IEC plug type classifications by letter

International plugs used for mains electricity are sometimes classified by letters.  This is used by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and also historically by the US State Department. 

These plug types refer to the IEC standards Plugs and socket-outlets for domestic use, i.e. the male plug that fits a country-specific domestic electrical wall socket.  However, the list is far from comprehensive, includes several errors, and groups together several plugs that are not interchangeable or are even unsafe. 

Different organisations may also use different letters for different plug types.  Other than for superficial recognition, we strongly recommend against using this system. 

See our product finder pages for full details of which plug is used where.

Plug Type APlug Type A
Generally taken as North American unearthed plug with two parallel flat pins, which is similar to the ungrounded plugs used in Japan and China.  The American plug is polarised with one pin larger than the other, whilst the Japanese and Chinese are not.  American plugs are not to be sold into China or Japan.

Plug Type BPlug Type B
The most common earthed plug used in North American, and the basis for the Japanese and Taiwanese plugs, similar to Type A but with the addition of a round earth pin.  The Japanese plug has slightly different dimensions so interchangeability is not guaranteed.  As with Type A above, only the correct plugs with Japanese approvals may be imported into Japan; this is an ongoing problem for electrical safety in Japan.

Plug Type CPlug Type C
An unearthed two pin plug used in much of Europe.  Generally assumed to be the CEE7/16 Europlug with 4mm pins, it may also refer to the CEE7/17 Contour plug with 4.8mm pins.  Not to be confused with the UK BS 4573 shaver plug. Brazil, Korea, South Africa and Switzerland use similar two-pin plugs.

Plug Type DPlug Type D
A three pin roundpin plug based on BS546 commonly used in India and some southern African countries.  A smaller version of the South African Type M, rated 5A in the UK and 6A elsewhere.

Plug Type EPlug Type E
A type of socket with protruding earth pin also called the ‘French socket’ or CEE7/5, used in Europe, specifically France, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and some North African countries.  The corresponding Type E plug is rated 16A with 4.8mm pins and an aperture to accept the socket’s earthing pin.  It is slowly being superseded by the CEE7/7 plug which also fits Schuko type F sockets.

Plug Type FPlug Type F
The most common socket type in Europe, originally used in Germany and known as the Schuko.  Using side contacts or clips for earthing, the corresponding plug has 4.8mm pins and is rated 16A.  This type is also used in Korea, but must carry the correct KSC or KTL approvals.  As with Type E, the more universal CEE7/7 plugs are favoured.  A related plug with narrower 4mm pins is still used in Russia.

Plug Type GPlug Type G
The UK plug, also used in Crown Dependencies and ex colonies.  It is rated 13A and has a replaceable fuse which may have a lower amperage (see UK page for explanation) and childproof shutters on the socket require an earth pin or ISOD (insulated shutter opening device) on the plug even for unearthed equipment.  With the correct approvals this plug is also used in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.  There are also local variations manufactured without the fuse or without insulated pins, but these must strictly not be sold or imported into the UK as they do not comply with BS1363.

Plug Type HPlug Type H
The Israeli plug, used in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.  It is not used anywhere else.  The earthed plug is rated 16A and has three round pins with an offset earth; sockets accept Europlugs.  The IEC website shows a flat pin plug which is long obsolete.

Plug Type IPlug Type I
Generally taken as the Australian plug, also used in New Zealand and some Pacific islands.  It has three flat pins in a V (live and neutral partially insulated) and is rated 10A.  Larger 15A and 20A versions also exist.  It is also used to refer to Chinese and Argentinian plugs, which whilst similar are not the same.  Chinese plugs have longer pins, no insulation on the pins, and must be approved by CCC.  Argentinian plugs also have longer pins and no insulation, and live and neutral are reversed; they must also be IRAM approved.  Australian plugs must not be used in China or Argentina and vice versa.

Plug Type JPlug Type J
The Swiss plug, used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  Rated 10A with an offset earth, it is similar to but not interchangeable with Brazilian and IEC60906 plugs.  Sockets accept 3 pin plugs, 2 pin plugs, and Europlugs.

Plug Type KPlug Type K
The Danish plug, used in Denmark and Greenland.  Sockets accept Danish plugs and unearthed Europlugs. 

Plug Type LPlug Type L
The Italian plug.  Rated 10A, with all three pins in a row, making it unpolarised (can be plugged in either way round).  Sockets also accept Europlugs.  There is also a larger 16a version.  

Plug Type MPlug type M
A large three pin round pin plug used in South Africa and surrounding countries, as well as for larger equipment in India.  Based on BS546, it is rated 15A in the UK and 16A elsewhere.  A larger version of the Indian Type D.

Plug Type NPlug Type N
The new type plug used in Brazil, similar to but not interchangeable with IEC 60906-1 and the Swiss plug.  Both 2 pin and 3 pin versions exist, rated at 10A and a larger plug at 20A.  Some sources list compatibility with IEC 60906 but this is not the case.

Plug Type OPlug Type O (unofficial)
The new type plug used in Thailand with three round pins.  Old sockets which are being phased out are designed to accept both USA plugs at over-voltage and European plugs without earthing.

No letter – USA NEMA typesNo letter – USA NEMA types
Type A (NEMA 1-15P) and Type B (NEMA 5-15P) cover the two most common North American plug types, but there are many more, both straight blade and locking for a variety of voltage and current ratings

No letter – IEC 60906-1No letter – IEC 60906-1
IEC 60906-1 was designed with the long term aim of standardising global mains plugs, but so far has only been implemented by South Africa as the SANS 164-2.  Whilst it was used to help design the Brazilian Type N, the two are not compatible.

No letter – CEE7/7 European plugNo letter – CEE7/7 European plug
The CEE7/7 was designed with dual earthing system to fit both CEE7/5 French Type E sockets along with CEE7/3 German Type F sockets.  This is the standard earthed European plug supplied by Morvan Trading as it standardises the plug type used throughout most of Europe.

No letter – CEE7/17 plugNo letter – CEE7/17 plug
The CEE7/1 unearthed socket is now reasonably rare, being replaced by earthed outlets.  However, the CEE7/17 mating plug, also known as a contour or Kontur plug, is in widespread use in Europe and elsewhere for class II equipment drawing between 2.5A and 16A.


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