CET – Central European Time


People often dream about traveling in Europe. This small continent consists of plenty of beautiful countries that tend to attract tourists from various parts of the world. So, if you’re Getting to know Central European Time and other European time zones, it’s important to avoid confusion about the plane or train schedules and have better communication with the locals. 

However, people often feel confused about traveling through different time zones. Not only do they hate the puzzling sensation of jetlag, but also they hate being disoriented and lost. If you live somewhere around North America, chances are high that you understand the ways how Central Standard Time, Mountain Time, or Eastern Time work. But none of these time zones are familiar to European people. 

In fact, currently, European people measure the time based on the three standard time zones: Western European Time, Central European Time, and Eastern European Time. Among them, Central European Time or CET is observed in 17 EU member countries. It’s the most common time zone in the entire continent, covering the largest part of the EU population. 

In this article, we will discuss everything that you need to know about Central European Time. We will explain the way it works, review its brief history and teach you how to convert CET to different time zones. Since people often have questions about the similarities between CET and GMT, we will compare these two time zones. The complete list of the territories that cover CET will also be provided. 

CET Central European Time

What is CET Time?

Central European Time also known as CET is one of the time zones, mainly identified with European countries. However, CET isn’t used only in Europe. In fact, some African countries also observe Central European Time, alongside “local” time zones such as West Africa Standard Time or East Africa Time. CET covers a number of countries starting from western Spain up to the East. Totally, 35 countries are located in this time zone which is why the majority of people are aware of Central European Time. 

The most important thing about CET is to remember that it’s 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This time zone is usually used during the standard time in Europe and Africa. The time offset of CET from UTC is usually written as UTC+01:00. Even though Central European Time is the most common name of this time zone, in some parts of the world it’s known with different names. Specifically, people also call it Middle European Time (MET) or use colloquial names such as Madrid Time, Paris Time, Berlin Time, Warsaw Time, etc, in order to indicate CET time. 

CET is located on the 15th meridian east of Greenwich, the central axis for UTC+01:00. All EU countries that observe Central European Time also use Summer Time or Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. Central European Daylight Time (CEDT) is 2 hours ahead of UTC (UTC + 2:00) and is the same as time zones such as Central Africa Time, Eastern European Time, or South African Standard Time. 

Brief History of CET

The history of time is one of the most puzzling, yet interesting topics. People often wonder how the world came up with the decision to divide the earth into various time zones. Centuries ago, the most accurate way to measure time was to use natural resources such as the sun, moon, and stars. Ancient people used to determine the position of the sun in order to make predictions about the entire day. A lot of years have passed since then and the time system has drastically improved. However, the current time system comes from the calculations of time based on the position of the sun.

Standard time was first introduced in the 19th century when people understood the need for time standardization. It was first used by British railways in 1847. The reason was that every railway station calculated time according to local time zones. As a result, it was almost impossible to provide an informative train schedule. Therefore, everything started from the railway industry but people around the world quickly realized the benefits of standardized time. By 1855, the majority of British clocks were already standardized to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). 

Germany was the first country that started using Central European Time (CET) in 1893. By this time, the country was called the German Empire and the introduction of CET meant unifying of time zones. CET was called MEZ in Germany which is a German abbreviation of Middle European Time. The empire implemented the new time system in all occupied territories during World War I. 

Lithuania started using CET or MET in 1920 and observed CET until 1940. Other countries that observed European Standard Time before World War II were France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. After the war, other European countries (Monaco, Spain, Andorra, and Gibraltar) also implemented CET in their national time system. Portugal also used CET in 1966-76 and 1992-96 but today the country observes Western European Time. 

How Does CET Work?

The basic mechanism of Central European Time (CET) is exactly the same as other time zones. It’s one of the 24 15-degree parts of the earth that covers 35 countries in Europe and North Africa. The clocks of the countries in the CET time zone are set accordingly. 

People usually determine the time in relation to UTC, a primary time standard according to which the clocks and time are regulated around the world. one of the time zones that are 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Therefore, the time offset of the CET is UTC+1 which is the same as GMT+1. 

