C# String to Datetime Conversion

This article will discuss the built-in functions that you can use to convert a string representation to its equivalent DateTime value using C#. The .NET framework provides several functions that developers should be aware of to convert a string to a DateTime type.

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C# string to DateTime Conversion

Below are the functions that you can, as a developer, use to convert a string to a DateTime.

Convert.ToDateTime()

This method has too many overloads; however, we will list the most used ones.

  • ToDateTime(String): Converts a string to a DateTime datatype.
DateTime dateTime = Convert.ToDateTime("04/01/2021");
Console.WriteLine(dateTime);
  • ToDateTime(String, IFormatProvider): Converts a string to a DateTime format, using specific formatting information.
using System.Globalization;
DateTime dateTime = Convert.ToDateTime("04/01/2021", culture);
Console.WriteLine(dateTime);

DateTime Exceptions

The program will throw out an error if the string is not in the correct format.

DateTime dateTime = Convert.ToDateTime("04/021/2021");
Console.WriteLine(dateTime);

Will throw the error message below:

System.FormatException: 'String was not recognized as a valid DateTime.'

DateTime.Parse()

The DateTime.Parse has few overloads. We will discuss the most used ones in detail below.

  • DateTime.Parse(String): Converts a string to a Date
DateTime dateTime;
string dateString = "2/16/2021 12:15:49 PM";
dateTime = DateTime.Parse(dateString);
Console.WriteLine(dateTime);
  • DateTime.Parse(String, IFormatProvider): Converts a string to a Date by using culture-specific format information.
DateTime dateTime = DateTime.ParseExact("01/01/2021", "yyyyMMddHHmmssfff", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);
Console.WriteLine(dateTime.ToString());
  • Parse(String, IFormatProvider, DateTimeStyles):  Converts a string to a DateTime using culture-specific format information and a formatting style.
DateTime dt = DateTime.Parse("2021/01/01", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, DateTimeStyles.AdjustToUniversal);
Console.WriteLine(dt);

DateTime.ParseExact()

ParseExact is another method to convert a string representation of a DateTime to DateTime datatype. Below are some of the most used overloads of this function.

  • ParseExact(String, String, IFormatProvider): Converts a string to a DateTime datatype using the specified format and culture-specific format.
string format = "d";
CultureInfo provider = CultureInfo.CurrentCulture;
DateTime result = DateTime.ParseExact("01/31/2021", format, provider);
Console.WriteLine(result.ToString());
  • ParseExact(String, String, IFormatProvider, DateTimeStyles): Converts a string to a DateTime datatype using the specified format, culture-specific format information, and DateTime style.
CultureInfo enUS = new CultureInfo("en-US");
DateTime dateValue = DateTime.ParseExact("01/31/2021 10:30 AM", "g", enUS, DateTimeStyles.AdjustToUniversal);
Console.WriteLine(dateValue);

DateTime.TryParse()

Another method provided by the .NET framework allows you to convert a string to a DateTime format. Below are the most used overloads for this method:

  • TryParse(String, DateTime): Converts a string to DateTime datatype, then returns a value indicating if the conversion succeeded or not.
DateTime dateValue;
var format = new[] { "dd/MM/yyyy", "yyyy-MM-dd" };
if (DateTime.TryParseExact("01/31/2021", format, CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, DateTimeStyles.None, out dateValue))
{
    Console.WriteLine("Date is valid!");
}
else
{
    Console.WriteLine("Date is invalid!");
}

Difference between DateTime.Parse(), DateTime.ParseExact() and DateTime.TryParse() 

DateTime.Parse() will throw an exception if it cannot parse the string value to its equivalence in DateTime, whereas DateTime.TryParse() will return a boolean value based on the conversion result.

On the other hand, DateTime.ParseExact() allows you to specify the string format that you are trying to parse.

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