What Is a Cedula Number?

A cédula number is an identification number used on the national I.D. cards issued by various Spanish-countries. Cédula numbers are given to citizens upon birth or at the time of naturalization for immigrants. They are used in a similar context as Social Security numbers and cards in the United States.

The word “cédula” comes from the Latin word “schedula,” meaning a small slip of paper. In many cases, the card with the identifying number is a literal slip of paper, though some countries, such as Costa Rica, use plastic. The card can be used in lieu of a passport at border crossings between Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In Panama, the cédula number is primarily used for voting, but is also a common form of identification and may even be printed in the newspaper alongside a person’s name.