What Countries Use Military Time?

Learn what countries use military time, and why it's used as standard practice in some industries.

Updated: May 2, 2022

Military time is, naturally, mostly used by the military, like the Navy, Armed Forces, Air Forces, and Marine Corps. It's often known as the 24-hour clock or 24-hour time.

As a quick explanation of what military time is, instead of saying or writing that it's 1 PM or 13:00, you'd say it's "thirteen hundred hours" if you're using military time clock. Likewise, if it's 1 AM, you'd say it's "zero one hundred hours" - and so on.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other NATO countries use military time for military, aviation, and navigation services.

Why Is Military Time Used?

There are so many ways to describe what the time is. For example, you can say it's 1 PM or 1 o'clock or even 13:00 if you're speaking in digital time.

Military time is used to standardize how time is described within the military and some other professions. It provides a clear and consistent way of communicating what time it is, which avoids confusion and irregularities in reports, messages, and conversations.

Being on time, or understanding what time a task needs to be completed, is always important, but it's especially important in the military.

Missions, shipments, messages, or reports are often time-sensitive for tactical reasons. Being late or confused about what time a task needs to be done can have severe consequences.

Because military time is a standardized way of communicating what time it is, it helps avoid confusion or irregularities in things like reports or messages - therefore preventing mistakes.

What Places Use Military Time?

In line with its name, military time is now mostly associated for its use in the military, including:

  • Navy
  • Army
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • Space Force

However, even though it was widely adopted by the armed forces, military time isn't just used by the military in the modern era.

Because it provides a clear way of communicating what time it is, military time is used across the world in all kinds of industries. Just like the Army, these industries use military time to avoid confusion when communicating the time.

For example, even though it varies per country, the following places/people will often use military time instead of regular time:

  • Governments
  • Public transportation services, including airlines
  • Hospitals and care facilities
  • Meteorologists
  • Astronomers

Difference Between Military Time and 24-Hour Clock

There are several differences between military time and 24-hour clock.

  • Military time doesn't have a colon. For example, 1:00 PM is 1300 in military time, and 13:00 in 24-hour clock.
  • Reading military time is different. 3:00 AM is zero three hundred hours in military time.

Does Europe Use Military Time?

Many countries across Europe use 24-hour clock, not military time.

In Europe, military time is commonly used in the aviation and maritime industries as well as in emergency services such as police and ambulance. Military time is also used in some military contexts. While the use of military time is not widespread in Europe, it is a relatively common practice in these specific domains.

Does the UK Use Military Time?

Most of the UK uses the 24-hour clock or 12-hour clock, not military time. So, telling the time will usually be expressed in digital when written, like 13:00, and either "1 o'clock", "1 PM" or "1 in the afternoon" when spoken.

However, some places in the UK use military time for ease, standardization, and accuracy, like the Armed Forces, Police, and Court of Law.

Some other industries may also use military time, but it can vary per establishment. For example, some hospitals (particularly in surgery) and some transportation services, like airplanes and trains, may use military time.

Does Australia Use Military Time?

Most of Australia doesn't use military time, as the general population tends to use 24-hour notation or "AM/PM" time.

This means that, when spoken, most places in Australia will say it's 4 PM and, when written, they'll write that it's either 4 PM or 16:00, like the digital clock.

Similar to many other countries around the world, the Australian Defence Force (including the Navy, Army, and Air Force) is also known for using military hours in speech and writing.

So, they'll likely say "sixteen hundred hours" or write "1600" to describe the time as 4 PM.

What Is the Opposite of Military Time?

You can express the time in so different ways. Across the globe, the most standard ways of describing the time include:

  • Using AM/PM
  • Saying "o'clock" after a number
  • Using digital time or the 24-hour clock
  • Using military time

Different countries use different expressions to describe what time it is - and it can vary per industry.

However, the "opposite" of military time is usually referred to as "standard" or "regular" time. This usually refers to any other way of telling the time that isn't military time.

So, for example, saying it's 1 PM instead of "thirteen hundred hours" is considered the opposite of military time.

Likewise, writing that it's 13:00 or saying it's "1 in the afternoon" or "1 o'clock" is also considered the opposite of military time.

Conclusion

Military time is unlike "normal" or "standard" time, as it refers to a very specific way of telling the time. It's mostly used because of its standardized form, which makes it easier to communicate what the time is without confusion.

It's also used because it's often considered quicker than having to say "AM" or "PM" after a number (to specify whether it's the morning or the afternoon).

While military time was widely adopted and popularized by the US Army, it's used across the world in different militaries. In some countries, you'll even find military time used by surgeons, astronauts, and pilots - although they likely have a different name for it.

To sum up, different places use military time, mostly for the same reason. It's not considered a "normal" way of telling the time for the general population, but it is considered standard in some professions and industries.


Author: Burak Özdemir

My name is Burak, and I used to have difficulties waking up in the morning due to unreliable alarm clocks. Over the past few years, I've dedicated part of my life to finding the best alarm clocks and sharing my knowledge with people through this blog.