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travel: power sockets around the world, sockets by country

It's vacation time.

All these electronic things need power.... Which one is the right adapter??
The switched power supply units in modern electronics and battery chargers can usually work with a variety of different voltages and frequencies. Only the plug must be adapted to fit into the socket. Laptop PCs can usually work without earth connected. Most laptop power supply blocks do however use the earth pin for ESD protection. The laptop power supply will have a capacitor (about 1uF) connected between the minus DC output pin and the Earth pin on the power plug.

Just use the search function of your browser to search for the country name and find the right section on this page.

German socket (a.k.a Schuko socket)

The earth pins are the clips on both sides.
Voltage: 230V AC
Pin spacing: 19mm, pin diameter: 4.8mm

Used in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Eastern Europe. Russia and the former Soviet Republics use a similar kind of plug but the diameter of the contacts is 4.0 mm.

French socket

In France the power socket is similar to the German type except that the earth pin is coming out of the socket.
Voltage: 230V AC
Pin spacing: 19mm, pin diameter: 4.8mm

Used in France, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. You can get plugs which will fit in Germany and France and still have a proper earth connection. They have contacts on the sides for the clamps and also take the French earth pin:

Denmark, Greenland

Similar to the French connector but the earth pin goes in.
Voltage: 230V AC

Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Earth is the pin in the middle, slightly off center.
Voltage: 230V AC

Italy, Chile

Earth is the pin in the middle.
Voltage: 230V AC

Most of Europe

The main difference between all the European plugs is the earth pin. The voltage is everywhere 230V AC. It is therefore possible to build a travel adapter which will fit in all those counties in mainland Europe as long as no earth connection is needed.

There is even a plug called "Euro Plug" which will fit in all the European wall outlets except UK/Ireland/Cyprus/Malta. The pin diameter is 4mm and it can be bent a tiny bit such that it creates a reliable contact in sockets made for 4mm and 4.8mm pins.

Counties where such a generic European adapter without earth pin will fit are:
Algiers, Angola, Aruba, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivian, Bosnian, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Gaza, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kongo, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mallorca, Marocco, Martinique, Mauritius, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Serbia, Slowakia, Slowenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tahiti, Thailand, Togo, Tschad, Tschechenia, Tunisia, Turkey, Urugay, Vietnam, West Bank, Zaire

High power connections in Europe

Most houses in Europe connect high power devices such as sauna, oven, etc... to "high power outlets". Those have 380V/400V @ 50Hz with 3 phases. The voltage between phase and neutral is 220/230V. Domestic appliances have usually no connector for this. Cables are screwed directly to the wall outlet.

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza

The earth pin is the third pin at the bottom.
Voltage: 230V AC
Pin spacing: 19mm, pin diameter: 4.5mm

The pins on the connector used to be slightly flat before 1989. Most wall sockets are now made such that they accept both the older flat connector pins and the new round ones.

United Kingdom, British 3-pin (Commonwealth)

In the UK the pins are square and there might be a locking mechanism which locks the power pins unless something is inserted into the earth connector. You can usually switch on and off the socket with the little switch next to the socket.
Voltage: 240V AC

Counties which have this type of power socket are:
Bermuda, England, Ghana, Great Britain, Honkong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Katar, Kenia, Kuwait, Malta, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Seychellen, Singapore, Uganda, Wales, Cyprus

Australia and New Zealand

This is a power socket with flat pins and they have an angle.
Voltage: 240V AC Counties which have this type of power socket are:
Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea,

Mainland China

The connector is almost idential to the Australian connector. The pins are just slightly longer (about 1mm) and there is normally no switch.
Voltage: 230V AC @ 50Hz

Allmost all hotels have the quite common multiplug socket which will take the mainland china plug and US/European connectors. Different versions of this multiplug socket exist some can accomodate foreign plugs with 3 pins but all of them take at least the two pin connectors. People from Japan or North America should be aware that the voltage is 230V even if their connector fits into such a multiplug socket.

USA/Canada (North American NEMA socket)

The pins of the US power socket are flat and parallel. The earth pin is longer and round. The pins have different sizes with the "hot" wire being the smaller one. However on plugs with earth you will normally find that the flat pins have the same size. This makes it strictly speaking a Japanese plug. Plugs with no earth pin are however made such that they fit only in one way into the socket because the neutral pin is wider.

Voltage: 120V AC, Frequency: 60Hz

Counties which have this type of power socket are:
Canada, Costa Rica, Dubai, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan (similar to North America but pins have equal width), Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, USA, Venezuela

The Japanese plug has two identical flat prongs, whereas the US plug has one prong which is slightly larger. US plugs with coded prongs will not fit into Japanese sockets.

The North American socket is not receded. This has two consequences: small children may be tempted to pull the plug out of the socket by reaching past the end of the insulation towards the pins since their small fingers can get a good grip there. They can easily get electrocuted when touching the pins. This is mitigated by the low voltage of only 120V AC which will in most cases not cause death. A second problem is that small metal objects such as e.g a paper clip could fall along the wall onto the contacts and cause a short circuit between the neutral and the hot pin. This is mitigated in recent installations by installing the socket such that the ground pin is pointing up-wards.

Recent installations have the earth pin up.

The North American power socket has an advantage over all the other power sockets and plugs in terms of size. It's the most compact one.

High power connections in North America

High power connections are used with ovens in the kitchen and dryers for clothes. They have 2 phases and 240V/250V @ 60Hz between the phases (120V/125V phase to neutral). Most European washing machines are able to connect there with no problem (no need for a transformer). A small number of European washing machines might have problems with the 60Hz if they have an asynchronous motor, e.g for the pump, built to work only at 50Hz. Note that there are no ready made adapters available for this. Most Americans or Canadians will not even know that they have voltages suitable for European appliances in their houses. You can get the plug (dryer replacement cords) in many shops. Those are heavy cables with copper wires of about 2mm diameter. To build an adapter you would need to bring a socket from your home country that is capable of taking such heavy wires. For the connection use pins marked P1 and P2 in the below picture. The earth pin connects to the earth pin of your socket. Neutral is not connected. Be careful! Playing with high power connections can fatal if you don't know what you are doing.

High power wall socket USA/Canada

The corresponding high power plug (it's large and heavy).


There is no guarantee that the information on this page is correct. Some countries might also have two types of wall sockets for historic reasons.

Contact me, suggestions and photos

Take a photo of a plug and a power socket while you are on vaction and you can send it to me to improve this page.
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