The “cedula” is the official identity card for all Costa Ricans and naturalized citizens.

QCOSTARICA – How many “cedulas” does one need? One, of course. And how many times can you ask for a replacement? As many times as you want, it seems.

The cedula is  a credit card-sized plastic card  official identity card (ID) for all Costa Ricans and naturalized citizens.

The cedula is different form the “DIMEX” card issued by the immigration service to foreign residents.

Every Costa Rican (and naturalized) citizen must carry an ID card immediately after turning 18. Cedulas of naturalized citizens start with a “9”.

A 58 year-old man holds the record for the most cedulas replacements requested from the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE), in the last 16 years asking for 111 of the official Costa Rica identity card.

But he is not alone, the CNE has identified a small group of 10 people who request replacement cedulas often, mostly men aged between 33 and 64. In 2015, a 64 year-old man requested a new cedula a total of 18 times, according to the CNE, who has identified the abusers, but by law cannot deny them a replacement when requested.

Authorities are vigilant of people who make too many requests, suspecting fraud in some cases, interviewing the person to determine the why the need for the replacement.

The TSE says it has identified a group of 8,861 young people between 19 and 25 who have made a lot of requests for a replacement even though the first issued to them has not expired.  The cedula has a validity period of 10 years.


Of these, 6,589 are men. One of them, only 25 years old and has asked for a replacement 43 times. While in the case of women in the same age range,  2,272 who each had ordered more than six of the plastic documents. One of them, only 23 years old, has made 27 requests.

Another problem is the cost.

The TSE cannot charge for the document that it costs it around ¢2.500 colones (US$4.70) each to produce.

To combat the abuse and costs, the TSE has proposed a change in the law that would be able to charge for a replacement cedula, that is, the first is free, all copies would be at a cost to the user. The proposal will soon be presented to legislators.

Source: Ameliarueda.com, TSE