Python: How to get a value of datetime.today() that is "timezone aware"?


Question

I am trying to subtract one date value from the value of datetime.today() to calculate how long ago something was. But it complains:

TypeError: can't subtract offset-naive and offset-aware datetimes

The value datetime.today() doesn't seem to be "timezone aware", while my other date value is. How do I get a value of datetime.today() that is timezone aware? Right now it's giving me the time in local time, which happens to be PST, i.e. UTC-8hrs. Worst case, is there a way I can manually enter a timezone value into the datetime object returned by datetime.today() and set it to UTC-8? Of course, the ideal solution would be for it to automatically know the timezone.

1
257
12/6/2015 10:07:03 AM

Accepted Answer

In the standard library, there is no cross-platform way to create aware timezones without creating your own timezone class.

On Windows, there's win32timezone.utcnow(), but that's part of pywin32. I would rather suggest to use the pytz library, which has a constantly updated database of most timezones.

Working with local timezones can be very tricky (see "Further reading" links below), so you may rather want to use UTC throughout your application, especially for arithmetic operations like calculating the difference between two time points.

You can get the current date/time like so:

import pytz
from datetime import datetime
datetime.utcnow().replace(tzinfo=pytz.utc)

Mind that datetime.today() and datetime.now() return the local time, not the UTC time, so applying .replace(tzinfo=pytz.utc) to them would not be correct.

Another nice way to do it is:

datetime.now(pytz.utc)

which is a bit shorter and does the same.


Further reading/watching why to prefer UTC in many cases:

319
10/5/2018 8:25:49 PM

Get the current time, in a specific timezone:

import datetime
import pytz
my_date = datetime.datetime.now(pytz.timezone('US/Pacific'))

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