CST – Central Standard Time


If you live somewhere around the continents or North or South America, you probably often hear the phrase Central Standard Time and know the way this time zone works. But even if you live far away, understanding the time standard and various time zones can be useful. 

With the digitalization of the world, more and more people started working remotely. Consequently, time zone differences are one of the most widely discussed topics in today’s workplace. No one wants to skip online meetings as a result of confusion about time zones. Nowadays it’s very common to work together with people who live oceans apart from you. Therefore, getting to know more about time zones has become vital for efficient communication and collaboration with people who live in different countries. The same applies to people who enjoy traveling. No one wants to miss a plane just because they couldn’t understand the time zone difference.

In this article, we’re going to provide an in-depth overview of Central Standard Time (CST) and clear up the confusion regarding it. We’ll explain what Central Standard Time is, how it works, review its brief history and territories that observe CST. Besides, we will try to teach simple ways to convert CST to different time zones and compare it to Central Daylight Time (CDT) as well. Let’s get started!

CST Central Standard Time

What Is CST Time?

Central Standard Time or CST as it’s often called is one of the major time zones that is six hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This time zone is used by some parts of countries located in North and South America such as Canada, the United States, and Mexico, as well as some parts of the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean islands. In total, CST applies to 9 countries. The largest city in the Central Time Zone is Mexico City which is also the largest metropolitan area in North America.

CST is a part of the Central Time Zone which consists of Central Standard Time and Central Daylight Time during different seasons. It’s 6 hours behind the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during winter and the fall and 5 hours behind during the spring and summer months. However, the difference between the various time zones to each other is usually expressed in terms of UTC instead of GMT. While some countries in the Central Time Zone use Daylight Saving Time and switch to Central Daylight Time during summer, others remain in CDT throughout the entire year. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is an example of a territory in the Central Time Zone that observes CST all year. 

Brief History of CST

Before we explain the exact mechanism of how CST works, let’s review a brief history of Central Standard Time and find out a bit more about its origins. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to imagine not being able to determine the exact time of a day. But there was a period in worldwide history when people didn’t mind not knowing the exact time. In fact, just two centuries ago, people used to determine the time according to the position of the sun. They set their clocks at noon based on the period when the sun reached the highest position in the sky. As a result, even cities in the same time zone had different times. 

The difference in time was especially confusing regarding train schedules. It was almost impossible to determine the exact time of departing or arriving as scheduled varied across different train stations. As a result, over time, communities realized that the US states needed a more accurate system of the time.

The development of the global time system originates in 1845 when Sir Sandford Fleming introduced the idea of standard time. He was a Scottish-Canadian foremost railway construction engineer, scientist, and inventor. He came up with the idea of setting standard time after spending a night in the railway station as a result of time confusion. This was the time when he realized that the global time system could solve the existing problems in the railway industry. Fleming is the man whose system of standard time is used even today. 

The first country that started observing standard time was Great Britain. In 1847 British railways switched to standard time from local mean time. The first railway that adopted London time was the Great Western Railway. The North American railway system adopted a standard time decades later, in 1883. Many things have changed afterward and today using Central Standard Time is already common practice in various U.S. states or territories in Canada and Mexico. 

How Does CST Work?

In order to travel in various time zones without confusion, people should understand the way different time zones work. While it seems like a complicated process at a first glance, actually it’s much easier. The most important thing about Central Standard Time to remember is that it’s 6 hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Also, this time zone is usually used in North America and Central America during standard time (in fall and winter). 

CST is the second easternmost time zone in the United States, while it’s the third one in Canada. The time zone spans from northern Canada in the south to Costa Rica near the Equator, an imaginary line around the middle of a planet that divides the earth as the North Pole and the South Pole. In North America, it shares borders with EST and MST to the east and west accordingly. 

CST is usually used in the fall and winter on territories that are in the Central Time Zone. It’s used from the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March. The most confusing thing about Central Time is that it is usually 6 hours behind UTC but when Central Time Zone territories are in the period of Daylight Saving Time (DST), CST is not in effect. During this time Central Daylight Time (CDT) is used instead which is 5 hours behind UTC. CDT works between mid-March and early November. 

How To Convert CST to Other Time Zones?

The key factor about the conversion of CST to other time zones is its relation to UTC. Usually, people determine the time based on the Coordinated Universal Time and use UTC to convert to different time zones. As you already know, Central Standard Time is UTC – 6 hours. However, the process of determining the time for your destination places will et much easier if you remember the following things about the connection of CST and other major time zones: 

  • Central Standard Time is 1 hour behind Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • Central Standard Time is 1 hour ahead of Mountain Standard Time (MST).
  • Central Standard Time is 2 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Accordingly, in order to convert CST to EST, you need to add one hour; In order to convert CST to MST, you need to discount one hour; In order to convert CST to PST, you need to discount two hours. 

