When planning a trip or making a phone call to the United States, you should be aware of the different time zones in the USA. Learn about all eleven US time zones, the difference between UTC and CET, and Standard- and Daylight Savings Time.
The United States of America has a total of eleven time zones. Four of them stretch across the contiguous mainland from the West Coast to the East Coast:
UTC is the abbreviation for Universal Time Coordinated. This refers to the worldwide basis for calculating local time.
Just like in many other countries in the world, there is also a daylight saving time in the USA, at which the clocks are changed. However, the so-called daylight saving time (or DST for short) is not implemented everywhere. Places without official daylight saving time include Hawaii and most of Arizona.
In terms of daylight saving time, the US state of Arizona is a special case, as only the Navajo Nation Reservation in the Northeast implements daylight savings time here.
The time changeover to daylight saving time takes place on the second Sunday in March at two o'clock in the morning. The clocks are then set back again on the first Sunday in November, also at two o'clock in the morning.
Because the USA does not switch completely to daylight saving time, some time zone borders are lifted for half of the year. For example, if you travel from California to Arizona during daylight saving time, you don't have to set your watch ahead.
The time change in the USA takes place on different days than in Europe (where it happens at the end of March or at the end of October). This leads to an additional difference between Central European Time and the time zones in the USA in the periods from mid to late March and early November.
If you're planning a round trip through the US, you'll get different dates for takeoffs and landings, picking up and dropping off rental cars, or even checking into hotels. Here are the most important US cities and their time zones:
|City||Daylight savings time||Standard time|
|New York City||UTC-4||UTC-5|
Wintertime is generally referred to as "standard time." Thus, daylight saving time is to be understood as a deviation from standard time.
In the East of the US mainland, the Eastern Standard Time zone prevails from the coast to the Great Lakes. As a UTC-5 zone, it is six hours behind Central European Time and completely includes 17 US states.
US states that lie entirely within the EST time zone include Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The daylight saving variant of the Eastern Standard Time zone (EST) is called Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and is in the UTC-4 range.
The American Eastern Standard Time zone is often confused with other time zones that also contain the word "Eastern." However, the Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), Eastern Africa Time (EAT), Eastern European Time (EET), and the East Greenland Time (EGT) are in completely different UTC zones.
The Central Standard Time zone applies to a large part of the central United States and includes, for example, the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oklahoma completely. Parts of Texas, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska are also in the CST zone.
The daylight saving time variant of the Central Standard Time zone (CST) is called Central Daylight Time (CDT) and is in the UTC-5 range.
The daylight saving time variant of the Mountain Standard Time zone (MST) is called Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) and is in the UTC-6 range.
The West of the USA is located in the Pacific Standard Time zone. Unlike the other time zones of the US mainland, only two US states are completely subject to PST: California and Washington. However, some other states are partially in the PST time zone, namely Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon.
The daylight saving time (DST) variant of the Pacific Standard Time zone (PST) is called Pacific Daylight Time (MDT) and is in the UTC-7 range.
You know everything about the time zones of the USA now. But are you still wondering about various time zone abbreviations that pop up when scheduling appointments between different countries? Then our time zones FAQ will help you:
GMT is the abbreviation for "Greenwich Mean Time" and was used as world time before the introduction of UTC. Today, GMT is still used in Great Britain and parts of Africa but is increasingly being replaced by UTC there as well.
CET stands for "Central European Time" and is equivalent to UTC+1. This time zone applies, for example, in Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Norway, and many other European countries. Parts of Africa also use CET.
CEST is "Central European Summer Time" and is equivalent to UTC+2. This time zone applies, for example, in Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Norway, and many other European countries from the end of March to the end of October.
Even when flying within the USA, the time difference is clearly noticeable for you. If you fly to the USA from Europe, it will be even worse. Therefore, a jet lag master plan should always be part of your travel preparations for your vacation in the USA.
Popular tips include living on local time a few hours before you arrive in the USA (i.e., changing your clocks beforehand) and spending a lot of time outside in the fresh air after your arrival in the USA. Exercise and avoiding caffeine and alcohol are also said to help.
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