How To Handle Timezone Conversions in Snowflake with CONVERT_TIMEZONE Function

This is some text inside of a div block.
May 2, 2024

In this tutorial, we will explore how to use the `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function in Snowflake to convert timestamps from one time zone to another. This function is particularly useful when working with data that spans multiple time zones and you need to standardize timestamps for comparison or reporting purposes.

What Is the CONVERT_TIMEZONE Function?

The `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function in Snowflake is used to convert a timestamp from one time zone to another. It can be used with either two or three arguments, depending on whether the source timestamp includes a time zone or not.

What Is The Syntax Of Snowflake's CONVERT_TIMEZONE Function

The `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function can be used with either two or three arguments:

Three-argument version

CONVERT_TIMEZONE( [source_tz], [target_tz], [source_timestamp_ntz] )

Two-argument version

CONVERT_TIMEZONE( [target_tz], [source_timestamp] )

The difference between the two versions lies in the type of timestamp being converted. The three-argument version is used when the source timestamp does not include a time zone (i.e., `TIMESTAMP_NTZ`), while the two-argument version can be used with any timestamp variant.

How To Use The CONVERT_TIMEZONE Function

Here are some examples of how to use the `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function:

Converting a timestamp from UTC to Eastern Standard Time (EST)

SELECT CONVERT_TIMEZONE('UTC', 'EST', '2022-03-23 20:59:51.000') AS converted_time;

This would return the timestamp adjusted to the EST time zone.

Converting the current timestamp from the default time zone (PDT) to UTC


This would return the current timestamp in UTC.

Common Challenges and Solutions

While using the `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function, you might encounter some challenges:

  • When using the `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function with an "Etc/GMT-x" time zone, the result is reversed from what would normally be expected due to the way these time zones are labeled in the IANA time zone database.
  • Daylight Saving Time (DST) can affect the time offset calculation when converting time zones.
  • Snowflake adheres to the IANA time zone database, ensuring that the latest changes and updates to time zones are automatically incorporated. However, this might cause some discrepancies if your data is based on an outdated time zone database.

Best Practices for Using CONVERT_TIMEZONE

Here are some best practices to follow when using the `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function:

  • Always specify the source time zone when using the three-argument version of the function. This ensures that the function correctly interprets the source timestamp.
  • Consider using the `TRY_` prefix with the `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function. This returns a `NULL` value instead of raising an error when the conversion cannot be performed, which is useful in situations where conversion errors are relatively infrequent.
  • Keep in mind the impact of Daylight Saving Time (DST) when converting between time zones that observe DST.

Further Learning

For more complex operations or when working with Snowflake's Snowpark for Python, you can use the `snowflake.snowpark.functions.convert_timezone` function. This function has a slightly different syntax and is designed for use in Python.

  • Learn more about Snowflake's Snowpark for Python and its functions.
  • Explore other date and time functions in Snowflake.
  • Understand the impact of Daylight Saving Time (DST) on time zone conversions.

Recap of CONVERT_TIMEZONE Function in Snowflake

The `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function in Snowflake is a powerful tool for managing and standardizing timestamps across different time zones. It is essential for users who need to perform accurate time-based data analysis in a multi-time zone environment.

  • The `CONVERT_TIMEZONE` function can be used with either two or three arguments.
  • The function is useful for standardizing timestamps for comparison or reporting purposes.
  • Always consider the impact of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and the IANA time zone database when converting time zones.

Keep reading

See all