How to use dates in PHP

Working with dates and times is very common in programming, let’s see what PHP provides.

We can get the current timestamp (number of seconds since Jan 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT) using time():

$timestamp = time();

When you have a timestamp you can format that as date using date(), using the format you prefer:

echo date('Y-m-d', $timestamp);

Y is the 4-digits representation of the year, m is the month number (with leading zero) and d is the number of day of the month, with leading zero.

See the full list of characters you can use to format the date

We can convert any date into a timestamp using strtotime(), which takes a string with a textual representation of a date and converts it into the number of seconds since Jan 1 1970:

echo strtotime('now');
echo strtotime('4 May 2020');
echo strtotime('+1 day');
echo strtotime('+1 month');
echo strtotime('last Sunday');’s pretty flexible.

For dates it’s common to use libraries that offer a lot more functionality than what the language can. A good option is Carbon.

Download my free PHP Handbook!