EU Referendum

Reality Check: 'Do I need a new passport?' and other Brexit questions

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Nigel Farage holding a passport Image copyright Getty Images

The Reality Check team has been sent many questions about people's personal circumstances and how they will be affected by the UK leaving the European Union.

David Cameron has said he plans to let his successor activate Article 50, which is the point when the clock starts on the negotiations for a Brexit.

Once an application has been made, it has to be completed within two years. That period can be extended but only if all 28 EU countries agree.

You can read more about the effect on your finances here. And here are some of the other things we've been asked about the most.

Will I need a new passport?

You will have noticed that the top line on the front of the UK passport says "European Union".

Because the UK will remain a member of the EU for as long as it takes to negotiate the exit deal, such passports will be valid over that period - so there is no need to worry if you are travelling this summer, for example.

After the UK leaves, there will presumably be new British passports that will no longer say "European Union" on them.

While we can't say this for sure, it seems likely that the new design would just be phased in as existing passports expire.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Will my Ehic card still work?

The European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) entitles travellers to state-provided emergency medical treatment within the EU country they are visiting.

It works in any EU country as well as Switzerland and the European Economic Area (EEA) countries Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

It will continue to work for as long as the UK is in the EU - so for at least as long as Article 50 negotiations take.

After that, it is possible that the UK will have negotiated a deal to retain preferential access to the single market, as the EEA countries have, which would mean the continued use of Ehic.

Alternatively, the UK already has reciprocal deals with a number of countries, including Australia and New Zealand, under which visitors can receive free urgent treatment. It could agree similar deals with EU countries.

Will I need a visa to travel to the EU?

Again, while the UK remains part of the EU you will still be able to travel freely in the EU.

It is possible that the UK will accept the continuation of free movement in order to retain preferential access to the single market, in which case you will continue to be able to travel freely in the EU.

If not, while there may be limitations on British nationals' ability to live and work in EU countries, it seems unlikely that those countries would want to deter tourists.

There are many countries outside the EEA that British citizens can visit for up to 90 days without needing a visa and it is possible that such arrangements could be negotiated with European countries.

What about my EU driving licence?

Your driving licence features an EU flag in the top left corner with "UK" in the middle of it.

The information on it is the same as those used by drivers everywhere in the EU.

As with passports, the licence will remain valid while negotiations take place because the UK will still be part of the EU.

What happens after that will depend on the results of those negotiations, but one possible outcome is that a new design will be phased in as old documents expire.

Image copyright Getty Images

What will it mean for people living in other parts of the EU?

During the campaign, there were no suggestions from the Leave campaign that there would be mass deportations of the 3 million EU nationals living in the UK.

There is unlikely to be any change to their status while negotiations on Brexit are under way and it is generally expected that they will be able to stay after the UK leaves the EU.

The same is true of the estimated 1.2 million UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU.

But while they are likely to be able to stay where they are, there are details that will emerge as part of the negotiations.

For example, at the moment, UK nationals claiming their state pensions in other EU countries benefit from annual increases. The same is true of some other countries outside the EU with whom the UK has social security agreements. But in many other countries, UK pensioners do not receive increases each year, which means that inflation reduces their spending power. It is not certain that UK pensioners in the EU would continue to get their annual increases.

Similarly, some UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU are entitled to state healthcare funded by the UK government, which would be open to negotiation.

'What happens to my Italian wife?'

A Reality Check reader gets in touch to ask about what happens to his Italian wife. "My wife has lived and worked in the UK for 15 years having come over from Sardinia, Italy. We got married in March of this year."

It seems unlikely that your wife will be forced to return to Italy - nobody has suggested there will be deportations of people already living and working in the UK.

If there were to be problems, she may be eligible to apply for British citizenship as she is married to a British citizen and has been in the country for more than five years.

UPDATE: Last line corrected on 29 June from three years to five. Full details here.

Bringing booze back

Andy asks: "When we leave the EU - will duty limits be reintroduced? For example, will we be restricted to just six bottles of wine being brought back from our trip to France?"

Unless there is an agreement in the negotiations, customs limits are likely to be reintroduced.

At the moment, the limits for bringing wine into the UK from outside the EU is four litres, which is just over five bottles.


Read more: The facts behind claims in the EU debate


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