9.6. MySQL Server Time Zone Support

The MySQL server maintains several time zone settings:

  • The system time zone. When the server starts, it attempts to determine the time zone of the host machine and uses it to set the system_time_zone system variable. The value does not change thereafter.

    You can set the system time zone for MySQL Server at startup with the --timezone=timezone_name option to mysqld_safe. You can also set it by setting the TZ environment variable before you start mysqld. The permissible values for --timezone or TZ are system dependent. Consult your operating system documentation to see what values are acceptable.

  • The server's current time zone. The global time_zone system variable indicates the time zone the server currently is operating in. The initial value for time_zone is 'SYSTEM', which indicates that the server time zone is the same as the system time zone.

    The initial global server time zone value can be specified explicitly at startup with the --default-time-zone=timezone option on the command line, or you can use the following line in an option file:


    If you have the SUPER privilege, you can set the global server time zone value at runtime with this statement:

    mysql> SET GLOBAL time_zone = timezone;
  • Per-connection time zones. Each client that connects has its own time zone setting, given by the session time_zone variable. Initially, the session variable takes its value from the global time_zone variable, but the client can change its own time zone with this statement:

    mysql> SET time_zone = timezone;

The current session time zone setting affects display and storage of time values that are zone-sensitive. This includes the values displayed by functions such as NOW() or CURTIME(), and values stored in and retrieved from TIMESTAMP columns. Values for TIMESTAMP columns are converted from the current time zone to UTC for storage, and from UTC to the current time zone for retrieval.

The current time zone setting does not affect values displayed by functions such as UTC_TIMESTAMP() or values in DATE, TIME, or DATETIME columns. Nor are values in those data types stored in UTC; the time zone applies for them only when converting from TIMESTAMP values. If you want locale-specific arithmetic for DATE, TIME, or DATETIME values, convert them to UTC, perform the arithmetic, and then convert back.

The current values of the global and client-specific time zones can be retrieved like this:

mysql> SELECT @@global.time_zone, @@session.time_zone;

timezone values can be given in several formats, none of which are case sensitive:

  • The value 'SYSTEM' indicates that the time zone should be the same as the system time zone.

  • The value can be given as a string indicating an offset from UTC, such as '+10:00' or '-6:00'.

  • The value can be given as a named time zone, such as 'Europe/Helsinki', 'US/Eastern', or 'MET'. Named time zones can be used only if the time zone information tables in the mysql database have been created and populated.

The MySQL installation procedure creates the time zone tables in the mysql database, but does not load them. You must do so manually using the following instructions. (If you are upgrading to MySQL 4.1.3 or later from an earlier version, you can create the tables by upgrading your mysql database. Use the instructions in Section 4.4.7, “mysql_upgrade — Check Tables for MySQL Upgrade”. After creating the tables, you can load them.)


Loading the time zone information is not necessarily a one-time operation because the information changes occasionally. For example, the rules for Daylight Saving Time in the United States, Mexico, and parts of Canada changed in 2007. When such changes occur, applications that use the old rules become out of date and you may find it necessary to reload the time zone tables to keep the information used by your MySQL server current. See the notes at the end of this section.

If your system has its own zoneinfo database (the set of files describing time zones), you should use the mysql_tzinfo_to_sql program for filling the time zone tables. Examples of such systems are Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, and Mac OS X. One likely location for these files is the /usr/share/zoneinfo directory. If your system does not have a zoneinfo database, you can use the downloadable package described later in this section.

The mysql_tzinfo_to_sql program is used to load the time zone tables. On the command line, pass the zoneinfo directory path name to mysql_tzinfo_to_sql and send the output into the mysql program. For example:

shell> mysql_tzinfo_to_sql /usr/share/zoneinfo | mysql -u root mysql

mysql_tzinfo_to_sql reads your system's time zone files and generates SQL statements from them. mysql processes those statements to load the time zone tables.

mysql_tzinfo_to_sql also can be used to load a single time zone file or to generate leap second information:

  • To load a single time zone file tz_file that corresponds to a time zone name tz_name, invoke mysql_tzinfo_to_sql like this:

    shell> mysql_tzinfo_to_sql tz_file tz_name | mysql -u root mysql

    With this approach, you must execute a separate command to load the time zone file for each named zone that the server needs to know about.

  • If your time zone needs to account for leap seconds, initialize the leap second information like this, where tz_file is the name of your time zone file:

    shell> mysql_tzinfo_to_sql --leap tz_file | mysql -u root mysql
  • After running mysql_tzinfo_to_sql, it is best to restart the server so that it does not continue to use any previously cached time zone data.

If your system is one that has no zoneinfo database (for example, Windows or HP-UX), you can use the package of pre-built time zone tables that is available for download at the MySQL Developer Zone:


This time zone package contains .frm, .MYD, and .MYI files for the MyISAM time zone tables. These tables should be part of the mysql database, so you should place the files in the mysql subdirectory of your MySQL server's data directory. The server should be stopped while you do this and restarted afterward.


Do not use the downloadable package if your system has a zoneinfo database. Use the mysql_tzinfo_to_sql utility instead. Otherwise, you may cause a difference in datetime handling between MySQL and other applications on your system.

For information about time zone settings in replication setup, please see Section 17.4.1, “Replication Features and Issues”.

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