How to get the current time in Python

What is the module/method used to get the current time?

6.01.2009 04:54:23


>>> import datetime
datetime.datetime(2009, 1, 6, 15, 8, 24, 78915)

>>> print(
2009-01-06 15:08:24.789150

And just the time:

datetime.time(15, 8, 24, 78915)

>>> print(

See the documentation for more information.

To save typing, you can import the datetime object from the datetime module:

>>> from datetime import datetime

Then remove the leading datetime. from all of the above.

29.10.2019 17:00:36
It would be nice if this answer covered timezones (maybe UTC as an example) and perhaps begin with time.time().
Greg Lindahl 1.10.2018 21:41:45
@Toskan the format was not part of the question, so it shouldn't be part of the answer. There's already a link provided to more documentation of the module which contains stuff like formatting.
JiyuuSensei 18.10.2019 07:04:12
Which version of Python was the original answer given in? Just typing in my Python 2.7 interactive console (IronPython hasn't updated yet) gives me the same behavior as the newer example using print() in the answer. I haven't successfully replicated what the original answer shows (datetime.datetime(2009, 1, 6, 15, 8, 24, 78915)). (Not that I really want to, the print() behavior is preferred, but I am curious.)
RTHarston 29.10.2019 15:04:26
@BobVicktor: Python 2.7, 3.7 and 3.8 all give the same behaviour for me, not sure what you're seeing.
Harley Holcombe 31.10.2019 20:15:33
@HarleyHolcombe Hmm... maybe it is an IronPython thing? When I type on its own it prints it out the same was as your answer shows print(
RTHarston 1.11.2019 05:58:19

You can use time.strftime():

>>> from time import gmtime, strftime
>>> strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S", gmtime())
'2009-01-05 22:14:39'
20.02.2013 21:17:17
Is this better/worse than @ParaMeterz's answer below? Why should we use the time module vs. the datetime module?
Nathan 29.04.2018 16:17:21
It doesn't return current hour of my computer.
Saeed 29.10.2018 11:51:18
This is UTC time, different from datetime module
Voyager 12.03.2019 08:11:07
@Saeed: Use the function localtime() instead of the gmtime() to get your local time.
Jeyekomon 3.07.2019 11:33:51
@frank See related question on datetime vs. time.
Packard CPW 30.09.2019 04:32:29
>>> from time import gmtime, strftime
>>> strftime("%a, %d %b %Y %X +0000", gmtime())
'Tue, 06 Jan 2009 04:54:56 +0000'

That outputs the current GMT in the specified format. There is also a localtime() method.

This page has more details.

31.05.2019 08:53:11


from time import time

t = time()
  • t - float number, good for time interval measurement.

There is some difference for Unix and Windows platforms.

4.12.2015 06:46:53
My result on Windows 10 home was 1576095264.2682993 - for Windows, this might just give the time in seconds.
PythonMaster202 11.12.2019 20:16:50

If you need current time as a time object:

>>> import datetime
>>> now =
>>> datetime.time(now.hour, now.minute, now.second)
datetime.time(11, 23, 44)
23.11.2011 18:08:04

Similar to Harley's answer, but use the str() function for a quick-n-dirty, slightly more human readable format:

>>> from datetime import datetime
>>> str(
'2011-05-03 17:45:35.177000'
23.05.2017 11:47:32
All it's asking is to get the current time, not to display it.
pppery 23.08.2017 13:50:58
@ppperry, then just simply assign a variable to Ray's answer - like: myTime = str(
Lukas 27.03.2019 05:30:32
Not relevant; the "str" step is not within the scope of the question
pppery 11.04.2019 21:06:21
@pppery Nor does the op say it isn't about getting a string of the time. The op doesn't say at all what they want to do with the time, so why is it a bad thing to show how to turn it in to a string? Most of the answers talk about getting a string from the time, so it appears to be a common use case, so why single out Ray's answer? What use is simply getting the time without knowing how to do anything with it? You can print it, or do math on it, and only a couple of the answers show how to do math on it, so I think printing/getting a string is a common use. ;-) (I know it is what I came for.)
RTHarston 29.10.2019 15:21:32
The fact that this answer has more than 440 upvotes suggests that the minor addition of the string method was useful to a lot of people.
John 10.01.2020 20:09:39
from datetime import datetime'%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')

For this example, the output will be like this: '2013-09-18 11:16:32'

Here is the list of strftime directives.

23.01.2020 13:46:07

.isoformat() is in the documentation, but not yet here (this is mighty similar to @Ray Vega's answer):

>>> import datetime
6.06.2018 22:44:31

The quickest way is:

>>> import time
>>> time.strftime("%Y%m%d")
19.09.2019 14:03:06

The previous answers are all good suggestions, but I find it easiest to use ctime():

In [2]: from time import ctime
In [3]: ctime()
Out[3]: 'Thu Oct 31 11:40:53 2013'

This gives a nicely formatted string representation of the current local time.

