When travelling in developing countries I've found a lot of hotels have plug sockets that allow for plugs from a variety of different countries to be used without adapters. Basically something like this:

International plug socket

In developed countries however I've never came across a place that uses this sort of thing. Its always left up to guests to use their own adapters.

I've been wondering, is there a particular reason for this? Is it possible for me to install this sort of thing in my home or are there some dangers?

Of course using US or Japanese 120v appliances in a 240v country is generally inadvisable (and vice-versa) but between two different European countries is getting the plug to fit truly the only worry?

Its particularly appealing to me in my UK house as my partner comes from elsewhere in Europe so we regularly get guests from overseas. It seems it would be a nice convenience to put some of these in the guest room.

  • 5
    My guess is that "developed" countries are going to have strict building codes and that adapter in your picture would never pass any local certification/code approval.
    – JPhi1618
    Apr 3, 2020 at 16:02
  • The biggest problem with this scheme is getting the voltage and over-current protection correct. Apr 21, 2022 at 15:47
  • You would need to get outlets that were the UK equivalent of UL listed (in the US). I see some stuff online about the UK approving UL stuff, but you're looking for euro stuff, right?
    – Huesmann
    Jan 11 at 22:00

6 Answers 6


I do not recommend it. It would most likely be against the electrical code in your region. My experience with those types of receptacles is that they do not grip onto your plugs very well and they can pull out or even fall out from the weight of the cord.

Just get a couple sets of appropriate adapters and keep them in a drawer in the guest room.

  • 2
    Agree and even some of those adaptors are questionable...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 3, 2020 at 10:14
  • 1
    Yes, actually having an electrical code and some code enforcement is a likely reason you don't see this in developed countries. i.e. While UK plugs are unquestionably well made and meet applicable local standards, I suspect it would be difficult or impossible to find UK plugs listed and qualified for installation in my USA home for the convenience of my UK guests.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 3, 2020 at 12:39
  • @Ecnerwal - I'm guessing that there won't be many U.K appliances (220v) that would work off 120v anyway. And the 50/60 cycles/sec. wouldn't make some of those compatible either.
    – Tim
    Apr 3, 2020 at 13:04
  • 3
    I wasn't talking about putting them on 120V? Why would you assume that? If installing 240V recptacles, you connect them to the 240V supply... 50/60 is less of a problem in the 50 to 60 direction than 60 to 50. (faster and cooler .vs. slower and may overheat.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 3, 2020 at 13:08

No, you'll never be able to use those ratty third-world "everything adapters". They are cheap Cheese junk, and they will never, ever, ever pass the lab testing at UL, ETL, CSA or BSI. It's never going to happen.

However, due to the EU harmonization and mutual certification rules, it may be possible to get a couple of appropriate IEC, Schuko etc sockets that are certified, listed and legal for use in the EU, and install those in a UK home. Don't know what you'd do about the switch and fuse requirements.

You may be better off obtaining some competent, listed adapters from a reputable bricks-and-mortar shop like Wickes, and just keeping them in the room.


The problem that one of these would hit in the UK is that it would allow you to plug unfused appliances directly into the outlet, as unlike G-Type plugs (i.e. UK, IE, Malta etc). other plugs do not require a fuse on board. You would need to ask an electrician, but there might be one of these available for the UK market with the fuse built into the socket to account for this.

The solution I came up for this very issue was to simply buy a EU power strip and change the plug on it for a UK plug. The current protection for everything plugged in will be provided by the fuse in the plug.

  • Would using a fused spur box for the foreign outlet be acceptable? Apr 21, 2022 at 11:37
  • Maybe, ask an electrician. But seriously, if you need lots of foreign plugs just modify an EU power strip for each room you need them in. It'll get you 90% of the convenience you are looking for with 0% of the problems.
    – DanielM
    Apr 22, 2022 at 14:04
  • 1
    EU power strips can be bought in the UK via RS: uk.rs-online.com/web/p/extension-leads-cable-reels/1221089
    – DanielM
    Apr 22, 2022 at 14:10

There is a big element of "not my problem" and avoiding liability. The vast majority of electrical installations are not regularly used by foreigners. Doing a standard electrical installation, even in places where foreigners may regularly be present is the easy and legally safe option, if those foriengers chose to use hazardous low-quality travel adapters and give themselves electric shocks that is not the installers problem.

also as harper says, the multi-standard sockets you show in the picture are highly dubious from a safety point of view, and unlikely to properly meet the standards for any of the plugs they accept.

That said, if you are in the UK and want to provide sockets for visitors from Europe, I would say the following.

UK law, for owner-occupied properties (for rentals the situation is more complicated) only requires that reasonable provision is made to ensure electrical installations are safe, it doesn't actually require compliance with any particular standard. That said, BS7671 should at least be regarded as heavy-handed guidance. BS7671 forbids, in most circumstances unpolarised sockets, so German sockets are out, but French sockets may be considered acceptable.

Also the UK normally installs sockets on 32A ring circuits, this is substantially higher than the breaker ratings used for socket circuits in most countries. To keep this safe, we have fuses in our plugs, but obviously a foriegn plug won't have that.

Also if you do anything unusual in your home, you want to be able to reverse it, and put it back to standard if/when you decide to sell. That means you want to avoid unusual wiring or weird-sized foreign mounting boxes.

Fortunately there exist, what are known in the UK as "Euro modules", I have never found a formal standard for these but several manufacturers make modules and plates and they are in-practice interchangable. On a standard UK double backbox you can fit a four module plate.

A french socket module is 2 modules wide, so on a double plate, you can fit a french socket, a switch and a fuse. When you come to leave the house you can easilly remove this and replace it with a standard double socket.


The mechanical connection is just part of the electrical connection. The plug shapes tend to follow conventions that make assumptions about ground return wires, available amperage, available voltage, and frequency (Hz), conveying those assumptions through the plug shape.

Adapters may contain more than just metal to make the plugs fit from one shape to another, and adapters from each shape to each other shape are simply not made because some of the shapes are too different to be safely adapter.

Finally, each plug has pressure loaded springs (also known as specially bent pieces of metal) to clamp the electrical connection, many cleaning the plug through scraping to have a clean electrical connection. A loose or dirty connection introduces air or oxidized metal between the plug and the socket, creating a resistor. These resistors generate heat, usually sufficient to cause nearby wood or paper (both in many walls) to catch fire.

So multi-plugs are generally avoided in places with strong building codes because they come with increased difficulties in ensuring they don't fail in ways that cause fires. A plug that accommodates both flat and pin elements in the same hole won't be able to do much more than provide a spring plate that touches the plug's pin. It can't touch that pin with the designed amount of pressure (as it has two different ways of touching two differently shaped pins in the same space). Any self-cleaning of the pins at insertion is also likely to not occur correctly for one (or both) shape of pins.

In short, the reason it isn't used is because it doesn't advertise the safe plug to use with the electricity, and it can't be designed to properly grasp and clean the pins which will lead to faulty electrical connections that create fires.


I believe that installing a UK (or universal) socket in the US is illegal, and anything other than a type G or type D plug is legal in the UK.

Many of the items you would travel with are dual voltage and can work in any country. Examples are phone chargers, most electric toothbrushes, most battery chargers, and almost all CPAP machines. However, this is not true for most hairdryers and coffee makers.

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