:30) was used by the royal household. This practice was abolished by King Edward VIII in an effort to reduce confusions over time.

The United Kingdom experimentally adopted Central European Time by maintaining Summer Time throughout the year from 1968 to 1971. [5] In a House of Lords debate, Richard Butler, 17th Viscount Mountgarret said that the change was welcomed at the time, but the experiment was eventually halted after a debate in 1971, in which the outcome might have been influenced by a major accident on the morning of the debate. [6] Proposals to adopt CET have been raised by various politicians over the years, [5] [7] including a proposal in 2011 to conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits. [8]

The dates of British Summer Time are the subject of the Summer Time Act 1972. From 1972 to 1980, the day following the third Saturday in March was the start of British Summer Time (unless that day was Easter Sunday, in which case BST began a week earlier), with the day following the fourth Sunday in October being the end of British Summer Time. From 1981 to 2001, the dates were set in line with various European Directives. Since 2002 the Act has specified the last Sunday in March as the start of British Summer Time with the last Sunday in October being end of British Summer Time. [9]

Since 1998 the start and end date are the same in both the United Kingdom and the European Union. [10] [11]


A proposal to repeal European Directive 2000/84/EC and require that member states observe their own choice of time year-round was initiated in September 2018. [12] The United Kingdom left the EU before this reform became effective; the UK is subsequently free to make its own arrangements. [13] [14] As of September 2018, the UK Government had "no plans" to end daylight saving. [15]

In July 2019, the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee launched a new inquiry into the implications for the UK of the European changes, to "explore what preparations the Government needs to make and what factors should inform the UK's response." [16]


Authority over the time zone in Northern Ireland can be legislated by the Northern Ireland Assembly [17] but the power has never been used, as the Republic has followed the UK. In Scotland and Wales, time zone is a reserved matter, meaning that only the Parliament of the United Kingdom has power to legislate.

IANA time zone database

The IANA time zone database contains one zone for the United Kingdom in the file zone.tab, named Europe/London. This refers to the area having the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code "GB". The zone names Europe/Guernsey, Europe/Isle_of_Man and Europe/Jersey exist because they have their own ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 but the zone.tab entries are links to Europe/London. There are several entries for UK possessions around the world.

Data directly from zone.tab of the IANA time zone database. Columns marked with * are the columns from zone.tab itself.

c.c.*Coordinates*TZ*Comments* UTC offset UTC DST offset
GB +513030−0000731 Europe/London +00:00 +01:00
GI +3608−00521 Europe/Gibraltar +01:00 +02:00
GG +492717−0023210 Europe/Guernsey +00:00 +01:00
IM +5409−00428 Europe/Isle_of_Man +00:00 +01:00
JE +491101−0020624 Europe/Jersey +00:00 +01:00
AI +1812−06304 America/Anguilla −04:00 −04:00
MS +1643−06213 America/Montserrat −04:00 −04:00
TC +2128−07108 America/Grand_Turk −05:00 −04:00
AQ −6734−06808 Antarctica/Rothera Rothera −03:00 −03:00
BM +3217−06446 Atlantic/Bermuda −04:00 −03:00
GS −5416−03632 Atlantic/South_Georgia −02:00 −02:00
SH −1555−00542 Atlantic/St_Helena +00:00 +00:00
FK −5142−05751 Atlantic/Stanley −03:00 −03:00
IO −0720+07225 Indian/Chagos +06:00 +06:00
PN −2504−13005 Pacific/Pitcairn −08:00 −08:00

British territories

Standard timeSummer time
UTC−08:00 Pitcairn Islands
UTC−05:00 Cayman Islands
UTC−04:00 (AST) UTC−03:00 Bermuda
UTC−04:00 (AST, DST never observed) Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands
UTC−03:00 (FKST) Falkland Islands
UTC−02:00 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
UTC (GMT) UTC+01:00 United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey
UTC (GMT, DST never observed) Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
UTC+01:00 (CET) UTC+02:00 Gibraltar
UTC+02:00 (EET) UTC+03:00 Akrotiri and Dhekelia
UTC+06:00 British Indian Ocean Territory

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenwich Mean Time</span> Time zone of western Europe, same as WET

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, counted from midnight. At different times in the past, it has been calculated in different ways, including being calculated from noon; as a consequence, it cannot be used to specify a particular time unless a context is given. The term 'GMT' is also used as one of the names for the time zone UTC+00:00 and, in UK law, is the basis for civil time in the United Kingdom.

<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">Central European Time</span> Standard time (UTC+01:00)

Central European Time (CET) is a standard time which is 1 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, Madrid Time, Paris Time, Rome Time, Warsaw Time or even 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">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 many other parts of the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Summer Time</span> Identifier for a time offset from UTC of +1

During British Summer Time (BST), civil time in the United Kingdom is advanced one hour forward of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in effect changing the time zone from UTC±00:00 to UTC+01:00, so that mornings have one hour less daylight, and evenings one hour more.

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

Time in Canada, by regional law, is divided into six standard time zones covering the country's provinces and territories. Most regions operate on standard time from the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March and daylight saving time the rest of the year.

