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How to Change a Foreign Electrical Plug to a British Plug

Updated April 17, 2017

In the rush to pack and catch your plane, it can be easy to overlook the accommodations your electrical appliances will need when travelling overseas. It is important to ensure you will be able to use your electrical appliances in other countries such as the United Kingdom. Adapters and converters will be needed to safely use your electrical appliance in a British outlet.

Determine your plug type and voltage rating. Most North American plugs have two flat prongs, and an occasional third, grounding prong, and are intended for outlets with a voltage rating of 110 to 120. The "World Electric Guide" is a helpful online resource that can help you determine the type of plug your equipment has, if you don't already know. (See Resources) Plugs in other countries vary in shape and size, but with the exception of Japan and some north African nations, most electrical sockets in countries outside North America deliver between 220 and 240 volts.

Purchase an adaptor. An adaptor is placed on the end of your plug to match it to the British electrical socket. Your plug should fit into the holes on one side of the adaptor, and the British-type prongs should be on the other side. Beware, however: An adaptor does not convert voltage. If your appliance is not rated for British voltage, don't plug it in yet; you will need more.

Purchase a power converter. Most U.S. appliances will require an electrical converter as well as the adaptor. The converter will allow you to safely use a 110-volt North American appliance in a 220 to 240-volt British electrical socket. If your appliance is rated to handle the higher voltage, a converter is not needed and you may only need the adaptor.

Tip

Some power converters may have an appropriate adaptor built in. If you are already in the U.K., many British stores that sell electrical appliances will sell commonly used converters and adaptors. Be sure to check the wattage rating on your electrical appliance and compare it to the power converter. Some converters only work with a certain wattage rating.

Warning

If your appliance is not rated to handle 220 volts, it is important to use the power converter. Allowing 220 to 240 volts of energy to flow into your appliance could permanently damage it or start a fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Adaptor
  • Converter
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About the Author

Dane Gregos began writing professionally in 2010. She has extensive travel experience and provides travel-related content for various websites. Prior to her writing career, she worked in the film and music industries for more than a decade. Gregos studied English, Asian languages, music business and screenwriting at Fullerton College.