Residency permits For Members

Spain’s return authorisation: When and how should I get it?

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
Spain’s return authorisation: When and how should I get it?
Spanish civil guards help with security checks at Barcelona's El Prat airport on August 11, 2017. Photo: Josep LAGO/AFP

The 'autorización de regreso' is something you'll need when you want to leave Spain (and get back in) and haven't got your residency card. Here's what it is, when and where to get it, and how.


What is a return authorisation?

In Spain, a 'return authorisation' (autorización de regreso in Spanish) is a temporary document issued by the police that allows you to leave and, crucially, to return to Spain when you don't yet have your residency card. For non-EU residents, including most Britons after Brexit, this is the TIE.

It is worth noting that a return authorisation is a document that only allows you to enter Spain and not other EU countries, so this is worth keeping in mind when booking flights with stopovers.

READ ALSO: Can I travel to Spain if my passport has expired?


When should I get one?

Simply put, when you haven't got your residency card for whatever reason.

Maybe you've applied and don't have the card yet, or you're renewing your card and still waiting for a replacement, during the time you have to travel. There could be quite a few reasons why you don't have your residency card with you when travelling, but we'll outline the three most common here:

Renewing residency

If your residency card is approaching its expiration date, you must request a renewal to continue living legally in Spain. That means there'll be a short amount of time that you don't have a residency card.

This can last as long as a month, so if you want to leave Spain during this period you'll need to apply for the return authorisation so you can prove at the border that you are legally resident in Spain. 

Getting a new TIE

If you misplace your TIE, or have it stolen, or it is damaged and becomes illegible, you'll also need to apply for a return authorisation if you want to leave the country and come back again.

You may also have the older, small green residency certificates (which the Spanish government recommends Britons exchange for a TIE but isn't strictly necessary or enforced). They are much more prone to water damage than the hard plastic TIE card.

If this happens to you, applying for a new TIE or residency card can take some time, up to six weeks often.

Similarly to the residency renewal process, this will leave you without anything to prove you legally reside in Spain, so a return authorisation will be necessary to leave the country and re-enter.

READ ALSO: How to travel to Spain if your residency document has expired

Initial residency application

Of course, you might not have a residency permit because you don't yet have residency in Spain. When you first arrive in Spain and complete all the initial paperwork and administrative tasks (going down to the police station to give your fingerprints, getting your NIE, and so on) it can take around a month to be issued with your residency card.

So if you're in the process of applying for residency but haven't yet received a decision (or card) you'll also need an autorización de regreso if you need to unexpectedly leave the country. 


How and where do I apply?

In order to get a return authorisation, you'll need to make an appointment at your nearest police station or immigration office (known as the 'extranjería').

You can use this search tool to find your nearest police station here.

And you can make an appointment here.

Which documents do I need?

Once you've made your appointment, you'll need to take a few documents with you. 

  • Your passport (and a photocopy).
  • Documentary proof that you have either applied for, are renewing, or are in the process of receiving a duplicate TIE card.
  • Proof of payment (form 790-052 at the extranjería or form 790-012, if you're doing it at the police station).
  • Form EX-13, which you can find here, clearly marking your personal situation in the 'Datos relativos a la solicitud' under Section 4. 
  • If you are renewing your residency card, bring along the expired one.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

J 2023/03/28 18:35
“Up to 30 days to get a new/ replacement card”??? What planet do you guys live on??? It can take more than 60 days just to get your appointment and then another 45-50 days to get the card.

See Also