SQL Convert Date to YYYYMMDD

By:   |   Updated: 2020-06-16   |   Comments (2)   |   Related: More > Dates


Often when working with dates in SQL Server you may want to use the Year, Month, Day format 'yyymmdd' as output or to filter your results. This is a condensed way to display the Date in a sortable format. This format can be used when you do not want to show the delimiter between the year, month, and day. This is a good option when looking for a consistent standard for an international audience and you do not need to include the time portion of a date stamp. However, when using this format as a filter there may be a gotcha that you should be aware of.


In this article I'll set up a test table of dates with various data types: DATE, DATETIME, CHAR(8) and load sample date and show examples of outputs and filtering. I will use the date conversion functions CAST and CONVERT.

1. Create a Test Table

For this step we will create a test table: dbo.TestDate and load it with sample data.

Use Tempdb;

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[TestDate] (
   [ID] [int] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL,
   [MyDate] [date]  NULL,
   [CharDate] [char](8) NULL,
   [MyDateTime] [datetime] NULL

2. Load Sample Test Data

For this limited example we will only load 20 rows of test data. For the data load to convert the date to character format 'yyyymmdd' I will use CONVERT(CHAR(8), TheDate, 112). Format 112 is the ISO standard for yyyymmdd.


DECLARE @SetDateTime DATETIME = '2020-01-01 14:04:03.230';

INSERT INTO [dbo].[TestDate]
SELECT CAST(Convert(CHAR(8),@SetDateTime,112) as DATETIME), Convert(CHAR(8),@SetDateTime,112), CAST(Convert(CHAR(8),@SetDateTime,112) as DATETIME);

INSERT INTO [dbo].[TestDate]
SELECT @SetDateTime, Convert(CHAR(8),@SetDateTime,112), @SetDateTime

INSERT INTO [dbo].[TestDate] ([MyDate] ,[CharDate], [MyDateTime])
SELECT top 1 [MyDateTime]+1, Convert(CHAR(8),[MyDateTime]+1,112), [MyDateTime]+1
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]
ORDER BY 1 desc 
GO 20  --load 20 days of dates

Results: Shows the example Dates loaded.

Results of Sample DateTime Table.

3. Convert Dates to Char 'yyyymmdd'

Next, converting a DATE and DATETIME datatype to character 8 'yyyymmdd' output using CONVERT and FORMAT functions.

--A. CONVERT use style = 112 to CHAR 8 or NCAHR 8
SELECT CONVERT(CHAR(8),[MyDate],112) as 'MyDate',CONVERT(CHAR(8),[MyDateTime],112) as 'MyDateTime'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate];
--B. NCHAR(8)
SELECT CONVERT(NCHAR(8),[MyDate],112) as 'MyDate',CONVERT(NCHAR(8),[MyDateTime],112) as 'MyDateTime'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate];
--C. FORMAT Function (new in SQL 2012) use format = yyyyMMdd returning the results as nvarchar.
SELECT FORMAT([MyDate],'yyyyMMdd') as 'MyDate', FORMAT([MyDateTime],'yyyyMMdd')  as 'MyDateTime'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]; 

Results: The results of the 3 queries all show the conversion to 'yyyymmdd' regardless of the format or the conversion method. The results below where reduced to 3 rows each for the demo.

Convert Dates to Char.

4. Convert Char 'yyyymmdd' back to Date data types

Now, convert the Character format 'yyyymmdd' to a Date and DateTime data type using CAST and CONVERT.

--A. Cast and Convert datatype DATE:
SELECT [CharDate],
      CAST([CharDate] AS DATE) as 'Date-CAST',
      CONVERT(DATE,[CharDate]) as 'Date-CONVERT'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate];
--B. Cast and Convert datatype DATETIME:
SELECT [CharDate],
      CAST([CharDate] AS DATETIME) as 'DateTime-CAST',
      CONVERT(DATETIME,[CharDate]) as 'DateTime-CONVERT'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate];

Results: Below shows the results of converting CHAR 'yyyymmdd' to a DATE and DATETIME data types! SQL does this gracefully.

Convert Char to Dates.

