# Determine timezone from latitude/longitude without using web services like Geonames.org

is there any possibility to determine the timezone of point (lat/lon) without using webservices? Geonames.org is not stable enough for me to use 🙁 I need this to work in PHP.

Thanks

Contents

### Method 1

I had this problem a while back and did exactly what adam suggested:

• convert it to a compact lat/lon -> timezone list
• use an R-Tree implementation to efficiently lookup the nearest city (or rather, its timezone) to a given coordinate

IIRC it took less than 1 second to populate the R-Tree, and it could then perform thousands of lookups per second (both on a 5 year old PC).

### Method 2

How exact do your results have to be? If a rough estimate is enough, calculate the offset yourself:

`offset = direction * longitude * 24 / 360`

where direction is 1 for east, -1 for west, and longitude is in (-180,180)

### Method 3

I ran into this problem while working on another project and looked into it very deeply. I found all of the existing solutions to be lacking in major ways.

Downloading the GeoNames data and using some spatial index to look up the nearest point is definitely an option, and it will yield the correct result a lot of the time, but it can easily fail if a query point is on the wrong side of a time zone border from the nearest point in the database.

A more accurate method is to use a digital map of the time zones and to write code to find the polygon in that map that contains a given query point. Thankfully, there is an excellent map of the time zones of the world available at http://efele.net/maps/tz/world/ (not maintained anymore). To write an efficient query engine, you need to:

• Parse the ESRI shapefile format into a useful internal representation.
• Write point-in-polygon code to test whether a given query point is in a given polygon.
• Write an efficient spatial index on top of the polygon data so that you don’t need to check every polygon to find the containing one.
• Handle queries that are not contained by any polygon (e.g., in the ocean). In such cases, you should “snap to” the nearest polygon up to a certain distance, and revert to the “natural” time zone (the one determined by longitude alone) in the open ocean. To do this, you will need code to compute the distance between a query point and a line segment of a polygon (this is non-trivial since latitude and longitude are a non-Euclidean coordinate system), and your spatial index will need to be able to return nearby polygons, not just potentially containing polygons.

Each of those are worthy of their own Stack Overflow question/answer page.

After concluding that none of the existing solutions out there met my needs, I wrote my own solution and made it available here:

AskGeo uses a digital map and has a highly optimized spatial index that allows for running more than 10,000 queries per second on my computer in a single thread. And it is thread safe, so even higher throughput is certainly possible. This is a serious piece of code, and it took us a long time to develop, so we are offering it under a commercial license.

It is written in Java, so using it in PHP would involve using:

http://php-java-bridge.sourceforge.net/doc/how_it_works.php

We are also open to porting it for a bounty. For details on the pricing, and for detailed documentation, see http://askgeo.com.

I hope this is useful. It certainly was useful for the project I was working on.

### Method 4

I know this is old, but I spent some time looking for this answer. Found something very useful. Google does time zone lookups by long/lat. No free tier anymore :-/

### Method 5

You should be able to, if you know the polygon of the timezone to see if a given lat/lon is inside it.

### Method 6

For areas on land, there are some shapefile maps that have been made for the timezones of the tz (Olson) database. They’re not updated quite as regularly as the tz database itself, but it’s a great starting point and seems to be very accurate for most purposes.

### Method 7

```// <a href="https://getridbug.com/cdn-cgi/l/email-protection" class="__cf_email__" data-cfemail="dbb9beb59bb1ab">[email protected]</a>

function get_nearest_timezone(\$cur_lat, \$cur_long, \$country_code = '') {
\$timezone_ids = (\$country_code) ? DateTimeZone::listIdentifiers(DateTimeZone::PER_COUNTRY, \$country_code)
: DateTimeZone::listIdentifiers();

if(\$timezone_ids && is_array(\$timezone_ids) && isset(\$timezone_ids[0])) {

\$time_zone = '';
\$tz_distance = 0;

//only one identifier?
if (count(\$timezone_ids) == 1) {
\$time_zone = \$timezone_ids[0];
} else {

foreach(\$timezone_ids as \$timezone_id) {
\$timezone = new DateTimeZone(\$timezone_id);
\$location = \$timezone->getLocation();
\$tz_lat   = \$location['latitude'];
\$tz_long  = \$location['longitude'];

\$theta    = \$cur_long - \$tz_long;
\$distance = acos(\$distance);
// echo '<br />'.\$timezone_id.' '.\$distance;

if (!\$time_zone || \$tz_distance > \$distance) {
\$time_zone   = \$timezone_id;
\$tz_distance = \$distance;
}

}
}
return  \$time_zone;
}
return 'none?';
}
//timezone for one NY co-ordinate
echo get_nearest_timezone(40.772222,-74.164581) ;
// more faster and accurate if you can pass the country code
echo get_nearest_timezone(40.772222, -74.164581, 'US') ;```

### Method 8

I’ve written a small Java class to do this. It could be easily translated to PHP. The database is embedded in the code itself. It’s accurate to 22km.

The whole code is basically stuff like this:

```         if (lng < -139.5) {
if (lat < 68.5) {
if (lng < -140.5) {
return 371;
} else {
return 325;
}```

…so I presume a translation to PHP would be easy.

