Skip to main content Accessibility Feedback

Converting and formatting dates and times with the vanilla JS Intl.DateTimeFormat() constructor

In a past article, we looked at formatting dates and times using the Date.toLocaleString() method.

Today, we’re going to look at the Intl.DateTimeFormat() method, and when and why you’d choose one over the other.

How it works

The Intl object was designed to make Internationalization of location-specific data easier. The DateTimeFormat() is a method used to format dates and times.

First, you create a new Intl.DateTimeFormat() instance.

This accepts a locale (for example, en-US for US English, or en-GB for British English). This argument tells the method what language to format the date and time into.

var formatter = new Intl.DateTimeFormat('en-US');

You can have more fine-grained control over how the output is formatted using a series of options as a second argument.

This example uses a short time formatting and a long date formatting. What that looks like varies from one locale to the next, and from one browser to another (which is totally fine, cede control on this).

// This will use a short time formatting and a long date formatting
// What those look like varies from one locale to the next
var formatter = new Intl.DateTimeFormat('en-US', {
	timeStyle: 'short',
	dateStyle: 'full'

Next, you can use the instance to format one or more Date objects.

// Get the current date and time
var date = new Date();

// Format it into a string

You can chain these without creating a variable for your Intl.DateTimeFormat() instance if you’d like.

// Get the current date and time
var date = new Date();

// Format it into a string
new Intl.DateTimeFormat('en-US', {
	timeStyle: 'short',
	dateStyle: 'full'

You can view a full list of options arguments and what they do on the Mozilla Developer Network.

What’s the difference between Intl.DateTimeFormat() and Date.toLocaleString()

Not much.

Older implementations of the Date.toLocalString() method did not support locale or options arguments, and just used whatever the current user’s locale was.

Once the Intl.DateTimeFormat() method rolled out, the options available to it were also rolled into Date.toLocaleString().

If you’re formatting multiple dates with the same options, the Intl.DateTimeFormat() method will give you better performance and should be preferred. Otherwise, they’re identical in behavior.

Browser compatibility

The Intl.DateTimeFormat() method works in all modern browsers, and back to IE 11.