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 Recognitions: Science Advisor Yes, you are correct. The external field cannot be exactly zero. It is only exactly zero for a capacitor with infinite plates. For a real capacitor, keep in mind that the integral of electric field along any path gives you a potential difference. So if you have a potential difference across a capacitor, wire leading around a capacitor will certainly have electric field in it. That's the source of electromotive force resulting in the current.