19.09.2019 14:09:30
>>> import datetime, time
>>> time = time.strftime("%H:%M:%S:%MS", time.localtime())
>>> print time
14.09.2019 12:10:19
I think you mean to say ""
hlin117 26.10.2014 20:46:34
yes it can be done as you said. ""%H:%M:%S:%MS")"
user2030113 4.11.2014 10:02:25
%MS does not give you milliseconds!!
ZF007 13.06.2019 20:23:03 returns the current time as a naive datetime object that represents time in the local timezone. That value may be ambiguous e.g., during DST transitions ("fall back"). To avoid ambiguity either UTC timezone should be used:

from datetime import datetime

utc_time = datetime.utcnow()
print(utc_time) # -> 2014-12-22 22:48:59.916417

Or a timezone-aware object that has the corresponding timezone info attached (Python 3.2+):

from datetime import datetime, timezone

now =
print(now) # -> 2014-12-23 01:49:25.837541+03:00
22.12.2014 22:52:47

This is what I ended up going with:

>>>from time import strftime
>>>strftime("%m/%d/%Y %H:%M")
01/09/2015 13:11

Also, this table is a necessary reference for choosing the appropriate format codes to get the date formatted just the way you want it (from Python "datetime" documentation here).

strftime format code table

9.01.2015 18:24:49
strftime(time_format) returns the current local time as a string that corresponds to the given time_format. Note: time.strftime() and datetime.strftime() support different directive sets e.g., %z is not supported by time.strftime() on Python 2.
jfs 9.01.2015 23:36:02
Is it better practice to use datetime instead of time?
Kristen G. 15.01.2015 20:09:54
Many time module functions are thin wrappers around corresponding C functions. datetime is a higher level and it is usually more portable.
jfs 15.01.2015 20:19:02

You can use the time module:

import time
print time.strftime("%d/%m/%Y")

>>> 06/02/2015

The use of the capital Y gives the full year, and using y would give 06/02/15.

You could also use the following code to give a more lengthy time:

time.strftime("%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S")
>>> 'Fri, 06 Feb 2015 17:45:09'
31.05.2019 09:09:25

How do I get the current time in Python?

The time module

The time module provides functions that tells us the time in "seconds since the epoch" as well as other utilities.

import time

Unix Epoch Time

This is the format you should get timestamps in for saving in databases. It is a simple floating point number that can be converted to an integer. It is also good for arithmetic in seconds, as it represents the number of seconds since Jan 1, 1970 00:00:00, and it is memory light relative to the other representations of time we'll be looking at next:

>>> time.time()

This timestamp does not account for leap-seconds, so it's not linear - leap seconds are ignored. So while it is not equivalent to the international UTC standard, it is close, and therefore quite good for most cases of record-keeping.

This is not ideal for human scheduling, however. If you have a future event you wish to take place at a certain point in time, you'll want to store that time with a string that can be parsed into a datetime object or a serialized datetime object (these will be described later).


You can also represent the current time in the way preferred by your operating system (which means it can change when you change your system preferences, so don't rely on this to be standard across all systems, as I've seen others expect). This is typically user friendly, but doesn't typically result in strings one can sort chronologically:

>>> time.ctime()
'Tue Feb 17 23:21:56 2015'

You can hydrate timestamps into human readable form with ctime as well:

>>> time.ctime(1424233311.771502)
'Tue Feb 17 23:21:51 2015'

This conversion is also not good for record-keeping (except in text that will only be parsed by humans - and with improved Optical Character Recognition and Artificial Intelligence, I think the number of these cases will diminish).

datetime module

The datetime module is also quite useful here:

>>> import datetime

The is a class method that returns the current time. It uses the time.localtime without the timezone info (if not given, otherwise see timezone aware below). It has a representation (which would allow you to recreate an equivalent object) echoed on the shell, but when printed (or coerced to a str), it is in human readable (and nearly ISO) format, and the lexicographic sort is equivalent to the chronological sort:

datetime.datetime(2015, 2, 17, 23, 43, 49, 94252)
>>> print(
2015-02-17 23:43:51.782461

datetime's utcnow

You can get a datetime object in UTC time, a global standard, by doing this:

>>> datetime.datetime.utcnow()
datetime.datetime(2015, 2, 18, 4, 53, 28, 394163)
>>> print(datetime.datetime.utcnow())
2015-02-18 04:53:31.783988

UTC is a time standard that is nearly equivalent to the GMT timezone. (While GMT and UTC do not change for Daylight Savings Time, their users may switch to other timezones, like British Summer Time, during the Summer.)

datetime timezone aware

However, none of the datetime objects we've created so far can be easily converted to various timezones. We can solve that problem with the pytz module:

>>> import pytz
>>> then =
>>> then
datetime.datetime(2015, 2, 18, 4, 55, 58, 753949, tzinfo=<UTC>)

Equivalently, in Python 3 we have the timezone class with a utc timezone instance attached, which also makes the object timezone aware (but to convert to another timezone without the handy pytz module is left as an exercise to the reader):

datetime.datetime(2015, 2, 18, 22, 31, 56, 564191, tzinfo=datetime.timezone.utc)

And we see we can easily convert to timezones from the original utc object.

