Conversion failed when converting date and/or time from character string while inserting datetime

There are many formats supported by SQL Server – see the MSDN Books Online on CAST and CONVERT. Most of those formats are dependent on what settings you have – therefore, these settings might work some times – and sometimes not.

The way to solve this is to use the (slightly adapted) ISO-8601 date format that is supported by SQL Server – this format works always – regardless of your SQL Server language and dateformat settings.

The ISO-8601 format is supported by SQL Server comes in two flavors:

  • YYYYMMDD for just dates (no time portion); note here: no dashes!, that’s very important! YYYY-MM-DD is NOT independent of the dateformat settings in your SQL Server and will NOT work in all situations!


  • YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS for dates and times – note here: this format has dashes (but they can be omitted), and a fixed T as delimiter between the date and time portion of your DATETIME.

This is valid for SQL Server 2000 and newer.

So in your specific case – use these strings:

insert into table1 values('2012-02-21T18:10:00', '2012-01-01T00:00:00');

and you should be fine (note: you need to use the international 24-hour format rather than 12-hour AM/PM format for this).

Alternatively: if you’re on SQL Server 2008 or newer, you could also use the DATETIME2 datatype (instead of plain DATETIME) and your current INSERT would just work without any problems! 🙂 DATETIME2 is a lot better and a lot less picky on conversions – and it’s the recommend date/time data types for SQL Server 2008 or newer anyway.

   CAST('02-21-2012 6:10:00 PM' AS DATETIME2),     -- works just fine
   CAST('01-01-2012 12:00:00 AM' AS DATETIME2)   -- works just fine  

Don’t ask me why this whole topic is so tricky and somewhat confusing – that’s just the way it is. But with the YYYYMMDD format, you should be fine for any version of SQL Server and for any language and dateformat setting in your SQL Server.

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