Use Overseas Computers In The UK

This guide provides useful information for students from overseas who have brought a computer from abroad.

Note: As this is ONLY a guide, IMT and LSE will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from the use of this information. You are expected to get specialist guidance from suppliers before you purchase or install any equipment.  

Voltage Differences

Although computers, plugs, network cards, wireless cards and modems purchased overseas often look physically similar to ones purchased in the UK, there are some important differences. The most important of these is the voltage level. Electrical equipment, including computers, from North America requires 110 volts to operate. However, the UK mains provides 220-240 volts.

Some computers, mainly laptops, are able to handle both 110 and 220 volts. Check your power source to see if it can handle both. (For this information, look in the manual, somewhere on the back of the computer, probably near the plug, or on the power adaptor.) If this is the case, you may have to point the switch to 220v, if it was originally set for 110v. For some computers, there are no voltage levers involved and you can just plug the computer in to the socket.

If your equipment cannot handle 220 volts, it is necessary to use a 110/220 or 240 Voltage Converter. You should be able to purchase one at most electrical stores. If your electrical equipment is from somewhere other than North America, check the voltage requirement for it. If it is not 220 or 240 volts compatible, then you will have to buy a voltage converter.

The mains voltage in the UK is very stable. Only rarely are there high voltage surges which could possibly damage your computer. If you wish to consider using a Surge Protector, they are available at most electrical shops.  

Plug Differences

Plugs in the UK are different from most parts of the world. If your computer does not have a 3-pin British plug, then you will have to use an adaptor. It can be purchased from the LSE Student Union shop.  

Network (Ethernet) Cards

If you wish to connect to the School's network, either from a hall of residence or at a laptop plug-in point on campus, you need to purchase an Ethernet 10/100/1000 network card, if you do not already have one installed in your computer.

LSE recommends and supports all network cards sold at the LSE Student Union shop.

Although most other network cards are compatible with the LSE network, if you do not use the recommended card, LSE can offer only limited support.  

Wireless LAN Cards (Wi-Fi Cards)

If you wish to connect to the LSE network using a wireless LAN connection, you need to purchase an IEEE802.11b/g compatible Wireless LAN card, if your laptop or PDA does not already have one installed. LSE recommends the following PC Cards:

3COM Office Connect Wireless 54 Mbps 11g PC Card 3CRGPC10075

Although, most other 802.11b cards are compatible with the LSE network, if you do not use the recommended card, LSE can offer only limited support.  


If you use this method for connecting, modems manufactured abroad may run on different frequencies to British phone lines. In the UK it is illegal to connect any modem to a telephone line that is not approved by RTTER. Contact OFTEL (Tel. 020 7634 8765) for clarification.  


Reviewed September 2012