Malaysian Standard Time or Malaysian Time (MYT) is the standard time used in Malaysia. It is 8 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The local mean time in Kuala Lumpur was originally GMT+06:46:46. Peninsular Malaysia used this local mean time until 1 January 1901, when they changed to Singapore mean time GMT+06:55:25. Between the end of the Second World War and the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, it was known as British Malayan Standard Time, which was GMT+07:30. At 2330 hrs local time of 31 December 1981, people in Peninsular Malaysia adjusted their clocks and watches ahead by 30 minutes to become 00:00 hours local time of 1 January 1982, to match the time in use in East Malaysia, which is UTC+08:00. SGT (Singapore) followed on and uses the same until now.

<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. In ISO 8601, an example of the associated time would be written as 2019-02-07T23:28:34+00:00. It is also known by the following geographical or historical names:

UTC−00:25:21 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of −00:25:21.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Railway time</span> Time scale for rail transport

Railway time was the standardised time arrangement first applied by the Great Western Railway in England in November 1840, the first recorded occasion when different local mean times were synchronised and a single standard time applied. The key goals behind introducing railway time were to overcome the confusion caused by having non-uniform local times in each town and station stop along the expanding railway network and to reduce the incidence of accidents and near misses, which were becoming more frequent as the number of train journeys increased.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in France</span> Time zones in France and overseas territories

Metropolitan France uses Central European Time as its standard time, and observes Central European Summer Time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. With its overseas territories, France uses 12 different time zones, more than any other country in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in the Republic of Ireland</span> Time zone (UTC+1 summer, UTC+0 winter)

Ireland uses Irish Standard Time in the summer months and Greenwich Mean Time in the winter period..

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

Spain has two time zones and observes daylight saving time. Spain mainly uses Central European Time (GMT+01:00) and Central European Summer Time (GMT+02:00) in Peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta, Melilla and plazas de soberanía. In the Canary Islands, the time zone is Western European Time (GMT±00:00) and Western European Summer Time (GMT+01:00). Daylight saving time is observed from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October throughout Spain.

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

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Winter time (clock lag)</span> Aspect of daylight saving time

Winter time is the practice of shifting the clock back during winter months, usually −1 hour. It is a form of daylight saving time which is the opposite compensation to the summer time. However, while summer time is widely applied, use of winter time has been and is very rare.

Time in the Kingdom of the Netherlands is denoted by Central European Time (CET) during the winter as standard time in the Netherlands, which is one hour ahead of coordinated universal time (UTC+01:00), and Central European Summer Time (CEST) during the summer as daylight saving time, which is two hours ahead of coordinated universal time (UTC+02:00). The Caribbean Netherlands – which consist of the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba – all observe Atlantic Standard Time (AST) year-round, which is four hours behind coordinated universal time (UTC−04:00).

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

Finland uses Eastern European Time (EET) during the winter as standard time and Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) during the summer as daylight saving time. EET is two hours ahead of coordinated universal time (UTC+02:00) and EEST is three hours ahead of coordinated universal time (UTC+03:00). Finland adopted EET on 30 April 1921, and has observed daylight saving time in its current alignment since 1981 by advancing the clock forward one hour at 03:00 EET on the last Sunday in March and back at 04:00 EET on the last Sunday in October, doing so an hour earlier for the first two years.

Time in Poland Time zones used in Poland

Time in Poland is given by Central European Time. Daylight saving time, which moves an hour ahead, is observed from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. This is shared with several other EU member states.


  1. Howse 1997, p. 114
  2. CLERK TO JUSTICES. "Time, Actual And Legal". Times, London, England, 14 May 1880: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 18 August 2015.
  3. Bartky, Ian R. (2007). One Time Fits All: The Campaigns for Global Uniformity. Stanford University Press. p. 134. ISBN   978-0804756426.
  4. 1 2 Myers J (5 October 2008). "History of legal time in Britain" . Retrieved 15 July 2009.
  5. 1 2 "Fresh attempt to change UK time". BBC News. 25 January 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  6. "Central European Time Bill [H.L.] HL Deb 11 January 1995 vol 560 cc243-84". Hansard. 1995. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  7. "Tundra time call in clocks debate". BBC News. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  8. "Plan to bring UK clocks forward". BBC News. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  9. "Summer Time Act 1972". The National Archives.
  10. Joseph Myers (21 January 2007). "History of legal time in Britain" . Retrieved 24 March 2007.
  11. "Directive 2000/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 January 2001 on summer time arrangement".
  12. "Euro MPs vote to end summer time clock changes". BBC News. 26 March 2019.
  13. Campbell, John (2 October 2018). "Dublin and Belfast in separate time zones?". BBC News. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  14. "House of Lords - Subsidiarity Assessment:discontinuing seasonal changes of time - European Union Committee". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  15. "Northern Ireland won't change time zone to suit the EU, say unionists". Belfast Telegraph.
  16. "Implications of ending clock changes investigated in new inquiry - News from Parliament". UK Parliament. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  17. The Role of the Advocate General and its constitutional context, Office of the Advocate General of Scotland, speech delivered 18 March 2011, retrieved 1 January 2014, "For example, the Northern Ireland Assembly has the legislative competence to deal with time zones."