Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Converting UTC Times to Local Times.

Converting UTC Times to Local Times

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 13, 2015)

6

Brian lives in Australia and needs to convert a UTC time into his local time. Problem is, he doesn't know how to go about doing it.

UTC is an abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time. (Yes, I know it looks like the abbreviation letters are out of order. They are; this is why it isn't an acronym. The abbreviation is—believe it or not—based on a political compromise.) UTC is equivalent to International Atomic Time with leap seconds added at irregular intervals to compensate for the Earth's slowing rotation. UTC is never out of synch with GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time) by more than nine tenths of a second, so the two (UTC and GMT) are virtually equivalent in common usage.

Because of this, all you need to do to convert from UTC to a local time is to figure out how many hours your time varies from GMT. There are any number of Websites you can visit to determine such information; the following is an example of one you can use. (Just click a city near you that you know is on the same time zone as you, then look at the resulting time to see how many hours different you are from GMT.)

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/

If you are near Sydney, Australia, you can see that your local time is ten hours ahead of GMT. This means that to determine the local time, if you know UTC, all you need to do is add ten hours to that time. If the UTC is in cell B3 in Excel's date and time format, then you could use either of these formulas:

=B3 + TIME(10,0,0)
=B3 + (10 / 24)

You should understand that these formulas don't account for Daylight Savings Time. If you live in an area that implements some sort of time adjustment scheme (such as DST), then you will need to adjust your formulas accordingly. This means that if you are near Sydney you need to figure out when DST starts and ends, and if you are currently affected by DST you will need to add eleven hours to your UTC value.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10739) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Converting UTC Times to Local Times.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is one more than 9?

2017-08-22 03:05:57

Ptopenkpoalen

"these formulas don't account for Daylight Savings Time"

You can't brush away the difficulty of this exercise with those words.

Daylight savings time is a reality. This is all useless without accounting for it.


2016-02-01 04:16:57

vikas jain

2016-01-27T22:22:19-0800


2015-11-05 16:52:23

Michael Armstrong

The standard time/daylight time (ST/DT) shifts would seem to wreak havoc on any calculation involving elapsed time and local timestamps. For example, we switched to DT at 2:00AM ST on March 8, 2015. One minute later, it was 3:01AM DT. Similarly, when we switched back to ST on November 1 at 2:00AM DT, one minute later it was 1:01AM ST. Starting with the serial number representing those 2:00AM times, and adding one minute, however, Excel displays 2:01AM for both, not 3:01 and 1:01:

3/8/2015 2:00 42071.08333333
3/8/2015 2:01 42071.08402778
11/1/2015 2:00 42309.08333333
11/1/2015 2:01 42309.08402778

And if you look at the elapsed time from noon on 3/8 to noon on 3/9, or noon on 11/1 to noon on 11/2, you get 24 hours for both, although the true elapsed time is 23 hours in March and 25 hours in November:

3/8/2015 12:00 42071.50000000
3/9/2015 12:00 42072.50000000
11/1/2015 12:00 42309.50000000
11/2/2015 12:00 42310.50000000

So, if you are calculating an elapsed time that includes any such time shift, you need to "adjust your formulas accordingly" for sure. And of course if one of your interval boundaries is between 1:00AM and 1:59AM in November, say 01:35AM, you have to specify WHICH 01:35AM you mean -- 01:35AM DT or 01:35 ST.

I receive some instrumentation data collected at 5-minute intervals over the day. Normally, of course, I receive 288 data points, but for November 1, 2015, I received 300. The extra 12 points were collected after we "fell back" to Standard Time from Daylight Time. The CSV file, imported into Excel 2013, looked like:

...
11/1/2015 0:45
11/1/2015 0:50
11/1/2015 0:55
11/1/2015 1:00
11/1/2015 1:05
11/1/2015 1:10
11/1/2015 1:15
11/1/2015 1:20
11/1/2015 1:25
11/1/2015 1:30
11/1/2015 1:35
11/1/2015 1:40
11/1/2015 1:45
11/1/2015 1:50
11/1/2015 1:55
11/1/2015 1:00
11/1/2015 1:05
11/1/2015 1:10
11/1/2015 1:15
...

Fortunately, this time interval contained data of no interest, so I just deleted it from the stream, but I admit to being unsure of what to do if it's meaningful. I'd love to hear what others do.


2015-06-15 07:54:23

Dermot McGlone

But what do I do if I live in the UTC/GMT timezone? How do I figure out my time?

Dermot from Ireland :-)


2015-06-13 07:06:56

Marcel Beugelsdijk

The following suggestion In order to account for DST dynamically.

Create a list with “Timezone”, Switch at UTC”, “Offset”, e.g. (starting at 1-1-2015)
CE(S)T 1-1-2015 0:00 1
CE(S)T 29-3-2015 1:00 2
CE(S)T 25-10-2015 1:00 1

It is absolutely required that this list is sorted ascending on “Timezone” and “Switch at UTC”.
The “Switch at UTC” are the UTC date/time stamps when DST start or ends for this timezone.

Suppose you have a UTC time in G2 and the timezone in H1, and the list in A2:C4, then the following array formula will give you the time in the timezone:

{=$G2+INDEX($C$2:$C$4,MATCH(H$1&$G2,$A$2:$A$4&$B$2:$B$4))/24}

You can drag this formula down for multiple timestamps in column G from row 2 downwards, and to the right for multiple timezones on row 1, columns H, I, J and so on.

Remark: this will also work when a timezone will switch back and forth to DST multiple times in 1 year, something that happened for instance in Egypt a few years ago.


2015-06-13 05:08:11

James Gibbons

Mr Wyatt,

I really love all your Excel expertise.

Keep up the good work.

James Gibbons, Puddingmoor Place, Beccles NR34 9PJ, UK


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