However, CET is not the only time observed by the countries in this time zone. Many countries also observe CEDT which is an abbreviation of Central European Daylight Time. Using Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a common practice in the world. During some time in spring and summer, countries tend to skip one hour and change their clocks in order to save daylight and electricity. In Europe, it’s called Central European Summer Time (CEST)  or Central European Daylight Time (CEDT). Unlike CET, CEDT is 2 hours ahead of UTC (UTC + 2:00). Most European Union members have adopted the SummerTime which is observed from the last Sunday of March and to the last Sunday of October. However, some countries use CET all year. 

How To Convert CET to Other Time Zones?

With the advancement of technologies, conversion between time zones has become relatively simple. Probably, the easiest way to convert CET to other time zones is to turn on the location and use your smartphone or laptop. There are a number of online tools on the internet that can help you convert CET to your preferred time zone. Our Time Zone Converter is one of such kinds of instruments. 

However, if you’re interested in time zone differences and want to know how Central European Time relates to other time zones, the first thing you should remember is that it’s one hour ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Therefore, it’s the same as Irish Standard Time, West Africa Time, British Summer Time, or Western European Summer Time. Use the following guide to find out how to convert CET to other time zones:

Therefore, to convert IST to CET you should add 4 hours; In order to convert CET to EST you should subtract 5 hours; To convert CET to MST you should subtract 7 hours; in order to convert CET to PST you should subtract 8 hours, and in order to convert CET to CST you should subtract 8 hours as well. 

Major Territories in CET Time

After World War II, many countries implemented Central European Time and switched their clocks to CET. However, some countries like Portugal changed the time system afterward. Today CET is used in most parts of Europe and in Africa, specifically in South Africa. In Total, 25 countries observe CET either entirely or alongside Central European Summer Time. Below we will provide the list of all the territories that use Central European Time and sort them by continents. 


All the following European countries use Central European Time in the fall and winter and switch to Central European Summer Time in spring and summer.

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Holy See/Vatican City
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Kosovo
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain – (except the Canary Islands)
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland


There are three African countries that observe CET and all of them are located in North Africa. They also call their time zone West Africa Time (WAT). 

  • Algeria
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia

Difference Between CET and CEDT

Daylight Saving Time (DST) frequently gives rise to confusion. Many people aren’t sure when exactly it starts in the current year when it ends, how it relates to standard time, and what its purpose is after all. Considering this, it’s not surprising that people also find it hard to understand the difference between CET and CEDT. In this section, we will compare these two time zones.

CET stands for Central European Time. The standard Time zone is usually used either during the entire year or in fall and winter. It depends on whether countries observe Daylight Saving Time (DST). In the case of territories where Daylight Saving Time is used, CET starts on the last Sunday in October and continues to the last Sunday in March. 

On the other hand, CEDT stands for Central European Daylight Time or Central European Summertime (CEST). CEDT is observed in spring and summer, specifically from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. All countries in the Central European Time Zone observe CEDT except Algeria and Tunisia. During this time, clocks are advanced by one hour. Therefore, the offset of CEDT is UTC + 2:00 instead of UTC + 1:00. The changeover usually takes place either at 2 or 3 a.m. 

FAQ about Central European Time

Where is the CET time zone?

CET time zone is the 15th meridian east time zone, the central axis for UTC+01:00. It covers the territories in Europe and North Africa. Central European Time is used in the following 35 countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (except the Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican City. 

Is CET the same as GMT?

No, Central European Time (CET) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) are two different time zones. CET is one of the 24 longitudinal time zone divisions of the Earth. On the contrary, GMT is the time zone reference point. CET is one hour after GMT which is the same as UTC + 1 hour.

Is CET always 1 hour ahead of GMT?

Yes, Central European Time is always one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Consequently, the time offset from UTC is UTC+01:00. However, some countries in the Central European Time Zone observe Summer Time (CEST). During the Central European Summer Time, the offset is UTC+02:00.

What is CET time in the USA?

Since the USA uses several different time zones, CET can be converted in different ways based on the territory. CST is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST), 7 hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time (MST), 8 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST), and 8 hours ahead of Central Standard Time (CST).