Central European Time

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Central European Time (CET) is one of the names of the time zone that is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in most European and some North African countries.

Its time offset is UTC+1. During daylight saving time CEST is used instead (UTC+2).


These countries use Central European Time throughout the year:

The following countries and territories use Central European Time during the winter only, between 1:00 UTC on the last Sunday of October and 1:00 UTC on the last Sunday of March:

Namibia uses UTC+1 between March and October and in the rest of the year observes daylight saving time (UTC+2)

Before World War II, Lithuania used CET (MET) in the years 1920–40. During the war Germany implemented this time in all occupied territories. In France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg CET was kept. After the war Monaco, Spain, Andorra and Gibraltar implemented CET.

Ireland and the United Kingdom experimentally adopted CET in the years 1968–71; however, this experiment proved unpopular and short-lived, mainly due to the increased number of road accidents (many involving children walking to school) in the dark winter mornings. Portugal used CET in the years 1966–76 and 1992–96.


Since political, in addition to purely geographical, criteria are used in the drawing of time zones, it follows that actual time zones do not precisely adhere to meridian lines. The CET (UTC+1) time zone, were it drawn by purely geographical terms, would consist of exactly the area between meridians 7° 30' E and 22° 30' E. As a result, there are European locales that despite lying in an area with a "physical" UTC+1 time, actually use another time zone (UTC+2 in particular - there are no "physical" UTC+1 areas that employ UTC); contrariwise, there are European areas that have gone for UTC+1, even though their "physical" time zone is UTC (typically), UTC-1 (westernmost Spain), or UTC+2 (e.g. the very easternmost parts of Norway, Poland, and Serbia). Following is a list of such "incongruencies":

Gibraltar maintained UTC+1 all year until the opening of the land frontier with Spain in 1982 when it followed its neigbour and introduced CEST.

Countries (or parts thereof) west of 7° 30' W ("physical" UTC-1) that use UTC+1

Countries (or parts thereof) between 7° 30' W and 7° 30' E ("physical" UTC) that use UTC+1

Countries (or parts thereof) east of 22° 30' E ("physical" UTC+2) that use UTC+1

  • The easternmost part of the Republic of Macedonia, including the city of Strumica
  • The absolutely easternmost part of Serbia, in the Pirot District, including the city of Pirot
  • The extreme easternmost tips of Hungary and Slovakia, bordering to the north and south respectively the Ukrainian Transcarpathian Oblast (Zakarpattia Oblast), a bit to the east of Vásárosnamény, Hungary - Uzhhorod, Ukraine (both at 22° 18' E) line
  • The easternmost part of Poland, including the cities of Lublin and Białystok
  • The extreme northeast of Sweden, in the Norrbotten province, including the cities of Kalix and Haparanda
  • The northeast of Norway, lying north of Finland, roughly coinciding with the county of Finnmark; for instance Vadsø, the capital of Finnmark, has a longitude of 23° 49′ E. Actually, the easternmost town in Norway, Vardø, lies at 30° 51′ E, which is so far east, so as to be east even of the central meridian of EET (UTC+2), i.e. east of Istanbul and Alexandria. It is also interesting to note that the Norwegian-Russian border (incl. border passings such as Kirkenes) is the only place where CET (UTC+1) borders Moscow time (UTC+3), resulting in a two hours time change for the passenger crossing that border. More so, there exists a "tri-zone" point (where UTC+1, UTC+2, and UTC+3 meet) at the Norway-Finland-Russia tripoint (look for the town of Nautsi in this map). This is the only "tri-zone" point within Europe. Actually, it is interesting to perform the following mental experiment when looking at this map: Go to the westernmost point of the red area (the Jäniskoski-Niskakoski area); this belongs to Russian jurisdiction, hence the time there is UTC+3. Then, take a northeastern (NE) direction (that is an eastwards direction); you will soon be crossing into Finnish territory, thus moving to the UTC+2 time zone. Continuing in that direction, you will eventually reach the Finland-Norway border and enter Norway, thus passing into the UTC+1 time zone. So, moving in a (north-)easterly direction, you will actually be moving from UTC+3 to UTC+2 to UTC+1!

Countries (or parts thereof) west of 22° 30' E ("physical" UTC+1) that use UTC+2

The Spanish case

Spain is a rather curious case. The country does use UTC+1, yet all life is organised 1 hour later than in the other UTC+1 countries. This contributed to the the opinion that "Spaniards do everything very late":

  • School starts at 09:30, which is 08:30 in Portugal, and incidently also school start
  • Lunch is eaten at 14:00, which is 13:00 in Portugal, and also lunch time there
  • Office hours last until after 18:00, which is 17:00 in Portugal, and also work finish time there
  • Dinner is eaten after 21:00, which is 20:00 in Portugal, and also dinner time there

    In practical terms, Spaniards are doing the same as Portuguese, at the same time, so they are actually following the "geographically correct time zone" (AKA "ruling themselves by the Sun") during the day. Spain can thus be considered as using nominally UTC+1, but in practice it is using UTC.

    Major metropolitan areas

    See also