How to Add or Subtract Dates in Java

By Doug Lowe

Just as you cannot use Java’s built-in comparison operators with dates, you also may not use built-in mathematical operators. Instead, you can perform addition and subtraction on dates using the various plus and minus methods, and you can determine the difference between two dates by using the until method.

An important fact to consider when doing date and time calculations is that Date-Time objects are immutable. That means that once you create a Date-Time object, you cannot change its value. When you perform a calculation on a Date-Time object, the result is a new Date-Time object with a new value.

The plus and minus methods let you add various date and time units to a Date-Time object. There are four variants of each for the LocalDate class, allowing you to add or subtract years, months, weeks, and days to a LocalDate object. The following code prints the current date, tomorrow’s date, and the date one week, one month, and one year from now:

System.out.println(“Today: “ +;

System.out.println(“Tomorrow: “ +;

System.out.println(“Next week: “ +;

System.out.println(“Next month: “ +;

System.out.println(“Next year: “ +;

To determine the difference between two dates, use the until method. It calculates the difference between a date and the date passed as the first parameter, measured in the units indicated by the second parameter. For example, the following code determines the number of days between May 16, 2014 and December 15, 2014:

LocalDate date1 = LocalDate.parse(“2014-05-16”);

LocalDate date2 = LocalDate.parse(“2014-12-15”);

System.out.println(date1.until(date2, ChronoUnit.DAYS));

Some date calculations can be a bit more complex. For example, consider a business that prepares invoices on the 15th of each month. The following snippet of code displays the number of days from the current date until the next invoicing date:

LocalDate today =;

LocalDate invDate = LocalDate.of(today.getYear(),

today.getMonthValue(), 15);

if (today.getDayOfMonth() > 15)

invDate = invDate.plusMonths(1);

long daysToInvoice = today.until(invDate,



+ “ until next invoice date.”);

This example works by first getting the current date, then creating a new LocalDate object that represents the 15th of the current month. Then, if the current day of the month is greater than 15, it adds one month to the invoicing date. In other words, if it is the 16th or later, invoicing occurs on the 15th of the following month, not of this month. Then it uses the until method to determine the number of days between the current date and the next invoicing date.

ChronoUnit is an enumeration that defines the various units of time that can be used in date and time calculations. The possible values are:

















Most of these are self-explanatory, but two of them are a bit peculiar:

  • ERA indicates whether the date refers to the Common Era (CE, also known as AD) or Before Era (BCE, also known as BC).
  • FOREVER represents the largest value that can be represented as a duration. Sadly, Java won’t let you live forever. The following code throws an exception:

LocalDate birthday = LocalDate.parse(“1959-05-16);

birthday =,ChronoUnit.FOREVER);

Note that ChronoUnit is in the java.time.temporal package, so be sure to include the following statement at the top of any program that uses ChronoUnit:

import java.time.temporal.*;