5. Filtering Dates by Char 'yyyymmdd' and the Gotcha

Using Character 'yyyymmdd' as a filter in the WHERE clause against date datatypes.

-- Test 'YYYYMMDD' filter against Date datatypes

--A. DATE datatype
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]
WHERE [MyDate] = '20200101'

--B.  DATETIME datatype
SELECT [MyDateTime]
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]
WHERE [MyDateTime] = '20200101' --implicit conversion to datetime Midnight!;

Results: Note the difference in the 2 result sets. When filtering against a DATETIME datatype, SQL implicitly converts the Character and appends a Midnight timestamp. Any rows with MyDateTime value other than midnight are excluded, i.e. 2020-01-01 14:04:03.230. This is the 'Gotcha'!

Filter and Gotcha

6. How to use Char 'yyyymmdd' filter against Datetime datatype to adjust for the Gotcha

When using the 'yyyymmdd' in the filter against DateTime datatype you must account for the timestamp part of the datatype!

--A. Use Greater Than and Equal and Less Than to get all dates with a Char 'yyyymmdd' Filter:
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]
WHERE [MyDateTime] >= '20200101' 
  AND [MyDateTime] < '20200102' --implicit conversion to datetime Midnight!;

7. What happens if we filter with yyyyymmdd as an Integer value?

--A. Test yyyymmdd filter against Date datatype using and integer 
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]
WHERE [MyDate] = 20200101;

Results: We can't do this because it results in an error!

Error Int Filter

8. Alternative Formats

Last, I will share examples of alternative formats for returning dates. Also, I will show how robust SQL is at converting the other formats when used in a where clause.

--A. Alternative formats that returns Year Month Day mixing Date and Datetime formats using CONVERT:
SELECT CONVERT(CHAR(10),[MyDate],120) as 'MyDate_w_Dash',
       CONVERT(CHAR(10),[MyDateTime],111) as 'MyDateTime_w_Slash',
       CONVERT(CHAR(10),[MyDateTime],102) as 'MyDateTime_w_Dot'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate];

--B. Alternative formates that returs Year Month Day mixing Date and Datetime formats using FORMAT:
SELECT FORMAT([MyDate],'yyyy-MM-dd') as 'MyDate_w_Dash',
       FORMAT([MyDate],'yyyy/MM/dd') as 'MyDate_w_Slash',
       FORMAT([MyDateTime],'yyyy.MM.dd') as 'MyDateTime_w_Dot'
FROM [dbo].[TestDate];
--C. Note using Year, month, day in the where clause that SQL server will recognize different delimiters: dash, slash, dot or no delimiter as shown above.
FROM [dbo].[TestDate]
WHERE [MyDateTime] = '2020.01.01' --or '2020/01/01' or '2020-01-01' or '20200101'

Results: Review the 3 result sets from the queries! Note the different date delimiters and the ability to use different delimited dates as filters.

Alternate Formats.

Wrap Up

I hope you enjoyed this exercise on year, month, day date formats and can see the flexibility that SQL Server has handling dates. Other ways to take advantage of the Year Month Day short format, might include concatenating a date to a file name or naming a monthly billing batch. I have also seen the use of Char(6) YYYYMM to denote financial monthly periods. Please comment on other ways you may have used the yyyymmdd date format!

Next Steps

Last Updated: 2020-06-16

get scripts

next tip button

About the author
MSSQLTips author Jim Evans Jim Evans is an IT Manager with Stericycle who has managed DBAs, BI Developer, and Data Management teams over the past 10 years.

View all my tips

Comments For This Article

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 5:24:51 AM - Rick Dobson Back To Top

Helpful and easy to read.  Thanks for your excellent tip.

Rick Dobson

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 6:38:53 AM - Tim Cullen Back To Top

Great tip, Jim!


Recommended Reading

Date and Time Conversions Using SQL Server

Format SQL Server Dates with FORMAT Function

Add and Subtract Dates using DATEADD in SQL Server

Creating a date dimension or calendar table in SQL Server

SQL Server Date and Time Functions with Examples

get free sql tips
agree to terms

Learn more about SQL Server tools