The UK's EU referendum: All you need to know
What is happening?
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union to be held on Thursday 23 June. This article is designed to be an easy-to-understand guide - and a chance to ask other questions, a selection of which we'll be answering at the bottom of the page.
What is a referendum?
A referendum is basically a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part, normally giving a "Yes" or "No" answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won.
What is the European Union?
The European Union - often known as the EU - is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries (click here if you want to see the full list). It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has since grown to become a "single market" allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas - including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges. Click here for a beginners guide to how the EU works.
What will the referendum question be?
The question is always crucial in any referendum. The Electoral Commission proposed the wording, which has been accepted by MPs: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" The options for voters will be 'Remain a member of the European Union' and 'Leave the European Union'. Read more: Does the wording of a referendum question matter?
What does Brexit mean?
It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU - merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a Greek exit from the EU was dubbed Grexit in the past.
Who will be able to vote?
British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals living abroad who have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a general election. Citizens from EU countries - apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus - will not get a vote.
How will you vote?
It will be a similar system to that during other elections. Firstly, if you have registered to vote, you'll be sent a card telling you when voting takes place and where you should go to vote on 23 June. On that day, when you go to the polling station you will be given a piece of paper with the referendum question on it. You then go to a booth, which will have a pencil in it for your use. You then put a X in the box which reflects your choice and put the paper into a ballot box. Alternatively you will also be able to opt to vote by post.