For almost any serious purchase or transaction, unless you are very well connected, you will need a Chilean Cédula de Identidad, sometimes called a carnét. This is essentially a photocard that links your RUT (tax tracking number) to your photo and personal details.
If you don’t have one of these you are practically a second-class citizen in Chile. People will be reluctant to sell you a car, property or to rent you an apartment. You can’t even get a supermarket club card!
You will be asked to show this if you try to:
- 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…
Importantly, once you are granted temporary or permanent residency, you may not be allowed leave the country without showing this card. Your passport in many cases will not be sufficient. If you are ever stopped by the police, you will again be asked to show this card. It’s a big deal in Chile.
If you ever lose your carnét, here is what you should do:
- Block the card by going to www.registrocivil.cl. Go to ‘En Línea’ and ‘Bloqueo Gratuito de Cédula de identidad y Pasaporte’ and follow the instructions.
- Tell the police (carabineros) in the area where you lost it.
- To obtain another card, go to the Registro Civil and present the same information that you presented the first time (i.e. your tarjeta de registro and passport). If you lost your tarjeta de registro, you will need to go to the PDI and request a new one.