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(PHP 4, PHP 5)

setlocale — Set locale information


string setlocale ( int $category , string $locale [, string $... ] )
string setlocale ( int $category , array $locale )

Sets locale information.



category is a named constant specifying the category of the functions affected by the locale setting:

  • LC_ALL for all of the below
  • LC_COLLATE for string comparison, see strcoll()
  • LC_CTYPE for character classification and conversion, for example strtoupper()
  • LC_MONETARY for localeconv()
  • LC_NUMERIC for decimal separator (See also localeconv())
  • LC_TIME for date and time formatting with strftime()
  • LC_MESSAGES for system responses (available if PHP was compiled with libintl)


If locale is NULL or the empty string "", the locale names will be set from the values of environment variables with the same names as the above categories, or from "LANG".

If locale is "0", the locale setting is not affected, only the current setting is returned.

If locale is an array or followed by additional parameters then each array element or parameter is tried to be set as new locale until success. This is useful if a locale is known under different names on different systems or for providing a fallback for a possibly not available locale.


Return values

Returns the new current locale, or FALSE if the locale functionality is not implemented on your platform, the specified locale does not exist or the category name is invalid.

An invalid category name also causes a warning message. Category/locale names can be found in » RFC 1766 and » ISO 639. Different systems have different naming schemes for locales.

Note: The return value of setlocale() depends on the system that PHP is running. It returns exactly what the system setlocale function returns.


Version Description
4.3.0 Passing multiple locales became possible.
4.2.0 Passing category as a string is now deprecated, use the above constants instead. Passing them as a string (within quotes) will result in a warning message.


Example#1 setlocale() Examples

/* Set locale to Dutch */

/* Output: vrijdag 22 december 1978 */
echo strftime("%A %e %B %Y"mktime(00012221978));

/* try different possible locale names for german as of PHP 4.3.0 */
$loc_de setlocale(LC_ALL'de_DE@euro''de_DE''de''ge');
"Preferred locale for german on this system is '$loc_de'";

Example#2 setlocale() Examples for Windows

/* Set locale to Dutch */

/* Output: vrijdag 22 december 1978 */
echo strftime("%A %d %B %Y"mktime(00012221978));

/* try different possible locale names for german as of PHP 4.3.0 */
$loc_de setlocale(LC_ALL'de_DE@euro''de_DE''deu_deu');
"Preferred locale for german on this system is '$loc_de'";



The locale information is maintained per process, not per thread. If you are running PHP on a multithreaded server api like IIS or Apache on Windows you may experience sudden changes of locale settings while a script is running although the script itself never called setlocale() itself. This happens due to other scripts running in different threads of the same process at the same time changing the processwide locale using setlocale().


Windows users will find useful information about locale strings at Microsoft's MSDN website. Supported language strings can be found at » and supported country/region strings at » Windows systems support the three letter codes for country/region specified by ISO 3166-Alpha-3, which can be found at this » Unicode website.