Clocks on a Church Tower in Tenerife

Tenerife belongs to the same time zone as the UK and Ireland. Together with Portugal (except the Azores), Iceland and the Faroe Islands, they are part of the Western European Time-zone (WET).

These places (apart from Iceland) use daylight saving time in summer, so clocks are adjusted forward and back by one hour in Spring and Autumn.

These time-zones have various titles such as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Irish Standard Time (IST), British Summer Time (BST), Atlantic/Canary etc. However since the daylight savings time changes happen on the same days in Tenerife as in the UK, the time remains the same in both the UK and the Canary Islands throughout the year.

Mainland Spain uses Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of the Canaries, and Spanish TV and radio audiences are accustomed to hearing ‘una hora menos en Canarias‘ when an announcer talks about the schedules. This one hour timezone difference between the Canary Islands and Mainland Spain has existed since 1922 when it was mandated by Madrid – previously there had been no unified time in the Canary Islands.

However, technically, the Canary Islands and Mainland Spain are both in the wrong time zone for their respective geographical locations. This is because during World War II, Franco changed Mainland Spain from GMT to GMT+1 in order to be more closely aligned with Germany. This change meant that the Canary Islands changed from GMT-1 to GMT+0, and the situation has remained the same ever since. Both Britain and France also changed their timezones to GMT+1 during the war years, however Britain switched back to GMT after the war (France did not).

Mobile Phone Issues

Visitors to Tenerife should be aware that some mobile phone operators use the GMT+1 time zone (Mainland Spain), and your smartphone may synchronise with the operator and display the incorrect time on your phone. This may be a problem if your alarm goes off at the wrong time on the day that you are leaving and you show up late at the airport – so be wary!

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