One thing you’ll find everywhere in Chile are people asking you for a RUT. No, sadly it’s not what you think it is.
So what is a RUT?
A RUT is basically the Chilean Social Security number (or National Insurance number if your British, TFN if you’re Australian, etc).
Some things you need a RUT for:
- Purchase an internet, cable or a cellphone contract
- Own real estate
- Register a ‘.cl’ domain name
- Buy a car
- Pay bills
- Legally work
- Open a bank account
- Have health insurance
- Opt in to a supermarket discount program
- Obtain a Chilean driver’s license
- A lot more…
So yeah. If you’re serious about living in Chile, you pretty much need one of these. You get one automatically with your residency visa (if you’re applying for one). You can also apply for one on a tourist visa by visiting the SII office nearest to where you are living and filling out a form. You must supply a resident address but this can just be the location of a hotel.
You might have read about two numbers – a RUT and a RUN.
The reason this number has two names is a little complicated and there are some historical reasons for this.
The difference between RUT and RUN
RUT stands for Rol Único Tributario and RUN stands for Rol Único Nacional. A RUT is a tax identification number, and a RUN is the identification number for a human person, assigned to every Chilean national and resident by the Chilean government.
There are cases in which you might have a RUT and not a RUN, for example as a tourist, you can obtain a temporary RUT without a RUN for purposes such as paying tax on owned property or buying a car.
Note: Simply obtaining a RUT in this manner is not the same as residency! In most cases you cannot open a bank account, legally work in Chile or do many other things that residents can do with just this number. Nice try.
If you later become a resident, you will also be granted a RUN which will be exactly the same as your RUT. A corporation can also have a RUT. It is possible for a person to have a RUN and not a RUT if, for example, they are a minor and don’t pay taxes.
If this all sounds confusing, that’s because it is. Luckily, you don’t need to worry about the technical differences between the two. For all intents and purposes, a RUT and RUN number are exactly the same. Chileans simply refer to the combined number always as a RUT.
The bottom line: You will be issued with your RUT along with your Cédula de Identidad when your residency application is approved. Then you can use this number for everything. It’s as simple as that, end of story.