How do I parse an ISO 8601-formatted date and time?

isoparse function from python-dateutil

The python-dateutil package has dateutil.parser.isoparse to parse not only RFC 3339 datetime strings like the one in the question, but also other ISO 8601 date and time strings that don’t comply with RFC 3339 (such as ones with no UTC offset, or ones that represent only a date).

>>> import dateutil.parser
>>> dateutil.parser.isoparse('2008-09-03T20:56:35.450686Z') # RFC 3339 format
datetime.datetime(2008, 9, 3, 20, 56, 35, 450686, tzinfo=tzutc())
>>> dateutil.parser.isoparse('2008-09-03T20:56:35.450686') # ISO 8601 extended format
datetime.datetime(2008, 9, 3, 20, 56, 35, 450686)
>>> dateutil.parser.isoparse('20080903T205635.450686') # ISO 8601 basic format
datetime.datetime(2008, 9, 3, 20, 56, 35, 450686)
>>> dateutil.parser.isoparse('20080903') # ISO 8601 basic format, date only
datetime.datetime(2008, 9, 3, 0, 0)

The python-dateutil package also has dateutil.parser.parse. Compared with isoparse, it is presumably less strict, but both of them are quite forgiving and will attempt to interpret the string that you pass in. If you want to eliminate the possibility of any misreads, you need to use something stricter than either of these functions.

Comparison with Python 3.7+’s built-in datetime.datetime.fromisoformat

dateutil.parser.isoparse is a full ISO-8601 format parser, but in Python ≤ 3.10 fromisoformat is deliberately not. In Python 3.11, fromisoformat supports almost all strings in valid ISO 8601. See fromisoformat‘s docs for this cautionary caveat. (See this answer).

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