Oracle Database

How do I Convert to TIMESTAMP in Oracle SQL?

Oracle database comprises many built-in useful and widely used functions which help its users to deal with different data types and their conversion. One such function is “TO_TIMESTAMP” which converts the string value or date value into a TIMESTAMP. Moreover, you can also use other functions like “SYSDATE” as the input for this function to convert its output into a TIMESTAMP.

This post will discuss the following content:

Overview of Oracle TO_TIMESTAMP Function

The Oracle TO_TIMESTAMP is a built-in function that converts a CHAR, VARCHAR2, NCHAR, NVARCHAR2, or DATE data type value to a TIMESTAMP data type.

This function takes three arguments as the input, let’s see its syntax:

TO_TIMESTAMP(Input_value, Conversion_format, nlsparam)

Here in the above syntax:

  • The “Input_value” (compulsory argument) is the value of the string or date that will convert to TIMESTAMP.
  • The “Conversion_format” (Optional argument) is the format parameter specifying the input value’s format. There are many formats available for the conversion but make sure that it matches the “Input_value” style.
  • The “nlsparam” (Optional argument) aids in specifying the output values (day, month names) language.

Oracle offers different formats in which you can convert your string values. Let’s enlist some of the parameters for the formatting below to understand them:

Format Parameters Explanation
YYYY 4-digit Year
YY 2-digit Year
MON Abbreviation of the Month (Jan-Dec)
MM Number of the Month (1-12)
DD Number of the Day (1-31)
HH24 Current Hour using 24 Hours Format (0-23)
HH Current Hour using 12 Hours
SS Seconds (0-59)
MI Minutes (0-59)

Now we will use the TO_TIMESTAMP function to convert the character string and current system date to a TIMESTAMP.

Conversion of a Character String to a Timestamp

This function converts a string of any data type, such as CHAR, VARCHAR2, and NCHAR to a TIMESTAMP data type. To do so, open the Oracle database using SQL Developer or SQL PLUS utility and execute the command given below:

SELECT TO_TIMESTAMP('1999/DEC/24 10:19:11', 'YYYY/MON/DD HH24:MI:SS') AS "Timestamp"


The output returned the TIMESTAMP after converting the provided string in the column named “Timestamp”.

Conversion of System Date and Time to a Timestamp

The TO_TIMESTAMP function can also call the “SYSDATE” function and use its value as the input for conversion. Let’s utilize the command given below to convert the system’s current date and time into a TIMESTAMP:

FROM dual;

In the above command, the TO_TIMESTAMP function extracts the value of the system’s current date and time and converts it to the specified format. The output will return in a column named “System_Date_Timestamp”.


The output successfully returns the TIMESTAMP after converting the system’s date and time in the specified format in a column named “System_Date_Timestamp”.


The Oracle “TO_TIMESTAMP” function is utilized to convert the string or date value to a TIMESTAMP data type. This function takes three arguments, the input value is compulsory and two are optional arguments (format parameters and nlsparam). The post discussed the TO_TIMESTAMP function and how users can convert a string or system’s date and time into a TIMESTAMP data type.

About the author

Nimrah Ch

I’m a technical writer with a Bachelor's in Software Engineering and Certification in Cyber Security. Through my research and writing, I strive to provide readers with in-depth, informative articles that can help them make informed decisions about their technological needs.