Work Abroad but earn in USD

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bringing Your Electronics / Laptop to Argentina

The power system in Argentina is very much different than the USA. If you are from Europe, however, chances are all your electronics will work in Argentina. If you read my previous article on electronics customs taxes, you’ll realize why you might want to bring your electronics with you to Argentina rather than buying new. The only problem this presents is that your stuff might not work there if you are from the USA.

So, how do you find out? First, a little overview on power… just enough to make you familiar. Power is measured in volts and hertz. In layman’s terms, volts are the amount of juice flowing into the device and hertz is the number of times per second the electricity cycles through the device. In the USA, our system is 110v / 60hz. In Argentina, the system is 220v / 50hz. This means that the devices in Argentina need about twice as much juice, but fewer cycles. You need to make sure your electric devices that you intend to bring will function on 220v / 50hz power or you cannot bring them without converting the power (more on that later). In addition to using different power than the USA, Argentina has different plugs as well.

Adapter Plugs

You can go to your local travel store and buy a plug converter that will adapt your plug to an Argentina plug. Argentina actually has two kinds of plugs, a European style plug and an Australian style plug. So, it would be helpful if you had plug adapters for both types. I bought my plug adapters at the Samsonite Outlet store near me, but any good travel store should have them.

Finding Your Device's Power Requirements

To determine whether you can bring your device, you have learn about its power requirements. To do this, we must locate the power requirements info on your device. Most devices will state their power requirements on either the power cord, the place where the power cord extends from the device, or on power transformer of your device if it has one. If the device says 110v/60hz, your device will not work on Argentina's power. If you MUST bring it, you will have to convert the power. If you're lucky, the device will say 110-220 / 50-60hz, which means the device functions on any voltage between 100 and 220 and any hertz between 50 and 60.

There may be variations to this number as well. It might say 100-240v / 50-60hz. The key info you are looking for is that 220v is within the acceptable range for the device's volt requirements and 50hz is within the range of the device's hertz requirements. If those two numbers are included in the range, you're good to go! Most good laptops, MP3 players, digital camera chargers, and other devices that are designed for portability will work on worldwide power and have a large range of acceptable power inputs. For things that are not designed to be moved (i.e. kitchen appliances), you're probably out of luck, but you can still check to make sure.

Converting Power

If you have a device that you must take with you, it is possible to buy a step-down converter that will change the power from 220 to 110 so that your device can use the power properly. Keep in mind that this converter will only change the volts from 220 to 110, not the hertz. On some devices this doesn't matter. Some devices will say they function on 60hz, when in fact they can be used with 50hz. Other devices will only work on 60hz and even if you convert the volts to 110, you'll still be out of luck. Call the manufacturer to make sure.

Good luck with your electronics! After learning all this, I've become much more vigilant about only buying electronics that work on worldwide power. I want to make sure that from now on, whenever I travel or move somewhere, I can bring my stuff with me and not have to worry.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

GREAT POST - Very helpful & informative. I just started checking my stuff out to see if its ok for international use. Do you know what the rules are on import duties for people who bring personal property into Argentina with them? Say a family moves there, intending to stay several years, but only brings what they can take on the plane with them. Would they have to pay the 50% tax on electronics & other goods brought in?

3/02/2005 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger said...

I moved to Argentina last year. I brought down 3 laptops, 3 Vonage systems, 4 cellphones, 2 DVD players, 2 VCR's, A laser printer, 2 Cordless phones, an Ipod and a CD player.

I thought I might have problems getting all of that into the country. The route I decided would be the best was i got a student visa before I came to Argentina. It would allow me to bring in as much as I wanted without getting taxed. I had about 700 pounds of items when I moved here. Many suitcases were just full of electronics. Predictably they asked me what all these electronics were for.

I told them I was here to study. I always use humor to break a tense situation. I looked at the guy and asked him what his name was. Juan. I told him in Spanish, "Juan, my spanish is horrible...i'm going to be here a year studying spanish" (and I showed him my student visa), then told him with how horrible my spanish was, I'd need three computers, DVD players, etc. just to learn his language. He had a stern face up until I joked around.

Then he started laughing and told me to find a girlfriend and it would be much cheaper. We both laughed and he waived me through.

Once you get here, make sure you get a transformer that is powerful enough. It's not enought to just get a transformer.

Also, some transformers now have 3 outlets on the transformers which make it really convenient if you have a printer, scanner, and more. I've only seen it at a few shops included the "El Faro" store at the corner of Las Heras/Ayacucho in Recoleta. Ask for Sergio and tell him Mike from ApartmentsBA sent you. He's a good honest electrician.

Good luck.

5/15/2005 03:21:00 AM  
Blogger GMT said...

A colleague asked me to bring an IPhone with me on my next trip. Any issues with the electricity conversion from the States to Argentina?
Any suggestions on accessories to be sure it is compatible?
Appreciate the help.

You can reply to as well.

6/02/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic but can anybody recommend somewhere in Argentina where I could purchase a cheap, quality laptop in Argentina?

10/02/2009 09:32:00 PM  

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