What is an Effective Date?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Also known as an enactment date, an effective date is the specific month, day, and year that a law, contract, policy, or treaty becomes enforceable. Effective dates are also sometimes used to identify the exact date when a contract or policy will cease to be enforced, and usually is provided in preparation for some new document to replace the previous document. Governments, businesses, and even educational institutions make use of the effective date as part of their ongoing function.

In the world of business, the effective date is an integral part of any type of contractual arrangement. Identifying a specific date of commencement makes it possible for both parties to know exactly when the provisions of the contract will apply. For example, if a vendor extends a discounted rate for services rendered as of a specific date, the client knows that any services received prior to that contract effective date are not subject to the contracted rate.

Contracts usually carry another type of effective date, known as the end date or date of completion. This is simply the date that the provisions of the contract are scheduled to expire. Unless the contract is renewed, the client will not receive discounted pricing or any of the other benefits identified in the contract after the end date indicated in the body of the agreement.


In like manner, a business or educational system may also use the concept of the effective date. One application has to do with employment and termination policies. New employees are assigned a specific hire date that indicates when they officially go on the payroll and assume their responsibilities. Most systems also make use of a termination effective date to identify the specific date when an employee is no longer associated with the company. The termination date serves as the cutting off point where the extension of salary and other benefits cease.

Municipalities also make use of enactment dates. One of the more common applications has to do with the announcement of changes in public policies. For example, if the schedule for garbage collection is restructured in order to accommodate a growing population, the city may publish the new schedule in the local media, noting the date that the revised sanitation schedule will go into effect.

With insurance coverage, the policy effective date usually has to do with the commencement of benefits under the current terms and provisions of the policy. When changes occur to existing coverage, insurance providers tend to publish the changes in advance, and advise their clients of when the change will go into effect. In the United States, retirees and others who qualify for government operated insurance programs receive formal notification of the Medicare effective date for their new coverage, along with details on the scope of that coverage.


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