>>> print(then)
2015-02-18 04:55:58.753949+00:00
>>> print(then.astimezone(pytz.timezone('US/Eastern')))
2015-02-17 23:55:58.753949-05:00

You can also make a naive datetime object aware with the pytz timezone localize method, or by replacing the tzinfo attribute (with replace, this is done blindly), but these are more last resorts than best practices:

>>> pytz.utc.localize(datetime.datetime.utcnow())
datetime.datetime(2015, 2, 18, 6, 6, 29, 32285, tzinfo=<UTC>)
>>> datetime.datetime.utcnow().replace(tzinfo=pytz.utc)
datetime.datetime(2015, 2, 18, 6, 9, 30, 728550, tzinfo=<UTC>)

The pytz module allows us to make our datetime objects timezone aware and convert the times to the hundreds of timezones available in the pytz module.

One could ostensibly serialize this object for UTC time and store that in a database, but it would require far more memory and be more prone to error than simply storing the Unix Epoch time, which I demonstrated first.

The other ways of viewing times are much more error prone, especially when dealing with data that may come from different time zones. You want there to be no confusion as to which timezone a string or serialized datetime object was intended for.

If you're displaying the time with Python for the user, ctime works nicely, not in a table (it doesn't typically sort well), but perhaps in a clock. However, I personally recommend, when dealing with time in Python, either using Unix time, or a timezone aware UTC datetime object.

10.06.2016 20:42:53

The following is what I use to get the time without having to format. Some people don't like the split method, but it is useful here:

from time import ctime
print ctime().split()[3]

It will print in HH:MM:SS format.

6.06.2018 22:51:28

Try the arrow module from

import arrow

Or the UTC version:


To change its output, add .format():

arrow.utcnow().format('YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss ZZ')

For a specific timezone:'US/Pacific')

An hour ago:


Or if you want the gist.

>>> '2 years ago'
6.06.2018 22:52:47
beware that'Time/Zone') may fail for some timezones (arrow uses dateutil that has broken utc -> local conversions that are used inside Note: pytz has no such issue. Also, there are other timezone-related issues
jfs 14.11.2015 09:00:04
import datetime
date_time = str(
date,time = date_time

date will print date and time will print time.

24.01.2019 19:58:43

I want to get the time with milliseconds. A simple way to get them:

import time, datetime

print(                         # 11:20:08.272239

# Or in a more complicated way
print(             # 11:20:08.272239
print('%H:%M:%S.%f')) # 11:20:08.272239

# But do not use this:
print(time.strftime("%H:%M:%S.%f", time.localtime()), str)    # 11:20:08.%f

But I want only milliseconds, right? The shortest way to get them:

import time

time.strftime("%H:%M:%S", time.localtime()) + '.%d' % (time.time() % 1 * 1000)
# 11:34:23.751

Add or remove zeroes from the last multiplication to adjust number of decimal points, or just:

def get_time_str(decimal_points=3):
    return time.strftime("%H:%M:%S", time.localtime()) + '.%d' % (time.time() % 1 * 10**decimal_points)
6.06.2018 22:54:01
This works in Python 3: time.strftime("%H:%M:%S", time.localtime()) + '.{}'.format(int(time.time() % 1 * 1000))
Greg Graham 27.09.2016 14:41:39

Why not ask the U.S. Naval Observatory, the official timekeeper of the United States Navy?

import requests
from lxml import html

page = requests.get('')
tree = html.fromstring(page.content)

If you live in the D.C. area (like me) the latency might not be too bad...

19.08.2016 19:45:08
@C8H10N4O2 While you are correct that the other answers assume that your computer already knows the correct time, this answer assumes that the computer has a connection to the internet, that you are in the U.S., and that they will never take down that file/alter the link. Far more assumptions in this answer than accepted. Still clever none the less
sudobangbang 28.10.2016 15:01:21
import datetime
date_time =

date =  # Gives the date
time = date_time.time()  # Gives the time

print date.year, date.month,
print time.hour, time.minute, time.second, time.microsecond

Do dir(date) or any variables including the package. You can get all the attributes and methods associated with the variable.

