Date and time notation in Canada

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

Date and time notation in Canada is regulated for some industries, and the Government of Canada recommends particular styles to ensure correct comprehension, especially in bilingual contexts. Everyday usage in Canadian English is a mixture of conventions from date and time notation in the United Kingdom and the United States, and varies across the country.[1]


The Government of Canada recommends the YYYY-MM-DD format for writing numeric dates.[2] The Canadian Standards Association (National Standard of Canada CAN/CSA-Z243.4–89, All-numeric date and time) specifies ISO 8601 as the date format.[3] This is the only numeric date format that allows unambiguous interpretation.[4]

The YYYY-MM-DD format is an official recommendation, but it is rarely enforced, and in many contexts the DD/MM/YY and MM/DD/YY formats remain in use. Payments Canada prefers ISO 8601, but also allows cheques to be printed using MMDDYYYY or DDMMYYYY formats; they must include indicators to guide the format.[5] Some federal forms, such as commercial cargo manifests, offer a blank line with no guidance.[6]

Federal regulations for best before dates on perishable goods mandate that the year/month/day format be used, with the month spelled out. The year is only required if the date is beyond the current year. These are the official bilingual codes:[7]

Code English Name French Name
JA January janvier
FE February février
MR March mars
AL April avril
MA May mai
JN June juin
JL July juillet
AU August août
SE September septembre
OC October octobre
NO November novembre
DE December décembre


Official bodies and many industries in Canada require the use of the 24-hour clock, and it is the recommendation of the Government of Canada.[8] Nonetheless, it only states that the system 'may be desirable', and the 12-hour clock remains common in English-speaking contexts.


  1. ^ Sanderson, Blair (18 January 2016). "Proposed legislation aims to settle date debate". CBC News. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada (1997). "5.14: Dates". The Canadian style: A guide to writing and editing (Rev. ed.). Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-55002-276-6. 
  3. ^ "TBITS 36: All-Numeric Representation of Dates and Times – Implementation Criteria". Treasury Board of Canada. December 18, 1997. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Collishaw, Barbara (2002). "FAQs on Writing the Time of Day". Terminology Update. 35 (3): 11. 
  5. ^ "Cheque Specifications" (PDF). Canadian Payments Association. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ Blaze Carlson, Kathryn (29 October 2011). "Is 02/04/12 February 4, or April 2? Bill seeks to end date confusion". National Post. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  7. ^ Food Labelling and Claims Directorate (8 June 2017). "Date Markings and Storage Instructions". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Government of Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada (1997). "5.13: Representation of time of day". The Canadian style: A guide to writing and editing (Rev. ed.). Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55002-276-6.