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ISO 8601 Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times is an international standard covering the exchange of date and time-related data. It was issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was first published in 1988. The purpose of this standard is to provide an unambiguous and well-defined method of representing dates and times, so as to avoid misinterpretation of numeric representations of dates and times, particularly when data is transferred between countries with different conventions for writing numeric dates and times.

The standard organizes the data so the largest temporal term (the year) appears first in the data string and progresses to the smallest term (the second). It also provides for a standardized method of communicating time-based information across time zones by attaching an offset to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

An example of an ISO 8601 time is 2012-12-31T23:59:59Z, the last second of 2012.

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