The Chilean I.D. card is called a cedula de identidad, and consists of photo I.D., personal details, fingerprints and a RUN or RUT number.

Cedula of a Chileno – a foriegner’s card looks slightly different and specifies “Extranjeros”

While both RUTs (Rol Único Tributario) and RUNs (Rol Único Nacional) are used for just about all the same things, RUTs are necessary for businesses and “legal persons” (thanks, Wikipedia). Most foreigners will get a RUN; as I understand it, you’ll only need a RUT if you own a business or plan on buying or selling large/high value items. Confusingly, lots of people will use the terms interchangeably.


Having a RUN will identify you as a temporary resident. As mentioned above, it is known nationally as a cedula de identidad, or just cedula, and is issued by the Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificación. It’s used a lot by the Chileans, and for foreigners, it’s a better alternative then having to carry your passport everywhere. It is necessary if you want to open a bank account, take out a loan or mortgage or to buy a phone plan. It’s an ordeal to get so listen up.


1. First of all, you need to have a visa. Once achieved, you have to register your visa. I have a Work and Holiday Visa. No, I don’t know if you can get a RUN without a visa. I think you would have to apply for some sort of residency and go from there.


2. Take your passport and visa to the International Police office (called the Jefatura Nacional de Extranjería y Policía Internacional, address: Calle Morande 672, Santiago). Click here and then the “Pasos Fronterizos” tab to find your nearest office. This is a specific place for foreigners to deal with their visas. For the tiny fee of $800 CLP ($1.6 USD, as of 2012) they will check all your information (including parents names, address, occupation) and register your visa.


3. Take whatever they hand you, gather up a photocopy of your visa and one of your passport’s photo page, and head over to the Registro Civil E Identificacion. This is a little office located on Calle Jose Miguel Claro 543, closest Metro Salvador or Manuel Montt (for other locations, click here). Head around the back and you’ll see heaps of people queuing. Both the International Police and the Civil Registry offices close at 2pm and are always packed, so if you can, get there early – around 8am – or you’ll be in for a really long, really boring day. Most likely, you won’t make it to both places in one day.

Give them the paperwork, pay the $3600 CLP and if everything’s okay, they’ll take your fingerprints and your photo and then send the whole lot off for processing. They’ll hand you a form with the details of your request and a date that you can expect to pick up the finished card. On the form will be a website where you can track the progress of your card – it’s a good idea to check so you don’t make the journey and wait the wait, only to be told… “No! No todavia” (No, not yet).


4. When it’s ready, head back again to the Civil Registry office, line up, wait, and finally pick up your card. You’ll now get to wave it around quite a lot – it’s often requested that you show your RUN card or write your RUN number on receipts, when booking tickets, getting on buses, domestic flights… Whenever they feel like it really.


This information is based on my personal experience. I hear occasionally that people have slightly different experiences depending on their particular circumstances. If you have useful information that you would like to volunteer, please feel free to contact me through the website to share it.


For a giggle, click here to check out this guy’s notes on renewing a visa and getting a RUT number.