We’ll Learn how to use the ESP32 and Arduino IDE to request date and time from an NTP server. In data recording applications, getting the date and time is useful for timestamping readings. The ESP32 requires an Internet connection to obtain time from an NTP Server, but no additional hardware is required.

NTP (Network Time Protocol)

Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a networking protocol that allows computer systems to synchronise their clocks. In other words, it is utilised in a network to synchronise computer clock times.

NTP servers, such as pool.ntp.org, allow anyone to request time as a client. The ESP32 is an NTP Client in this example, requesting time from an NTP Server (pool.ntp.org).


The NTP Server is built on a three-level hierarchical structure, each of which is referred to as a stratum. There are incredibly precise atomic/radio clocks that offer the exact time on the first level (Stratum 0). The second level (Stratum 1) is linked directly to the first level and so contains the most precise time accessible from the first level. The device at the third and final level (Stratum 2) requests the date/time from the second level from the NTP server. Each level in the hierarchy synchronises with the level above it.


The server will use a client-server model to obtain the date and time with our ESP32 via the NTP server. We’ll utilise the pool.ntp.org NTP server, which is easily available from anywhere on the planet. The client will be our ESP32 development board, which will connect to the NTP server over UDP on port 123. The server (pool.ntp.org) will be able to connect to the client using this port. After the connection is established, the ESP32 will submit a request to the server. When the NTP gets the request, it sends the time stamp, which contains the time and date information.

Getting Date and Time from ESP32 NTP Server

You don’t need to install any libraries to get date and time with the ESP32. To use the time.h library, simply include it in your code.

The code below obtains date and time from the NTP Server and displays the information on the Serial Monitor. It was created using the time.h library’s example as a guide.


NTP server.txt
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16 Nov 2021 by gowri s kumar
16 Nov 2021
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#include <WiFi.h>
#include "time.h"
const char* ssid     = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_SSID";
const char* password = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_PASSWORD";
const char* ntpServer = "pool.ntp.org";
const long  gmtOffset_sec = 0;
const int   daylightOffset_sec = 3600;
void setup(){
  // Connect to Wi-Fi
  Serial.print("Connecting to ");
  WiFi.begin(ssid, password);
  while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED) {
  Serial.println("WiFi connected.");
  // Init and get the time
  configTime(gmtOffset_sec, daylightOffset_sec, ntpServer);
  //disconnect WiFi as it's no longer needed
void loop(){
void printLocalTime(){
  struct tm timeinfo;
    Serial.println("Failed to obtain time");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%A, %B %d %Y %H:%M:%S");
  Serial.print("Day of week: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%A");
  Serial.print("Month: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%B");
  Serial.print("Day of Month: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%d");
  Serial.print("Year: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%Y");
  Serial.print("Hour: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%H");
  Serial.print("Hour (12 hour format): ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%I");
  Serial.print("Minute: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%M");
  Serial.print("Second: ");
  Serial.println(&timeinfo, "%S");
  Serial.println("Time variables");
  char timeHour[3];
  strftime(timeHour,3, "%H", &timeinfo);
  char timeWeekDay[10];
  strftime(timeWeekDay,10, "%A", &timeinfo);


First, include the libraries to connect to Wi-Fi and get time.

#include <WiFi.h>

#include “time.h”

Setting SSID and Password

Type your network credentials in the following variables, so that the ESP32 is able to establish an Internet connection and get date and time from the NTP server.

// Replace with your network credentials

const char* ssid = “REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_SSID”;

const char* password = “REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_PASSWORD”;

NTP Server and Time Settings

Then, you need to define the following variables to configure and get time from an NTP server: ntpServer, gmtOffset_sec and daylightOffset_sec.

NTP Server

We’ll request the time from pool.ntp.org, which is a cluster of timeservers that anyone can use to request the time.

const char* ntpServer = “pool.ntp.org”;

GMT Offset

The gmtOffset_sec variable defines the offset in seconds between your time zone and GMT. We live in Portugal, so the time offset is 0. Change the time gmtOffset_sec variable to match your time zone.

const long gmtOffset_sec = 0;

Daylight Offset

The daylightOffset_sec variable defines the offset in seconds for daylight saving time. It is generally one hour, that corresponds to 3600 seconds

const int daylightOffset_sec = 3600;


In the setup() you initialize the Serial communication at baud rate 115200 to print the results:


These next lines connect the ESP32 to your router.

// Connect to Wi-Fi

Serial.print(“Connecting to “);


WiFi.begin(ssid, password);

while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED) {





Serial.println(“WiFi connected.”);

Configure the time with the settings you’ve defined earlier:

configTime(gmtOffset_sec, daylightOffset_sec, ntpServer);


After configuring the time, call the printLocalTime() function to print the time in the Serial Monitor.

In that function, create a time structure (struct tm) called timeinfo that contains all the details about the time (min, sec, hour, etc…).

struct tm timeinfo;

The tm structure contains a calendar date and time broken down into its components:

  • tm_sec: seconds after the minute;
  • tm_min: minutes after the hour;
  • tm_hour: hours since midnight;
  • tm_mday: day of the month;
  • tm_year: years since 1900;
  • tm_wday: days since Sunday;
  • tm_yday: days since January 1;
  • tm_isdst: Daylight Saving Time flag;

Get all the details about date and time and save them on the timeinfo structure.


  Serial.println(“Failed to obtain time”);



Then, print all details about the time in the Serial Monitor.

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%A, %B %d %Y %H:%M:%S”);

Serial.print(“Day of week: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%A”);

Serial.print(“Month: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%B”);

Serial.print(“Day of Month: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%d”);

Serial.print(“Year: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%Y”);

Serial.print(“Hour: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%H”);

Serial.print(“Hour (12 hour format): “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%I”);

Serial.print(“Minute: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%M”);

Serial.print(“Second: “);

Serial.println(&timeinfo, “%S”);

To access the members of the date and time structure you can use the following specifiers:

%AFull weekday name
%BFull month name
%dDay of the month
%HHour in 24h format
%IHour in 12h format

Other specifiers, such as abbreviated month name (percent b), abbreviated weekday name (percent a), week number with the first Sunday as the first day of week one (percent U), and others, can be used to retrieve information in a different format (read more).

If you wish to keep time information in variables, we also offer you an example. Create a char variable with a length of three characters if you wish to save the hour into a variable called timeHour (it must save the hour characters plus the terminating character). Then, using the strftime() method, copy the information about the hour from the timeinfo structure into the timeHour variable.

Serial.println(“Time variables”);

char timeHour[3];

strftime(timeHour,3, “%H”, &timeinfo);


To get other variables, use a similar process. For example, for the week day, we need to create a char variable with a length of 10 characters because the longest day of the week contains 9 characters (saturday).

char timeWeekDay[10];

strftime(timeWeekDay,10, “%A”, &timeinfo);




You can test the example after inputting your network credentials and changing the variables to alter your timezone and daylight saving time.

The code should be uploaded to your ESP32 board. Make sure you’re using the correct board and COM port. Press the ESP32 “Enable” button after uploading the code, and you should obtain the date and time every second.


We learnt how to receive date and time from an NTP server using an ESP32 programmed with the Arduino IDE in this lesson. You may now utilise what you’ve learned to date sensor readings in your own projects using what you’ve learned here.

Only if the ESP32 is connected to the Internet will this method function. If your project does not have internet connectivity, you will need to use another approach.

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