Autorización de Regreso, or in English: Ridiculousness

At the beginning of the month we had a long weekend (“long bridge” in common Spanglish). I spent five days in Porto, which is a beautiful, calm, nice city. I stayed at the best hostel I’ve ever been to, too – the Oporto Poet’s Hostel.

But I’m not here to talk about beautiful, nice, calm things. I’m going to tell you about my most recent experience with the Spanish bureaucracy.

This morning, I had an appointment to get a piece of paper called an “Autorización de Regreso” – permission to return to Spain after leaving, since my residency card (NIE) has expired and is in the process of being renewed.

Carrying your renewal documents around is just not good enough, and you need this form to re-enter the country any time you leave, if your NIE isn’t valid. I thought for non-EU countries, but no, it’s actually for ANY other country.

So, you pay 10 euros, bring them copies of the stamped forms that THEY gave you, and then they give you a piece of paper that says you can come back. Mine expires February 14th – they are valid 90 days. It is only valid once. Once you show it at passport control, they take it, then that’s it. If you want to leave and return again, you need another form.

No, you can’t get more than one form at a time. Even if you pay.

Technically, though, I imagine that you could have an appointment at 9:00 am, give them the photocopies, get the Autorización, have an appointment at 9:15 am, repeat, and have two forms …

Here’s what gets me. I am living in Spain legally. I don’t have a current NIE, which would permit me to come and go as I want (and as I feel is my right, but that’s a feeling and a perhaps not a fact, I don’t know, so never mind). But the REASON I don’t have a current NIE isn’t through any fault of my own, it’s because I’m waiting on the government to give it to me. And I’ve been in the process of renewing it since two months before it even expired. Which puts me four and a half months into the process, with no end in sight.

Here’s what I propose. When you have your appointment to renew your NIE and bring the twelve pounds of required photocopies, and pay the 16.32 tax, you can, at that time, pay a 10 euro fee for an Autorización de Regreso form, and get it, and it is valid until such time as they get their act together and give you your NIE card. It could even have a limit, for example, three months. Why not keep it at 90 days? And then the onus would be on them to get you your NIE within three months.

Because, dear Spain, as much as you are doing me a favour by giving me a job and letting me live and work in your awesome country, at some point, there has to be a little give and take. Am I not doing you a favour by helping some of your children speak better English? I am offering to keep the ridiculous 10 euro fee so that you don’t miss out on any cash (I hear you’re short of cash these days).

Back to today.

The appointment was near metro Aluche at 9:00 am – the address they gave me for the appointment was “Avenida de los Poblados, S/N, 28044). As in, Poblados Avenue, no number. Seriously Spanish. Giving someone a street and postal code and saying “Go!” is considered adequate direction this country. But really, it was easy to find.

Apparently it’s on the grounds of Franco’s big prison in Madrid – Cárcel de Carabanchel. Next to the driveway into the Oficina de Extranjeros, there is a mysterious door. Like, the rest of the building has been demolished, but they left the door and a few bricks around it. A cursory internet search yielded nothing, so anyway, mystery door.

My appointment was at 9:00, so I arrived at 8:45 and got into line – there were hundreds of people about, and about 20 or so of them in line for the Autorización de Regreso. I was seen by about 9:20, and out by 9:30. The people who had 9:00 am appointments and actually arrived at 9:00 had a really, really long wait. They have photocopy machines there, outside, for people who forget a photocopy of one document or another. I know I did.

I have a lot of friends who aren’t bothering to get the Autorización de Regreso, and are just going to take their chances. Im not really a risk-taker, and don’t think I have particularly good luck, so I’m not going that route. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to get the form itself. It’s just the logic, or lack thereof, behind it that defies understanding.

Checklist for Autorización de Regreso:

  • EX-13 Solicitud de autorización de regreso (I left empty the section where it asks you to explain why you need to leave and how long you expect to be away.)
  • Tasa Modelo 790 – Codigo 052. Tick off 1.6.3 Autorización de regreso. Take to any bank. Pay 10 euro fee. Cry a bit inside.
  • EX-00 Solicitud de autorización de estancia y prórrogas. The stamped form from your NIE appointment. And a photocopy.
  • NIE card and a photocopy
  • Passport and a photocopy of the main page
  • Also bring the printout of your “justificante de cita” (proof of appointment) OR (like me) just write down the number and have it handy
You can make the appointment itself online here:


Filed under Madrid

25 responses to “Autorización de Regreso, or in English: Ridiculousness


    This system is the main reason Spain is a failed State.

