Wednesday 23 June 2021

Costa Rica Has 235.000 “Invisbles”: Citizens Without A Cedula

The “invisibles” are all those Costa Ricans over the age of 18 and dot no have a “cedula”, a credit card-sized plastic national identification card. According to the Civil Registry (Registro Civil), the number of invisibles has reached 235.605 of which 52% (123.383) are men and 48% (122.222) women.

Los funcionarios del Registro Civil no tendrÌan tantas carreras en una eventual segunda ronda pues no votarÌan quienes cumplan 18 aÒos despuÈs del 3 de febrero.These are citizens who in their life have ever gotten their cedula, ghosts to a state in which all processes (tramites) require a cedula.

“The rights of every Costa Rican are inalieanble, but without applying for a cedula they are self-limiting”, says Luis Guillermo Chinchilla, director of the Registry.

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Without a cedula, a Costa Rican cannot open a bank account or take out a bank loan, transact with any public institution, get a passport, a drivers license or vote, for example.

According to the National Census (Censo Nacional) taken in 2011, this group represents 8% of the adult population.

The Registro says it there is no clear reason why a person would not apply for their cedula. “We cannot speculate on the reasons…It is private and everyone has their reason”, said Chinchilla.

One reason that cannot be is that is a difficult and costly process.

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To apply for the first time, a person has to only make a personal presence at the “Solicitudes Cedulares” department and their document is ready in eight days.

Source: La Nacion

Interesting facts

  • The cédulas de identidad or “ceédula” number begins with the province the person was born, San José for example is “1”.   The cedula of a naturalized Costa Rican begins with an “8”.
  • Foreign residents cedulas are different and are called “cedula de residencia” and is issued by the immigration service and no the Civil Registry.
  • In the near future in Costa Rica, the cédulas de identidad will also be used in the digital signature process.
  • Click here to consult the Civil Registry database where you can search information on cedulas, names, marriages and deaths.


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We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

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