I am using SQL Server 2000 for an old system web site. I've just hit an issue that is going to cause me endless hassles down the road.

When I installed the server on my local system I took all the defaults but now any datetime data type is getting stored in mm/dd/yyyy format.

Now this is not an issue for inserting data but when getting the data out and writing it to a page its in US format.

The site is going to be based in the UK on a UK server so I need my local development system to mirror that, and I also want to have to avoid using CONVERT on every field which is a datetime.

Tried changing the database collation a few times without success.

So my question was this:

Is it possible to change the format of the datetime so that inserting 23/01/1972 is stored as such and not 1/23/1972?

SERVER Properties:

  • Default language: English (United States)
  • Collation: SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS

Database Properties

  • Collation: SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS

Specifically as as example

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[lbg_app_section1](
    [id_app_section1] [int] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL,
    [refid_applications] [int] NOT NULL,
    [dateofbirth] [datetime] NULL,
    [gender] [nvarchar](50) NULL,
    [ninumber] [nvarchar](15) NULL,
    [address_hsno] [nvarchar](60) NULL,
    [address_twncty] [nvarchar](60) NULL,
    [address_cnty] [nvarchar](60) NULL,
    [address_postcode] [nvarchar](15) NULL,
    [address_country] [nvarchar](30) NULL,
    [dt_section1_modified] [datetime] NULL
  • What is the datatype of the column? Char or date (or datetime)? May 4, 2013 at 14:19
  • the data type is 'datime'
    – John Cogan
    May 4, 2013 at 14:24
  • 5
    Datetimes (and dates) are not stored as strings. You really shouldn't be concerned about how they are stored. Only how you are sending (inserting) data to them and how you are retrieving them. What you notice is the default format of the output of datetime expressions. May 4, 2013 at 14:30
  • 1
    You can use CAST and CONVERT for output the datetimes in any format you like. May 4, 2013 at 15:04

3 Answers 3


As stated in the comments, dates are not stored as "dates". They are actually stored as numbers. So there is no need to worry about that side of things. You can change the default output though by changing your language setting.

EXEC sp_configure 'default language', '23';

This is the setting for British English. You can see all of them displayed in the syslanguages system view. syslanguages also contains the default date format. In the case of British English it is dmy. American English is mdy.


As stated by other posters, datetime values are stored as datetime values, not as strings. If you want to get technical, they are stored as two integers - one representing days and the other representing clock ticks (3.33ms for the datetime datatype).

I agree with you in not wanting to use CONVERT() on every field. I feel that the correct place for formatting region-dependant items is on the client. The web page or application should be formatting dates and times as appropriate to the user's locale. This can take advantage of any localisation features of the client programming language - something that T-SQL CONVERT() can not do.

As an aside, in case you didn't already know, the format for inserting dates can be controlled with SET DATEFORMAT.

As another aside, SQL Server 2008 added the date datatype which may make your life a lot easier.


A further aside that is relevant to your situation: I would recommend passing dates into SQL Server in ISO 8601 format (or a close approximation to it), as that's the least likely to be misinterpreted. SQL Server 2000 seems happy with accepting dates in yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss format.

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