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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baby Paperwork: CUIL numbers

In order to have a bank account, get a credit card, own a car, or receive any Social Security benefits in Argentina, you must have something called a CUIL (Código Único de Identificación Laboral). This is a number that includes your DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) with two additional digits in front and one digit added at the end.

Jon and I got our CUILs through Jon's company almost immediately after we arrived in Argentina. Until we had a CUIL, Jon couldn't get paid, and we had to (pretty much) store all of our cash under a mattress in our rental apartment, so this was priority #1. After that, we haven't given much thought to this number, we rarely use them, and now that everything has been set up, hardly anyone ever needs the number.

That is, until we recently tired to book a trip to Uruguay on the Buquebus ferry. The ticketing agent at Buquebus informed me that our children were not able to travel internationally until they each had their own CUIL numbers. This was a mere five days after returning from Brazil - a trip where no one needed, or even mentioned a CUIL - though when I brought this up to the agent, he shrugged and told me that we must have broken the law. I was told that we either got the kids a CUIL number, or find another way to Uruguay. Granted, I wasn't so dead-set on getting across the river, but I figured that if this was a potential problem for future travel, we may as well get the kids their CUIL numbers.

In my research into how to get the CUIL numbers issued, I found that AFIP (the larger government organization that issues CUIL numbers) has recently issued a notification that states CUILs are no longer required for children. Clearly, Buquebus has not gotten this memo - and didn't care that I brought it to their attention. Also, laws change so quickly in this country that no one can keep the current status straight, so I wasn't going to press the issue.

First, if you may already have a CUIL, you can check your number via the ANSES website. If you don't have a CUIL, read on:

Obtaining a CUIL is pretty easy, assuming you have the correct paperwork. You need to apply in person at an ANSES office. The office closest to me is located on Cordoba 1118 (esq. Cerrito) and be aware that these offices take liberal leave for holidays, days surrounding holidays and when they are open, they are open from 8:00am - 2:00pm. You don't need an appointment, but arriving early is an advantage as there always seem to be lots of people in need of the office (similar to the DMV or Social Security Offices in the US). I arrived at 8am and walked right in. You start at a reception desk where they ask why you have come and verify that you have all of the right documents. For a CUIL you need:
  • Parent's DNI (and a copy)
  • Child's DNI (and a copy)
  • Child's Partida de Nacimiento (and a copy)
Once you have proved that you're prepared, you get a number and wait until you're called. For me, this was 25 minutes. Once called, I sat and waited for each document to be painstakingly analyzed, and at the end of the process, I had a CUIL for each of my children. All included, the process took about an hour. Luckily, the kids didn't need to be with me to have the CUIL issued, so it was easy in and out.

Not the most exciting day of my life, but at least we can rest assured that our Argentinean children can successfully apply for Social Security benefits if they happen to be living in Argentina when they retire. Maybe. If the funds are still around (snicker, snicker...).

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