What type of electrical plug adapter or converter do I need when traveling is one of the most common questions travelers ask? Here is some background on the topic and a summary of which electrical plugs work in what countries.
What is a plug adapter?
A plug adapter allows you to insert the electric plugs from your home country into the wall sockets of the country you’re travelling to. For instance, if you live in Canada or the United States like we do, we have two types of electric plugs. We have two flat blade prongs (Type A), for ungrounded devices, and a third, round prong (Type B) for grounded devices. When we travel to Germany or Austria for instance we have to use a Type C / F adapter to accommodate our device’s plugs.
What is a power converter?
A power converter, which is also referred to as a voltage converter or transformer, lets you use an electrical device designed for 110-127 volts in a country with 220-240 volts electricity, and the other way around.
When travelling do I need to use a Converter for my computer, cell phone or tablet?
Luckily most newer models of laptops, cell phones and tablets chargers have auto-switching voltage converter / transformers built into their power chargers. As long as you have an adapter to let you plug into a local electrical outlet, you should be good to go. But if in doubt, check on the bottom of your charger. You should see some small print (see image below) stating something similar to “Input: 100-240V … 50/60Hz.”
Types of Electrical Plugs Around the World
See images at bottom of this post.
Plug Type A
Countries used in: Canada, USA, and Central America, Japan
The Type A plug is an ungrounded plug with two flat parallel pins. The Canadian / American and Japanese plugs appear to be the same, however, the neutral pin on the Canadian / American plug is somewhat wider than the live pin, where both pins of the Japanese plug are the same size. This allows Japanese plugs to be used in the Canadian / American but not the other way around.
Plug Type B
Countries used in: Canada, USA and Central America, Japan.
The Type B electrical plug has two flat parallel pins and a round grounding pin. The grounding pin is longer than the other two so that the device is grounded before the power is connected. As with the Type A plugs, the American and Japanese versions vary slightly.
Plug Type C
Countries used in: Some European countries (with the exception of the UK and Ireland), Cyprus and Malta
The Type C electrical plug (or Europlug) has two round pins. It fits into any socket that accepts 4.0 to 4.8 mm round contacts with 19 mm centers. Type E, F, J, K or N sockets are replacing the Type C plug.
Plug Type D
Countries used in: Botswana, Hong Kong, Maldives, Namibia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Tanzania
The Type D electrical plug has three large round pins in a triangular pattern.
Plug Type E
Countries used in: France, Belgium, Slovakia and Tunisia
The Type E electrical plug has a rounded shape with two 4.8 mm round pins spaced 19 mm apart and a hole for the socket’s male grounding pin. The Type E socket has an accommodating round recess.
Plug Type F
Countries used in: Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Spain and others.
The Type F electrical plug has two 4.8 mm round pins spaced 19 mm apart. It is similar to the Type E plug but has two grounding clips on both sides of the plug. The Type F plug will work with Type F socket and its female contact will accept the grounding pin of the Type E socket.
Plug Type G
Countries used in: UK, Ireland, Grenada, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Zambia.
The Type G electrical plug has three rectangular blades in a triangular pattern and has an incorporated fuse, usually a 3 amps fuse for smaller appliances such as computers.
Plug Type H
Countries used in: Israel
The Type H plug is used solely in Israel. It has two flat pins in a V-shape as well as a grounding pin. Its being phased out and replaced with a round-pinned version. The holes in Type H sockets are wide in the middle and can also accommodate the round-pinned Type C version.
Plug Type I
Countries used in: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Argentina
The Type I plug has two flat pins in a V-shape in addition to a grounding pin. A version of the plug, which only has the two flat pins, exists as well. Additionally, the Australian plug works with sockets in China.
Plug Type J
Countries used in: Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Rwanda
The Type J plug has two round pins in addition to a grounding pin. It looks similar to the Brazilian Type N plug but it’s incompatible since the earth pin is further away from the centerline than on Type N. However, Type C plugs are compatible with Type J sockets.
Plug Type K
Countries used in: Denmark and Greenland
The Type K plug has two round pins plus a grounding pin. Type E plugs and sockets are also used in Denmark.
Plug Type L
Countries used in: Italy
There are two variations of the Type L plug, one rated at 10 amps, and one at 16 amps. The 10-amp version has two round pins, which are 4 mm thick, and spaced 5.5 mm apart, with a grounding pin in the middle. The 16-amp version also has two round pins but is thicker at 5 mm and spaced 8mm apart, as well as a grounding pin. Italy has a kind of “universal” socket that accommodates a “schuko” socket for C, E, F and L plugs and a “bipasso” socket for L and C plugs.
Plug Type M
Countries used in: South Africa and Swaziland
The Type M plug has three round pins in a triangular pattern.
Plug Type N
Countries used in: Brazil
There are two adaptations of the Type N plug, one rated at 10 amps, and the other for 20 amps. The 10 amp version has two round pins, 4 mm thick, and a grounding pin where the 20 amp version is used for heavier appliances and has two larger round pins, 4.8 mm in diameter, and a grounding pin. The Type N socket will accommodate Type C plugs.
Brazil is one of the few countries that use two types of voltage, 127 V, and 220 V. It’s critical to determine the local voltage before plugging in your appliance.
Below is a complete overview of all countries of the world and their respective plugs and outlets, voltages and frequencies used for domestic uses:
Illustration of Electric Plugs and Sockets