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Bringing your Electronics to Europe

Pauline Kenny

There are three things you may need to convert for your North American electronics to work in Europe.

  • Plug Adapter: The North American plug is a different shape from those used in Continental Europe and the UK. A plug adapter lets you put your plug into the adapter and the adapter plugs into the socket. Many continental European countries use the same plugs, but the United Kingdom does not use the same standard.
  • Phone Jack Adapter: The North American phone jack is a different shape from those used in Continental Europe and the UK. You will need this if you plan to connect your computer to the Internet via a phone modem (dialup). These vary by country, but seem to be changing over to US format in many places.
  • Voltage converter: Also called "power adapters". North America runs on 120V current; Europe on 220-240V current. If your electronic item does not have an adapter that covers both currents, you need a voltage converter to step down the current in Europe to one your item can handle. Note, usually you do not need these for laptop computers and digital camera battery chargers.

We travel with a notebook computer and a digital camera. We bring plug adapters (to plug in the computer and the camera's battery charger) and phone jack adapters (to plug in the phone line from the modem when highspeed, broadband or wireless access is not available). We do not need voltage converters because both the computer power transformer and the battery charger work with both voltages (it says so on each unit - check yours to be sure).

Plug Adapter

The plug adapter is a simple and inexpensive item the lets you plug your North American plug into a European wall socket. Most of continental Europe now uses the standard two round pin plug as shown in the photo below. The United Kingdom still uses a different plug. If any of your items have a third prong (for grounding), you will need an adapter that works with it.

North American and Europe plugs and adapters

Plug and AC Adapter for my notebook with the Continental European Adapter plug.

North American and United Kingdom plugs and adapters

Plug and AC Adapter for my notebook with the United Kingdom Adapter plug.

Buy plug adapters from Amazon.

Phone Jack Adapter

The shapes of the phone sockets vary by country in Europe and are different from those in the US. You will need an adapter for each country you are going to if you plan to use your computer to access the Internet through a phone modem (dialup). We also travel with a few extra phone things: a long wire, in case the phone socket is a long way from the table; a splitter, so you can plug the computer and the phone into the phone socket at the same time (to save you having to always unplug one and plug in the other); an extender and a second phone wire (just in case).

Note: Many countries are now switching over to the North American format for phone plugs. Bring a North American phone wire too.

North American phone plug and the adapter to work with Italian phone plugs.

North American phone plug and England phone plugs. This photo shows one phone cord with England plug on one end and North American plug on the other end, so this can be used to plug your computer modem into the UK phone socket.

Where to Buy Phone Jack Adapters

Buy phone jack adapters from Amazon.

US to European Plug Adapters

US to United Kingdom Plug Adapters

US to Worldwide Plug Adapter Kits

US to Italy, France, United Kingdom, etc. Phone Jack Adapters

Plug Adapters

Ebags eBags: Go to Travel Accessories - Converters and Adapters for a good selection of plug adapters.


www.kropla.com: Steve Kropla's Help for World Travelers, comprehensive listings of worldwide electrical and telephone information.

www.voltagevalet.com: Voltage Valet, detailed information about electronics in other countries.

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