Voltage, Frequency and Plug Type in Canada

Voltage, Frequency and Plug Type in Canada

Voltage in Canada Overview

Knowing the voltage in Canada is important if you have small appliances, such as hair dryers or electric razors, or other gadgets, phone chargers, laptops, etc., that you plan to bring with you from your home country, plug in and use while you are in Canada. 

Read more about what you need to know before you visit Canada

Bottom Line

Unless you are from North America, Central America or Japan, where the plugs are the same, you will likely need a plug adapter and maybe a power converter, although most technology gadgets these days, like phones, laptops and cameras, correct voltage automatically. 

  • 01 of 05

    Voltage & Frequency

    Electric switch bord.
    ••• Jeff Presnail / Getty Images / Getty Images

    In Canada, the voltage is 120 V with 60 Hz frequency.  

    All electrical devices require a certain voltage and electrical current. The voltage is the force with which electricity is pushed through the circuit. The current is the rate - how fast or how slow - the electricity is travelling. 

    No international standard exists for power supply (voltage and frequency, the V and Hz numbers, respectively), so voltages and currents vary from country to country, meaning your gadget may not work properly when travelling abroad.

    Before you plug something in to a Canadian socket you may have to adjust the voltage and current using a power converter.

    You can buy power converters online at Amazon or at any appliance store, travel store, airport or department store. 

     

  • 02 of 05

    Plugs

    Hand with a power cord
    ••• kokouu / Getty Images

    In Canada, the electric wall outlets where the plugs go are for types A and B, requiring two and three prong plugs, respectively (see photo of three prong B-type plug, left). 

    This type of plug differs from those used in Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom and most of South America, Africa, and Asia. People travelling from these countries to Canada will have to purchase a plug adapter in order to use their small appliances, laptops and other gadgets.

    The A and B plugs are the same as those used in the United States, Mexico, Central America, Japan and a few other countries (see plug type by country).

  • 03 of 05

    What Does this Mean for Travellers to Canada?

    Close-up of an universal travel adapter
    ••• Tuomas Lehtinen / Getty Images

    The voltage, frequency and plug type in Canada is exactly the same as in the United States, Mexico, Central America (and a few other random countries). People arriving to Canada from those countries don't have to think about bringing plug adapters or voltage/electricity converters at all.

    Japan also uses the same type of plug - type A / B - as Canada, so plugs on Japanese gadgets will plug in fine to outlets in Canada, but the voltage may be different on small appliances like hair dryers, but will work just fine with laptops, cameras, cell phones and other techie gadgets because these all have power converters built right in (the big black box type thing that is either right at the plug or part way along the cord). 

    However if you are coming from somewhere else in the world, chances are you will need a plug converter and maybe a power converter. A plug converter simply conforms your foreign plug so that it will insert properly into a type A or B outlet (see photo 1). A power...MORE converter, on the other hand, will actually convert the voltage - stepping it down or stepping it up - to conform to the 120 V Canada standard. 

    As mentioned, power converters are used mostly for small appliances, like hair dryers or shavers. These days, phone chargers, laptops and other similar gadgets convert the power up or down automatically. 

  • 04 of 05

    Cell Phones, Laptops, Cameras and other Techie Gadgets

    Voltage and frequency
    ••• Check what voltages and frequencies your gadget will adapt for by reading the label. Photo © Jane McLean

    These days, cell phones, laptops and other technological gadgets that require charging have a built in power converter, which means you don't have to worry about purchasing one for your gadgets when you travel. 

    What you will have to do though if your plug doesn't fit in a Canadian outlet (if it is not type A or B) is get a plug adapter. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Hair Dryers and Small Appliances

    ima18623
    ••• Will your hairdryer work when you travel to Canada?. Sven Olof Jonn / Getty Images

    If your hair dryer, shaver or curling iron does not have an A or B type plug, you will need to use a plug adapter and if it does not operate on 120 V, you will also need a power converter. In either case, the best and easiest thing to do would be to pick up a cheap one in Canada (can buy any of these items for about $20) from any drugstore or department store.

    Most hotels have hairdryers in each guest room free for use.