  2. Jessica Stratton


    I need to leave the country twice before I receive my renewed NIE. Were you able to apply for a second autorizacion de regreso after applying for and reentering with your first one?

    I would appreciate a reply. Please feel free to email me with any info you might have:

    Thanks so much!

    • I haven’t used my autorización yet, but theoretically it should be possible to get
      another one once you come back.
      Best case scenario, they don’t ask you for it the first time and you only end up needing the one. Or none, if they never ask.
      Good luck!

  3. Pingback: Autorización de Regreso, Part 2 | Ice Cream in Madrid

  4. Kim

    Hi Aesclinn

    Thanks for the info, it’s been real help as I will have to go through the process in the next few weeks. Just a quick question…
    Do they keep the original, stamped EX-00 Solicitud de autorización de estancia y prórrogas, or just the copy? Surely you would need the original again if you want apply for a second Atorizacion de Regreso.


  5. Palin

    HI, First of all thank you for this post it helps me understanding a lot more and it’s more or less like my situation.

    I’d like to ask you something if you know the answer. My situation is i’m a Thai citizen and here as a masters student. My residence permit is expired on 31 July and on 26 July I will fly from BCN and then I will travel around Germany – Italy – Holland. Then I plan to fly from Germany to Thailand at the end of August not coming back to Spain anymore.

    I went to International Welcome Point at my Uni because they said they could help us ‘extend’ our stay in Spain for 30 days ‘for study reasons’ after our NIE expires. So I submit the documents to extend as I want to travel after my actual NIE is expired. They told me what I will get is an official paper saying that i’m extending the permit to stay here for 1 month. Today I went to the police for this Autorizacion de Regreso as some friends suggest me to request for this Autorizacion to come back to Spain and fly back to Thailand from Spain. But the officer said I don’t need this Autorizacion because I want to fly back to Thailand from Germany and not coming back here so I can travel without it. But I talked to German Embassy and reading your article and it sounds impossible not to have it. Tomorrow I will go back and request for it anyway. My question is:

    -With this Autorizacion and this letter of extension, I can travel around EU?
    -And if i really can, is it neccessary to come back to Spain and fly back to Thailand from here or I can just fly from Germany?
    -How long does it take to get this Autorizacion, do I get it in the same day I submit the application with all the documents?
    -Some said I need to show them my ticket back to Spain too, is it necessary?
    -Your case is you will get a renewed NIE but my case is ‘Extension of stay-for study reasons'(just for 1 month), do you know if I can still travel?
    -DO you think there will be any problem for me at the airports since I will be travelling for more than 1 country.

    Sorry for long post and numerous questions. I’m really desperate and confused plus i’ve already booked the tickets.

    Best regards,


  6. Aparna

    I have just applied for the NIE card and I am going to India next week. I am trying to get an appointment online to apply for Authorizacion de regression in Barcelona, but no appointments are available. Can you please suggest, what should I do?

    • You could try just showing up at the office and trying to get the authorization. You would have to be very persistent as they like to insist on appointments – but if you explain the situation (enough times) and refuse to leave, I imagine you’d get it eventually? I hope.

      The other option would be to travel without it. If you go that route, I would bring all of your documents with you (everything you brought to your NIE appointment, and then some) so that if you have any problems when you’re coming back, you can show them that you are in the process of renewing your NIE. With all of these things, you never quite know what will happen – depends on the day, the person you encounter, etc. Best of luck!

  7. Aparna

    Dear Aesclinn,
    Thanks for your reply. I will try the first option you suggested, I will go to their office first thing in the morning and I really hope things work out.
    Thanks again for your response 🙂

    • Good luck! Be persistent! I hope it works out for you.

      • Aparna

        Hi Aesclinn,
        I did manage to get the return authorization on that day 🙂 . It was not too bad. I just had to go to another office than I had the information. In this other office, there were many people for walk-in.

