If you have to leave Spain for a certain period of time but you are not going to have your residence card with you because it is still being processed or you are waiting for a duplicate or renewal, then keep on reading. Because you will have to apply for a return authorization (called “autorización de regreso” in Spanish). In this post we will go over the 3 main scenarios in which you can obtain it, how and where to do it. Besides, we will also explore all the related legal information you need to know to get this document easily.


What is a return authorization or “autorización de regreso”?


A return authorization is a document issued by the police that will allow you to leave and subsequently return to Spain in case you temporarily do not have your physical residency card yet or your permit is being renewed.

The reasons or situations in which you may need this document are very common.

As a foreigner living in Spain, it is very likely that at some point you will wish to return to your country of origin (or travel to another country for any reason).

Although it is most common to travel for summer or Christmas vacations, there may also be an emergency that forces you to leave the country.

The problem arises when you do not have your residency card at the time of the trip (since the Spanish administration is still processing it or it has expired).

Why? Because, as you already know, when trying to cross the Spanish borders at the airport, the authorities will ask for your TIE in order to allow you to enter back again.

Hence, leaving the country without a valid card can generate legal problems.

In addition, in many cases the destination country will not let you leave (to return to Spain) unless you have this authorization, so you will not only encounter problems when you arrive at the Spanish borders, but even before.

That is why in that situation you are required to request this “autorización de regreso”, which is mainly used on trips made by plane.


Legal limitations


There is something you should keep in mind in relation to the return authorization.

This is a document that just allows you to return exclusively to Spain.

That is to say, it will only be useful for direct flights from your country of origin (or country where you have been) to the Spanish territory.

Therefore, if, for example, in order to land in Spain you must first make a stopover in any Schengen area country (such as Italy, France or Germany, for example), you could experience certain legal problems. Although this is not the most common situation, you should take it into account and be really careful.

In addition, contrary to what many foreigners think, an autorización de regreso does not allow you to travel throughout Europe.

As we have already mentioned, this document is only valid for leaving Spain and then re-entering this specific country.


What is its validity?


The validity of this document is equivalent to 3 months from the moment it is issued by the police, so you will have to balance well the deadlines of your application and your trip.

From when do these 90 days start to count?

It depends on whether or not the residence permit (or stay) is up for renewal:

  • If it is not, those 90 days start counting from the date the document was granted.
  • If it is, from the day the authorization has been granted if it was requested after the expiration of the residence permit; or from the date of expiration of the TIE if it was requested beforehand.


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In which cases can a return authorization be requested?


There are three main scenarios in which it is possible to request this autorización de regreso:


Residency or stay renewal


As you may already know, when the expiration date of your residence card approaches, you must renew it in order to continue residing legally in Spain.

There is a period of time in which you will not have a valid TIE. That is, since your card has expired and until you receive the new renewed card. 

If you are within this period (which can last up to 30 days) and wish to travel abroad, you must apply for a return authorization to leave the country.

But there is also an extra situation that not many foreigners are aware of.

If you are a student, you can also apply for a return authorization.

But that is possible as long as you are requesting the extension of your period of stay for study purposes (remember that stay and residency periods are not the same thing).

Otherwise, if you are modifying your student visa to a residence and work card, for example, then it will not be possible.


Applying for a duplicate of your TIE


It is possible to lose your residency card, to have it stolen, or that it degenerates into a poor condition.

In all these cases the foreigner must request a duplicate (due to theft, deterioration, or loss), which can take up to 45 days after formalizing the request.

During this time you will have to, again, request a return authorization if you wish to travel outside Spain.


Initial application for your residence permit


Finally, there is a third situation in which it would also be possible to obtain this authorization to leave and re-enter Spain.

That is, when you formalize your initial application for your residence permit in Spain.

This process is divided into two stages, since you will not receive the physical card at the very same moment.

The first thing you must do is to visit the closest police office to register your fingerprints.

After 20 to 30 days of that first visit, you will have to come back to pick up the physical card; so you will spend 3 to 4 weeks without a physical legal document in the country.

In case you have to travel and you have enough reasons for it, you could exceptionally apply for a return authorization in this situation as well.


Where can you apply for an autorización de regeso?


To get your return authorization you should go to the nearest police station or immigration office in your city.

You can find your nearest office here.

To do so, you will need to make an appointment, which can be sometimes complicated for the reasons we will explore below.

You can make an appointment through the following link:

Make an appointment here.

You must select your province, and in the drop-down menu choose the option: “POLICIA – AUTORIZACIÓN DE REGRESO“.


Required documents


The procedure itself is quite simple, and the list of documentation is short.

On the day of the appointment at the police station you must bring the following documents:

  • The application form EX-13, marking with an X your particular situation in section number 4 “Datos relativos a la solicitud”.
  • Passport and a copy of it.
  • Proof that you have already registered your fingerprints, the document certifying the application for your initial card or its renewal, or confirmation of TIE duplicate (depending on your situation).
  • Proof of payment of the corresponding fee. That is done through the form 790-052 if processed at the Immigration Office, or through the form 790-012 if processed at the Police Station.
  • Copy and original of your Spanish residency card.


How long does the return authorization letter take?


While it is true that this is a process that does not usually take very long, you should be very careful with timings.

The exact waiting time depends on the workload the police experiences at the moment, but usually you will be granted your authorization on the spot or within just a few days.

However, this may not be the case.

If, for example, you apply for the authorization on key dates, such as summer or Christmas when many foreigners return to their countries of origin, the police station may be saturated with this procedure.

That is why if you do not plan ahead and apply early enough, you could be left without your document (both due to a lack of early appointments and due to the delay in the delivery of the document).

This delay can be as long as one or two weeks.


Remember that for any questions you may have or for specialized legal advice, our immigration lawyers are happy to help:


Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and solve all your doubts:


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