I am required to submit a certain form "within 30 days of [a certain date in the future]". I suspect that the form's author actually meant to say something like "at least 30 days before [a certain date]". However, a literal reading of the statement would suggest that the form must be submitted "sometime during the 30 days before or after [a certain date]". In context, is that a correct (or at least reasonable) interpretation of the statement? Alternatively, is there perhaps some idiomatic meaning of the phrase "within x days of" that I am not aware of?

Please do not mark this question as a duplicate. I know that vaguely similar questions have been answered, but they do not quite address this specific issue.

Thank you in advance for your help!


1 Answer 1


I would certainly not assume that this is meant to tell you to submit the form in advance of that day.

Various U.S. government agencies use the phrase “within x number of days” specifically to mean after the date. These are instances when doing that thing before the date would be difficult or near-impossible. These range from notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles that you have changed addresses to notifying the Social Security administration that a loved one has died. These are all meant to be done “within x days” of that event occurring.

A local pistol licensing agency may tell you to notify them within x number of days if you discharge your weapon anywhere outside of a firing range (you shoot a home invader, for example). You can clearly ONLY do this after the fact.

Taken in context, you may be able to assume the deadline in your specific situation. But the phrase is usually identical to drawing a circle around the date and the radius is your time frame.

  • Good point. I appreciate your help in clarifying this matter; the relevant agency later confirmed that your interpretation was correct. I just found the wording very counter-intuitive, because it seemed very obvious that this specific form would need to be submitted before a certain date (and certainly not afterwards). However, this was apparently not the case. Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 22:36
  • @GaiusBaltar Glad it helped. You can mark it as the answer if you feel it met that standard.
    – user80371
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 11:19

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