getting today's date in python

Getting Today’s Date in YYYY-MM-DD in Python: A Step-by-Step Guide

Handling dates in Python is streamlined with the datetime module, which enables you to obtain the current date and time, as well as manipulate these values.

For clarity and standardization, particularly when documenting events or calculating durations, it’s often best to represent dates in the internationally recognized format of YYYY-MM-DD.

In this section, we outline the straightforward process to capture today’s date in this widely used convention.

  • Import datetime from the datetime module
  • Use to retrieve the current date and time
  • Format the result using strftime('%Y-%m-%d') for a YYYY-MM-DD output


from datetime import datetime
current_date ='%Y-%m-%d')

Handling Dates and Times in Python

Python’s standard library includes a powerful toolkit for date and time manipulation known as the datetime module. It houses several classes enabling you to work with distinct temporal elements such as dates, times, and intervals.

  • The datetime class: This class marries a date with a time component. Here is how you can instantiate it:
    from datetime import datetime dt = datetime(2023, 9, 19, 23, 59, 59) 

    By passing the year, month, day, hour, minute, and second as arguments, you create a datetime object reflecting a specific moment down to the second.

  • The date class: Concentrating on calendar dates, this class captures the year, month, and day. To work with current dates, Python provides you with methods to fetch real-time data:
    from datetime import date today = 

This command generates a date object for the current day, represented in the YYYY-MM-DD format, allowing for unambiguous date expressions that avoid the confusion of regional styles.

Retrieving the Current Date in Python

To obtain the present date in Python, leverage the datetime module. Here’s a precise guide:

from datetime import datetime

# Access the current date and time
current_datetime =

# Display the full datetime information
print(current_datetime)  # Example output: 2024-03-29 10:20:30.123456

# For the date alone
current_date =

# Displaying just the date
print(current_date)  # Example output: 2024-03-29

The today() function provides both date and time, but appending .date() returns just the date component, formatted as YYYY-MM-DD.

Formatting Date as YYYY-MM-DD

When working with Python’s datetime module, transforming a date into the universally accepted format of Year-Month-Day (YYYY-MM-DD) is straightforward. The process involves using the strftime() method associated with date objects. Here’s how you can achieve this:

  1. Import the Module and Get the Current Date:
    from datetime import datetime current_date = 
  2. Apply the strftime() Method to Format the Date:
    Format Code Meaning Example
    %Y Year with century 2024
    %m Month as a zero-padded decimal number 03
    %d Day of the month as a zero-padded decimal number 29

    Combine these as follows:

    formatted_date = current_date.strftime('%Y-%m-%d') 

    This will result in a string representing the date in the desired format. For instance, March 29th, 2024, would be formatted as 2024-03-29.

Remember, the result from the strftime() function is a string. This means it cannot be treated like a date object for operations requiring date-specific methods or attributes. Should you need to make further changes to the date, maintain a reference to the original date object.

Alternative Methods to Obtain the Current Date

In your Python projects, you might sometimes need to retrieve the current date without the datetime module’s comprehensive functionalities. Here are a few methods you can utilize to accomplish this:

  • The time Module: This module can be employed to ascertain the present date.
    import time today = time.strftime("%Y-%m-%d") print(today)  # Returns the current date as 'YYYY-MM-DD' 

    The strftime function enables formatting of time in a specified string format. Although this module provides the basic date, it’s not equipped with extensive date and time manipulation abilities.

  • The pendulum Library: For a more enhanced experience in date and time processing, you might consider the pendulum library.
    import pendulum today = print(today)  # Yields the current date in 'YYYY-MM-DD' format 

    If you decide to use pendulum, be aware that it’s an external library and not included with your standard Python installation. It needs to be installed using the package manager pip.

Posted by
Glenn Yang

I code in Python, JavaScript, and C++; Open-source advocate; Hackathon participant and 'con enjoyer.