So you’ve chosen Latin America as your gap year destination…Lucky you! You’re making a list of what to pack for your trip and you’re asking yourself the common question…”Which adapter(s) do I need for travelling in South and Central America?”. In this guide, we detail the plug socket types commonly found in each country throughout both South and Central America, so you can decide which adapter(s) to pack for your trip.
If your travels take you to South America, you’re likely to be met with a wide range of plug sockets, especially if you’re travelling to more than one country. The plug types in use in South American countries can vary greatly around the continent, so knowing what to expect before you go, and ensuring you’ve packed the right adapters for your destination will save you a headache when you arrive!
Argentina used to use the continental plug found throughout Europe, but has since changed to the earthed Australian plug (type I). The unearthed version of the type I plug is also suitable for use in Argentina and type C plugs may still be found in older buildings.
Bolivia use a combination of the continental plug (type C) and unearthed USA (type A) plug, some newer sockets are designed to accept both types. To be sure, you may want to have both types to hand or pack a worldwide adapter.
Brazil throws travellers a bit of a curve ball with its unique type N wall sockets. At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that you could simply pack a European adapter for your trip to Brazil, as the wall sockets look fairly similar. However, Brazilian plug sockets are designed with a recessed hexagonal section, so standard European plugs won’t fit.
Chile keeps things fairly simple, as it mainly uses the type C plug (European). You can also use type N plugs in these sockets. In some areas of Chile, you may come across Italian wall sockets (type L), but these aren’t that common.
Situated in the north of the South American continent, therefore closer to North America, it makes sense that Colombia mainly uses American plugs. You will find both the unearthed USA (type A) and earthed USA (type B) in use throughout Colombia.
The main plug sockets in Guyana are USA unearthed (type A) & USA earthed (type B). In some parts of the country and older buildings, you may also come across Indian wall socket (type D) and even the UK socket (type G)!
As with Bolivia, Peru uses two different types of plug. The most commonly used varies between the European (type C) and Unearthed USA (type A). Most sockets will accept both types, so you shouldn’t have any issues if you rock up with just one of the aforementioned adapters. If you want to play it safe, get a worldwide option or bring both adapter types.
Uruguay isn’t as simple as some of the other South American countries, with a few different socket variations found throughout the country. The most common type in use is the European socket (type C), but you may also come across the earthed Australian socket (type I, also found in bordering country, Argentina). A couple of other random additions to this plug socket lottery include the European Schuko (type F) and Italian (type L). Although the Europe socket is most common, you may want to consider a universal adapter kit, especially if you’re travelling around the Uruguay.
Compared to South America, Central America is much easier when it comes to packing the correct adapter! All countries in Central America use either the unearthed USA (type A) or earthed USA (type B) socket, or a combination of both. Just to break it down, here’s a list of the most common socket types found in each country;
Of course if you’re travelling to multiple countries and visiting both South & Central America, you may want to consider packing a universal travel adapter, as these will cover the majority of plug types in countries throughout the Americas.
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.