If you're heading to Europe with any kind of gadget that needs an electricity supply (phone, laptop, hairdryer), it's important to check two things – that you have the right kind of plug adapter to fit in the local sockets, and also that your devices are compatible with the power voltage.
There are 15 types of standard electrical plug and outlet socket in use throughout the world, named from A to O. Some are safely interchangeable.
The majority of European countries including Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Portugal have outlet sockets that require a two-pin plug known as ‘Type C'.
The main exceptions are the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Island), Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Ireland (Eire), Cyprus, Gibraltar and Malta which all require a ‘Type G' 3 pin plug.
A few countries such as Switzerland do have different outlets (‘Type J') but they are compatible with a Type C plug.
You can see a complete list of world standard plug and socket types here
Across Europe the standard voltage is 230V (50 Hz), with Russia and Georgia the only exception at 220V.
Other countries in the world have a much lower voltage (110V or 120V) and if your devices are not designed for the higher input level they may be damaged if you plug them in. The device or plug should state what level it is designed for e.g. ‘INPUT 110-240V ~ 50-60Hz'.
You can look up the plug, socket and voltage details for your destination here
Visiting Europe From The USA?
You will need a USA to Europe or universal plug adapter that covers all the countries you will visit, and probably a step down voltage converter too (check your devices). Note that some voltage converters are not suitable for high power items like a hairdryer.
Visiting Europe From The UK?
For mainland Europe you will need a UK to Europe plug adapter, except for the countries mentioned above with ‘Type G' sockets.
Travelling Within Europe?
You will need a Europe to UK plug adapter if heading for the UK and any of its islands, Ireland (Eire), Cyprus, Gibraltar or Malta.
Visiting Europe From Around The World?
We recommend you check the full standard country list to compare your home with your destination's power requirements. You may need a universal plug adapter and/or a step down voltage converter depending on where you travel from and to.
To avoid packing so many bits and pieces, consider:
- Do you need really all the gadgets? Are items like a hairdryer provided in your hotel? Could you ditch the hair care and ‘go casual' for a few days?
- Just need to charge your phone or iPad? If staying in a hotel with a modern television there is usually a USB port on the TV – just take a USB cable to connect and charge.
- Hotels often have spare chargers in their ‘lost property' – try asking at reception if yours isn't suitable.
- In southern Europe in the summer (i.e. sunny climes) a solar powered charger can be another option.
- Or consider taking a spare battery bank – these are handy to carry for emergency re-charging when out and about too.