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Power plug, socket & mains voltage in Belgium

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What type of plugs and sockets are used in Belgium ?

In Belgium, plug and socket types C and E are the official standards. Since type F plugs are identical to type E plugs, they can also be used with Belgian type E sockets.

Type E

  • primarily used in France, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia & Czechia (for a full list, click here)
  • 2 pins
  • grounded
  • 16 A
  • 220 – 240 V
  • socket compatible with plug types C, E & F

Type C

  • commonly used in Europe, South America & Asia (for a full list, click here)
  • 2 pins
  • not grounded
  • 2.5 A, 10 A & 16 A
  • almost always 220 – 240 V
  • socket compatible with plug type C

What is the mains voltage in Belgium ?

Just like the rest of Europe, the voltage in Belgium is 230 volts and the frequency is 50 Hz.

230 V ~ 50 Hz

Background information

Type C Bakelite wall socket (1950s)

Belgium has standardized on type E sockets and plugs. Type C and type F plugs can also be used thanks to their compatibility with type E wall outlets. However, it is not permitted to install type C and type F sockets in Belgian buildings. But why is that?

Power plug & outlet Type C

Typically, it is not allowed to install type C plug sockets in Belgium: these outlets are not grounded, which may entail security risks. Only type E power points are permitted because they are grounded and as a result, significantly safer.
The only (and rare) exception to this rule, is that an old type C outlet should be replaced by a new one. After all, if you hook up a grounded wall outlet (i.e. type E) on a two-wire circuit, the socket will not be grounded, but people will get the impression that it actually is grounded. No need to say, this is a potentially dangerous situation.
Nowadays, however, type C receptacles are not frequently installed anymore, since old homes are almost always completely rewired when they are renovated or significantly altered.

Power plug & outlet Type F

Type F plug socket

It is not allowed to install type F sockets in Belgian houses, even though they are equally safe and 100% compatible with type C and type E plugs. You can, however, occasionally encounter type F wall outlets or extension cords in Belgian web shops that have e.g. Dutch or German owners. Also kitchen units, which are often manufactured elsewhere in the European Union, sometimes have several type F plug sockets built in. Strictly speaking, this is not in compliance with electrotechnical regulations.

So why doesn’t Belgium allow the installation of type F sockets? There are probably both political and economic reasons.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Belgium looked to its neighbour France as a source of policy ideas and legislation, even if what France did was illogical in a broad European or global context. This explains why Belgium is one of only countries that standardized on the French type E socket; incidentally, it also explains why Belgium is (besides France) the only country in the world that uses the AZERTY keyboard lay-out.

The economic reason for not allowing type F sockets in Belgium is probably to protect domestic companies that produce wall outlets and to limit competition to French firms. Other European businesses are currently not really interested in producing type E plug sockets in addition to the manufacturing of type F wall outlets.

Click here for a global map showing the spread of the different plug types used around the world.

Click here for a detailed list of the countries of the world with their respective plug and outlet types, voltage and frequency.