Cedula (Latin) means, in general, an order or authorization; in earlier times such a document on the authority of a king, or a royal decree, which for Spain and Spanish America was a decree issued directly by the monarch. A cedula may take the form of a brief authenticating text concerning an attached relic, such as the cedulae in reliquary pockets of the Ottonian Cross of Mathilde in the treasury of Essen Cathedral.
In many countries in Central and South America, a Cédula de Identidad, also known as cédula de ciudadanía or Documento de identidad (DNI), is a national identity document. In certain countries, such as Costa Rica, a cédula de identidad is the only valid identity document for many purposes; for example, a driving license or passport is not valid to open a bank account. The term "cédula" may also colloquially refer to the number on the identity document.
In Costa Rica, in recent years, a cédula de identidad, has been a credit card-sized plastic card. On one side, it includes a photo of the person, a personal identification number, and the card's owner personal information (complete name, gender, birth date, and others), and the user's signature. On the reverse, it may include additional information such as the date when the ID card was granted, expiration date of the ID card, and other such as their fingerprints, and all the owner's information in PDF417 code. The cards may include several security measures, including the use of ultraviolet coating. In the near future in Costa Rica, the cédulas de identidad will also be used in the digital signature process.
In Guatemala, the national ID is called DPI (Documento Personal de Identificación / Personal Identification Document), mandatory for anyone 18 or older to have (although no penalty exists for not having one). It's a credit card-sized eID card required for everything; from opening a bank account to paying taxes to receiving Social Insurance.