I'm currently trying to sell my Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM and thought in the advert I would try date it.

On the underside of the barrel there is an eight digit serial number. On the lens mount there are no production codes.

According to a couple of resources online there should be either a code containing a few letters or on newer lenses a 10 digit serial number. I have neither. On the second resource, there is an example eight digit serial number they've dated the same way as the 10 digit BUT mine begins 21... which would age the lens at Sep 2014... I bought the lens used in 2009...

It looks like I'm not the only person to have noticed this.

Am I able to date this lens or should I just accept I can't?

  • 5
    "Dating a Canon lens". *giggles*
    – user29608
    Mar 22, 2018 at 10:24
  • The electronic inside might have date codes to give a rough estimate
    – PlasmaHH
    Apr 1, 2018 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


Sorry, there is no way you can date your lens. Not all Canon lenses have date codes, or serial numbers that can be decoded.

Canon might have some master list somewhere but I bet if you were to ask Canon, they would say it’s not possible.

In the past most "L" lenses had 6, 7, or 8 digit serial numbers and separate date codes. Starting about 2010 many went to a 10 digit serial number which should contain a date code. Some "L" lenses like the EF 24-105mm have continued with 7 digit serial numbers and separate date codes. I suspect it may have to do with which factory the lens is made in.

"Consumer" lenses are a mixed bag. Some have date codes, and some don't. "Consumer" USM, Micro Motor, and STM AF consumer lenses NEVER have separate date codes. If they are newer lenses with 10 digit serial numbers you can decode the build date.

For some unknown reason, all "Arc Form Drive" consumer lenses always have date codes.

All these older, out of production Arc Form Drive lenses had date codes: (28-70, 35-70, 35-105, 35-135, 50 f/1.8 MkI, 70-210, 100-200, 100-300, etc)

These more recent Arc Form Drive lensese also have date codes: (24 f/2.8, 28 f/2.8, 35 f/2, 50 f/2.5, 135 f/2.8SF, etc)


There's a pdf available that describes the serial number placement. According to that document, serial numbers do not contain letters.

But, if you want to date the lens, you can try and contact Canon directly and ask them to look up the serial number for you. As stated in your sources, that will give you the production date only.

(I had it done for a microscope, and the manufacturer (Leitz) was quick to reply with the information)


Starting in 1990 Canon only date coded some particular lenses. Other lenses did not receive a date code. The EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS is one of those lenses that does not have a date code stamped on any example since the lens was introduced in 2006.

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