How to Change a Foreign Electrical Plug to a British Plug

plug image by Alison Bowden from

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.

Electric Plug image by JJAVA from

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.

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