Spain has two time zones and observes daylight saving time, also known as summer time. The vast majority of Spain is at Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +1:00 for the winter months and UTC +2:00 for daylight saving time. In other words, the standard time for most of Spain is one hour greater than UTC, but when Daylight Saving Time takes effect, it’s two hours ahead. However, the Canary Islands are in a different time zone Spain. This part of Spain is an hour behind the rest of the country, at UTC 0:00 for standard time and UTC +1:00 during Daylight Saving Time.
Since 1996, the hour change Spain has occurred on the morning of the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. In other words, the Spanish set their clocks forward an hour early in the morning on the last Sunday in March. Then, early in the morning on the last Sunday in October, they turn their clocks back an hour. A popular way to remember which way to shift the clock is the phrase “spring forward, fall back.”
The history of time zone Spain started on December 31, 1900, when mainland Spain switched to UTC. During World War II, Spain adjusted to German time, UTC +1:00. Through the years, the time has remained an hour ahead of UTC. A consequence is that, compared to many other parts of the world, the sun rises and sets later in Spain. Since adopting a standard time in the 1920s, the Canary Islands have in effect been an hour behind the other areas of Spain.
Historically, daylight saving time has been used to extend the time work could be done by lengthening the day. The hour change Spain started in April 1918, around the end of World War I. It was observed intermittently from 1918 through the 1940s. After October 1949, Spain remained on standard time for several decades. Then, in the midst of the energy crisis, daylight saving time resumed. From 1974 through 1980, daylight saving time started on various dates from late March to mid-April and concluded in late September or early October. In 1981, the changes were standardized to occur on the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in September. Finally, starting in 1996, the end of daylight saving time was shifted to the last Sunday in October.