6.06.2018 22:55:03
@snofty and @user1016274, if import datetime then it is\n if from datetime import datetime then it is
theBuzzyCoder 21.04.2017 04:44:51

Using pandas to get the current time, kind of overkilling the problem at hand:

import pandas as pd


2017-09-22 12:44:56.092642
31.05.2019 09:06:53

if you are using numpy already then directly you can use numpy.datetime64() function.

import numpy as np

for only date:


or, if you are using pandas already then you can use pandas.to_datetime() function

import pandas as pd


31.05.2019 11:59:08

You can use this function to get the time (unfortunately it doesn't say AM or PM):

def gettime():
    from datetime import datetime
    return ((str(' ')[1]).split('.')[0]

To get the hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds to merge later, you can use these functions:


def gethour():
    from datetime import datetime
    return (((str(' ')[1]).split('.')[0]).split(':')[0]


def getminute():
    from datetime import datetime
    return (((str(' ')[1]).split('.')[0]).split(':')[1]


def getsecond():
    from datetime import datetime
    return (((str(' ')[1]).split('.')[0]).split(':')[2]


def getmillisecond():
    from datetime import datetime
    return (str('.')[1]
13.08.2019 16:51:17
from time import ctime

// Day {Mon,Tue,..}
print ctime().split()[0]
// Month {Jan, Feb,..}
print ctime().split()[1]
// Date {1,2,..}
print ctime().split()[2]
print ctime().split()[3]
// Year {2018,..}
print ctime().split()[4]

When you call ctime() it will convert seconds to string in format 'Day Month Date HH:MM:SS Year' (for example: 'Wed January 17 16:53:22 2018'), then you call split() method that will make a list from your string ['Wed','Jan','17','16:56:45','2018'] (default delimeter is space).

Brackets are used to 'select' wanted argument in list.

One should call just one code line. One should not call them like I did, that was just an example, because in some cases you will get different values, rare but not impossible cases.

31.05.2019 09:29:17
You might also want to explain why extracting parts from multiple calls of ctime() like that (using "current" time at each call) will not necessarily give a useful value in combination with each other.
Toby Speight 16.01.2018 16:09:24
What is // doing here?
gerrit 8.05.2019 17:52:00

By default, now() function returns output in the YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS:MS format. Use the below sample script to get the current date and time in a Python script and print results on the screen. Create file with the below content.

import datetime

currentDT =
print (str(currentDT))

The output looks like below:

2018-03-01 17:03:46.759624
6.06.2018 23:03:42

First import the datetime module from datetime

from datetime import datetime

Then print the current time as 'yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss'


To get only the time in the form 'hh:mm:ss' where ss stands for the full number of seconds plus the fraction of seconds elapsed, just do;


Converting the to a string yields an answer that is in the format that feels like the regular DATES AND TIMES we are used to.

24.05.2018 20:27:29

Because no one has mentioned it yet, and this is something I ran into recently... a pytz timezone's fromutc() method combined with datetime's utcnow() is the best way I've found to get a useful current time (and date) in any timezone.

from datetime import datetime

import pytz

JST = pytz.timezone("Asia/Tokyo")

local_time = JST.fromutc(datetime.utcnow())

If all you want is the time, you can then get that with local_time.time().

6.07.2018 08:24:22
Surprisingly, All the above answers didnt mention Time zones. you should also include strftime to get the format you wanted.
GraphicalDot 30.08.2018 17:27:15
I didn't include that since it's already been covered in other answers (and display formatting wasn't part of the question).
kungphu 31.08.2018 21:59:08

If you just want the current timestamp in ms (for example, to measure execution time), you can also use the "timeit" module:

import timeit
start_time = timeit.default_timer()
end_time = timeit.default_timer()
print("Elapsed time: {}".format(end_time - start_time))
18.07.2018 07:11:56

This question doesn't need a new answer just for the sake of it ... a shiny new-ish toy/module, however, is enough justification. That being the Pendulum library, which appears to do the sort of things which arrow attempted, except without the inherent flaws and bugs which beset arrow.

For instance, the answer to the original question:

>>> import pendulum
>>> print(
>>> print('utc'))

There's a lot of standards which need addressing, including multiple RFCs and ISOs, to worry about. Ever get them mixed up; not to worry, take a little look into dir(pendulum.constants) There's a bit more than RFC and ISO formats there, though.

When we say local, though what do we mean? Well I mean:

>>> print(

Presumably most of the rest of you mean somewhere else.

And on it goes. Long story short: Pendulum attempts to do for date and time what requests did for HTTP. It's worth consideration, particularly for both its ease of use and extensive documentation.

28.12.2019 22:47:26