Date and time notation in Canada

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While the Canadian Standards Association has adopted ISO 8601 as CSA Z234.5:1989,[1] its use is not mandated in every situation. Thus in Canada three date and time formats are in common use. According to the Canadian Payments Association, which regulates cheques, the big-endian ISO 8601 YYYYMMDD is preferred, but MMDDYYYY or DDMMYYYY may be used, and cheques must include date indicators showing which format is being used.[2]

If using only two digits, not only can the month and day be confused with each other, but also the year. For instance, 07/04/01 could ambiguously be interpreted as:[3]

  • July 4, 2001 (MMDDYY)
  • April 7, 2001 (DDMMYY)
  • April 1, 2007 (YYMMDD)

The federal government tends to use the big-endian format, but some federal forms, such as a commercial cargo manifest, offer a blank line with no guidance.[4] Passport applications[5] and tax returns[6] use YYYY-MM-DD. English language newspapers generally use MDY (MMM[M] D, YYYY).[7] In Quebec and New Brunswick the variation of DDMMYYYY is used when written in French. The Newfoundland Provincial Standard for Date/Time Documentation Format in the medical field is specified as YYYY-MM-DD[8]

Government of Canada regulations for best before dates on foods mandate YYMMDD or MMDD.[9] The month is shown using the following bilingual codes.[10]

JA January
FE February
MR March
AL April
MA May
JN June
JL July
AU August
SE September
OC October
NO November
DE December


  1. ^ "International Standard Date and Time Notation". Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Cheque Specifications". Canadian Payments Association. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Berke, Jeremy. "IN CANADA, YOU CAN JUST WRITE THE DATE WHICHEVER WAY YOU WANT". Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Blaze Carlson, Kathryn. "Is 02/04/12 February 4, or April 2? Bill seeks to end date confusion". National Post. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Canadian passport renewal application" (PDF). Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  6. ^ "Canadian Income Tax Form" (PDF). Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  7. ^ " website, with links to newspapers in many Canadian cities". Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  8. ^ per this link
  9. ^ "Date Markings and Storage Instructions". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Government of Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Date Markings and Storage Instructions". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Government of Canada. Retrieved 27 September 2015.