### Method 9

Unfortunately, time zones are not regular enough for some simple function. See the map in Wikipedia – Time Zone

However, some very rough approximation can be calculated: 1 hour difference corresponds to 15 degrees longitude (360 / 24).

### Method 10

Another solution is to import a table of cities with timezones and then to use the Haversine formula to find the nearest city in that table, relevant to your coordinates.
I have posted a full description here: http://sylnsr.blogspot.com/2012/12/find-nearest-location-by-latitude-and.html

Note that the accuracy of the look-up will be based on how comprehensive your look-up data is.

Credits and References:
MySQL Great Circle Distance (Haversine formula)

### Method 11

You can use time zone boundaries, provided here:

http://www.opensource.apple.com/source/TimeZoneData/

### Method 12

Not sure if this is useful or not, but I built a database of timezone shapes (for North America only), which is painstakingly accurate and current not just for borders, but also for daylight saving time observance. Also shapes for unofficial exceptions. So you could query the set of shapes for a given location could return multiple shapes that apply to that location, and choose the correct one for the time of year.

You can see an image of the shapes at http://OnTimeZone.com/OnTimeZone_shapes.gif. Blue shapes are around areas that do not observe daylight saving time, magenta shapes those that do observe daylight saving time, and neon green shapes (small and tough to see at that zoom level) are for areas with unofficial deviation from the official time zone. Lots more detail on that available at the OnTimeZone.com site.

### Method 13

I downloaded data that matches 5 digit zip codes to time zones, and data that determines the UTC offset for each time zone during DST and non-DST periods.

Then I simplified the data to only consider the first three digits of the ZIP Code, since all ZIP codes that share the first three digits are very close to each other; the three digits identify a unique mail distribution center.

The resulting Json file does require you to decide whether or not you are subject to DST currently, and it probably has some inaccuracy here and there. But it’s a pretty good local solution that is very compact and simple to query.

### Method 14

I use geocoder.ca

Input any location in North America, Output geocodes, area codes and timezone in json or jsonp.

Area Code: (202)
Time Zone: America/New_York

Json:

`{"standard":{"staddress":"Pennsylvania Ave","stnumber":"1600","prov":"DC","city":"WASHINGTON","postal":"20011","confidence":"0.8"},"longt":"-76.972948","TimeZone":"America/New_York","AreaCode":"202","latt":"38.874533"}`

### Method 15

You can use Google Timezone api. `https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/timezone/json?location=39.6034810,-119.6822510&timestamp=1331161200&key=YOUR_API_KEY`

```{
"dstOffset" : 0,
"rawOffset" : -28800,
"status" : "OK",
"timeZoneId" : "America/Los_Angeles",
"timeZoneName" : "Pacific Standard Time"
}```

### Method 16

```You can get the timezone based on the location in javascript.

function initAutocomplete() {
// Create the autocomplete object, restricting the search to geographical
// location types.
/** @type {!HTMLInputElement} */(document.getElementById('Location')),
{types: ['geocode']});

// When the user selects an address from the dropdown, populate the address
// fields in the form.
}

// Get the place details from the autocomplete object.
var place = autocomplete.getPlace();

fnGettimezone(\$('#Location').serialize());
for (var component in componentForm) {
document.getElementById(component).value = '';
document.getElementById(component).disabled = false;
}

// Get each component of the address from the place details
// and fill the corresponding field on the form.
for (var i = 0; i < place.address_components.length; i++) {
}
}

}

function fnGettimezone(location) {
\$.ajax({
dataType: 'json',
success: function (result) {
console.log(result);
// result is already a parsed javascript object that you could manipulate directly here
var myObject = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(result));
lat = myObject.results[0].geometry.location.lat;
lng = myObject.results[0].geometry.location.lng;
console.log(myObject);

\$.ajax({
url: "https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/timezone/json?location=" + lat + "," + lng + "&timestamp=1331161200&sensor=false",
dataType: 'json',
success: function (result) {
// result is already a parsed javascript object that you could manipulate directly here
var myObject = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(result));
\$('#timezone').val(myObject.timeZoneName);

}
});

}
});
}```

### Method 17

This project builds a shapefile from data from OpenStreetMap and link to multiple libraries that handle it.
For PHP you can look at https://github.com/minube/geo-timezone