But if you still feel confused and don’t know the exact time zone of your own or destination country or don’t fully understand the mechanism of converting CST to other time zones, you can easily reach out to our Time Zone Converter. Today online time zone tools are very useful to find out time whenever you want and wherever you are. 

Major Territories in CST Time

In order to convert time correctly, first, you need to know the territories that are located in specific time zones. The Central Time Zone covers the continents of North America and South America. Specifically, it’s used in the United States, Mexico, Central America, some parts of Canada, some Caribbean Islands, and in the Eastern part of the Pacific Ocean. However, Canada, as well as the USA and Mexico use various time zones, including Mountain Time, Pacific Time, Alaska Time, Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, and more, not to mention standard and daylight times. 

The reason is that such big countries like the United States or Canada are located in more than one time zone. Therefore, different territories observe different times. Specifically, Central Standard TIme covers 20 states in the US (partly or entirely) and three provinces in Canada. It’s also used in Mexico and Central America. Here is the entire list of territories that observe CST.

North America

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida (partly)
  • Illinois
  • Indiana (partly)
  • Kansas (partly)
  • Kentucky (partly)
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan (partly)
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska (partly)
  • North Dakota (partly)
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota (partly)
  • Tennessee (partly)
  • Texas 
  • Wisconsin


  • Manitoba
  • Ontario (partly)
  • Saskatchewan (partly)


  • Aguascalientes
  • Campeche
  • Chiapas
  • Coahuila
  • Colima
  • Distrito Federal
  • Durango
  • Guanajuato
  • Guerrero
  • Hidalgo
  • Jalisco
  • León
  • Michoacán
  • Morelos
  • México
  • Nuevo León
  • Oaxaca
  • Puebla
  • Querétaro
  • Quintana Roo
  • San Luis Potosí
  • Tabasco
  • Tamaulipas
  • Tlaxcala
  • Veracruz
  • Yucatán
  • Zacatecas

Central America

  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua

Comparison of CDT vs CST

Even though people often confuse CST with CDT, if you understand the purpose of Daylight Saving Time (DST), everything will get back to normal. How so? What does DST have to do with CDT or CST? Let’s start from the beginning. 

CST stands for Central Standard Time, while CDT is an abbreviation of Central Daylight Time. The main difference between them is that CST is an hour behind CDT. And remember that these two time zones are never used together.

Daylight Time is usually used during the spring and summer. Its main purpose is to extend daylight and save energy. However, not all countries observe Daylight Saving Time. The same applies to Central Time. Some territories that observe Central Standard Time use DST from the second Sunday of March and to the first Sunday of November. During this period, the main time zone for Central Time Zone territories is CDT instead of CST. Central Standard Time is used during the remaining period of the year. 

So, here are the differences between CDT and CST:

  1. CDT is 5 hours behind the UTC; CST is 6 hours behind the UTC. 
  2. CDT is used during the summer and spring. CST is used during the fall and winter.
  3. CDT is a particular time zone that observes Daylight Saving Time; CST is a particular time zone that observes Standard Time. 

Therefore, both time zones are used on the same territories but during different seasons. Consequently, the difference between CDT and CST is 1 hour. 

FAQ about Central Standard Time

Which months does CST cover?

Central Standard Time usually continues from the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March. Therefore, it covers November, December, January, February, and March. If a territory doesn’t observe Central Daylight Time, then CST also extends on the remaining months (April, May, June, July, August, September, and October).

Which countries observe Central Standard Time?

The Central Time Zone covers the continents of North and South America. The countries that observe CST are located in Central America, South America, North America, and Oceania. In Central America, this zone includes the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In South America, CST is observed by the Ecuadorian province of Galápagos. In Oceania, CST is used by the Chilean Easter Island. Certain parts of Canada and the United States also observe CST. 

Is CT the same as CST?

No. Central Time (CT) is a time zone that includes Central Standard Time (CST), as well as Central Daylight Time (CDT). On the contrary, CST has nothing to do with daylight time. Central Time isn’t static. It switches between

CDT and CST. But CST always remains the same. Therefore, sometimes CT and CST are the same but sometimes CT differs from CST by one hour. 

What is the current CST time in the USA?

Central Standard Time is always 6 hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−06:00). But US time varies from state to state. Use Time In World Cities to find out the exact time in different parts of the United States at a given moment. 

How to convert UTC to CST?

Coordinated Universal Time is 6 hours ahead of Central Standard Time. Therefore, in order to convert UTC to CST, you need to subtract one hour.