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: https://sede.mpt.gob.es/icpplus/citar