Coordinated Universal Time

"UTC" redirects here. For other uses, see UTC (disambiguation).
This article is about the time standard abbreviated as "UTC". For the time offset between UTC−1 and UTC+1, see UTC±00:00.
World map of current time zones

Coordinated Universal Time ( French: Temps universel coordonné), abbreviated to UTC, is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude; [1] it does not observe daylight saving time. It is one of several closely related successors to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). For most purposes, UTC is considered interchangeable with GMT, but GMT is no longer precisely defined by the scientific community.

The first Coordinated Universal Time was informally adopted on 1 January 1960. [2]

The system was adjusted several times, including a brief period where time coordination radio signals broadcast both UTC and "Stepped Atomic Time (SAT)" until a new UTC was adopted in 1970 and implemented in 1972. [2] This change also adopted leap seconds to simplify future adjustments. This CCIR Recommendation 460 "stated that (a) carrier frequencies and time intervals should be maintained constant and should correspond to the definition of the SI second; (b) step adjustments, when necessary, should be exactly 1 s to maintain approximate agreement with Universal Time (UT); and (c) standard signals should contain information on the difference between UTC and UT." [2]

A number of proposals have been made to replace UTC with a new system that would eliminate leap seconds, but no consensus has yet been reached.

The current version of UTC is defined by International Telecommunications Union Recommendation (ITU-R TF.460-6), Standard-frequency and time-signal emissions [3] and is based on International Atomic Time (TAI) with leap seconds added at irregular intervals to compensate for the slowing of Earth's rotation. [4] Leap seconds are inserted as necessary to keep UTC within 0.9 seconds of universal time, UT1. [5] See the " Current number of leap seconds" section for the number of leap seconds inserted to date.


The official abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time is UTC. This abbreviation arose from a desire by the International Telecommunication Union and the International Astronomical Union to use the same abbreviation in all languages. English speakers originally proposed CUT (for "coordinated universal time"), while French speakers proposed TUC (for "temps universel coordonné"). The compromise that emerged was UTC, [6] which conforms to the pattern for the abbreviations of the variants of Universal Time (UT0, UT1, UT2, UT1R, etc.). [7]