  8. karan

    Hello There,
    well i am in the process of getting the NIE and i am planning to travel from spain – italy – germany – norway – amsterdam – frand and back to spain … my question is will autorizacion de regraso allow me to travel between these countries?? cause i am not getting any such clear information about it …

  9. Hi Aesclinn,
    I came across your post today when looking into my situation that has to do with the Autoracion de Regreso and any wisdom would be helpful. I applied for my NIE in June, it expired early in July. It is now mid August and I am leaving for Germany on Thursday. When I applied for my new NIE I was leaving for Portugal and I asked for an Autoracion de Regreso and was told that I did not need it for Portugal just if I felt unsure take my application letter that they stamped saying it’s in progress. I wish I had just demanded one then but I did know that it is such a lengthy process to just get a letter saying I can return. I went today to my local foreigners office to get one and was told there is nothing they could do because it takes 5 days to get this piece of paper after applying for it and Thursday and Friday are holidays and the boss is not in today. It is Tuesday and I leave for Germany Thursday evening so three days is not sufficent even if it wasn’t a 2 day holiday week (which I was unaware of because there are so many holidays in August). Anyway, my question to you is: Will I need it to get back into the country after going to Germany. It’s for a work conference so missing it because Spain loves paper work, holidays and taking their time is not really an option. I realize I could have gone before so that is on me but in fairness I did ask for one before and was told it was no big deal so I didn’t realize it was such a lengthy process to get one. It’s not like they gave me any info on it when I asked. I’m just frustrated and nervous that this is going to really mess up my plans when I’m not here illegally. I did everything right except knowing the time frame of the letter. Any advice or info would be helpful because I’m freaking out a little. Hopefully you still read these comments! Thank you so much!

  10. elena

    hahahahaha nice piece 🙂 I am currently having exactly the same experience. I guess you just have to laugh about it, though, there’s nothing else one can do. Administration is a pain everywhere in the world… As for the mystery door, I wonder about it every time I pass that parking lot as well, so if you find out anything, please let me know 🙂

    • I agree – wherever you go, bureaucracy is a drag. I can’t say I haven’t had some awful bureaucratic experiences at home in North America with everyone from banks to the DMV, but it definitely makes it more frustrating when you can’t communicate perfectly in the language you’re using.

  11. elena

    Though, I have to say, some of the people working at the ministry of interior affairs are extremely rude, and don’t speak english at all, even refuse to try to understand you or to accept that they should speak english. I mean, they work with foreigners all the time and English is an international language. if I can find time to try to learn spanish, the people there should be able to meet me half-way… That whole place and the way that foreigners are handled is very bad indeed and it makes a very bad image for spain as an international center of… whatever. Of course when I go back home I will have this bad experience to share with other people, so then others might think twice before coming…

  12. Salem

    hello there, Do you think that it is possible to travel around EU with the Authorizacion de regression?


  13. Aamir

    hello, i have submitted my documents for my nie renewal only one document was remaining, but i need to go back home, so is it posssible i can get the regresso and then submit the remaining documents?

  14. Dani

    I’m getting married to a Spaniard and I needed to apply for a visa extension because our wedding doesn’t take place within my original 90 day tourist visa. I have to travel to France before were married and will apply for an “Authorization de regresso” to do so, but once I am married so a Spanish man will I need to have a “authorization de regresso” each time i leave the country? We plan to go to Thailand for our honeymoon and then to the US shortly after for Christmas.

  15. Bianca

    Hi there, how long did it take you to get your document after you applied?

  16. Bo

    Hi everybody,

    Just to share some of my own experience.

    It happens to be that I always need to travel somewhere in the period of renovation of NIE.
    Now, the extra problem for me is that I am coming from a non-EU country. Therefore, every time I want to go home (say, for Christmas) and come back to Spain during this renovation period, I have a problem. EVEN THOUGH I am bringing Autorización de Regreso with me every time.

    Namely, Autorización de Regreso is allowing you to enter Spain. And only that. If you’re entering EU somewhere else, even though your final destination is Spain, they have the right not to let you in.
    I usually have to go through Germany. Last time I did it, I showed them Autorización and they just asked “What is this?”, sent me to a separate office and kept me there for some time. In the end, after a lot of yelling, they let me go, saying things like “you were lucky my boss was in a good mood today”. I tried asking what I should do in future if I happen to be in the same situation and they told me that I would need a German visa. And continued threatening by saying they would send me back to my country if I don’t stop making questions.

    Therefore, if you’re going back to Spain with expired NIE and with Autorización, but you don’t have a direct flight to Spain, my suggestion is to avoid EU countries. I will have the same problem this Christmas and I will probably fly through Istanbul….

    Of course, you can always risk. 🙂

    • Oh, goodness – thanks for sharing your experience. I don’t live in Spain anymore and I definitely don’t miss the system. Bureaucracy! I am glad that so far it’s worked out for you – I do have a friend who was once turned away at the airport 😦 Good luck!