>In Chile every citizen has a RUT. It’s a number printed on a cedula de identidad (ID card) that is commonly referred to as a carné (or carnet, depending on who you ask).
It’s pretty freaking important in Chile to have one.
For example, to complete a credit card transaction they ask for your RUT. If you don’t have one, they have to get the manager who types in a code for a foreign credit card transaction and then you have to write your passport number on the slip. It takes longer and people behind you in line get frustrated. I once had to restrain myself from punching an little girl in Lider who was complaining about they delay.
You need a RUT to do important things like get a cell phone plan, open a bank account, buy property, get health insurance, etc.
You also need a RUT to do unimportant, silly things like getting an account at Blockbuster.
Luckily you don’t need a RUT to cash checks (or else I would be screwed). You can do that with your passport.
Right now I don’t have one. It’s en trámite (getting processed) and I’m impatient. Right now I’m waiting for word that my visa is ready so I can go wait in a bunch of lines to move the process along. Yesterday I was overjoyed to see the postman deliver a brown envelope that I was sure from the Interior Ministry. I was right, but it was for Sara. Sigh. Just barely I saw the mailman deliver a different looking, but equally thick and promising envelope. So I ran down, only to be disappointed because it was something for my host brother.