How to Apply for an Autorización de Regreso (For TIE Renewals)

On the ferry to Ellis Island with views of Battery Park in Manhattan (September 2015)

You may have come across this post with the intention to travel outside of Spain for the very first time since your arrival. Or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve applied for the autorización de regreso, a special travel permission form that is granted by the local police offices in different cities and provinces around Spain. Whether it’s your first time or your fourth or fifth time applying for this form, it’s always good to have a step-by-step guide handy for these types of processes.

What is an Autorización de Regreso?

Literally speaking it means an “authorization to return,” but to non-Americans, I refer to it as “the permission to travel form” non-EU citizens need when they want to (or need to) travel outside of Spain while their residency cards are being renewed.

Keep in mind it is only valid for travel outside of the Schengen Zone and not for travel to any of the countries on the aforementioned list. If you do need to travel within the Schengen Zone, the Comisaría will not issue this form for you.

If you travel around the Schengen Zone with an expired TIE, my best advice for you would be to bring every single piece of paper and carry all of those documents in a folder in your carry-on. A sample list of documents that confirm that you’re legally renewing your residency in Spain:

  • Your school acceptance letter or language assistant carta de nombramiento (work letter)
  • An updated copy of your city registry –una copia de tu padrón
  • A copy of your stamped residency or student stay renewal application
  • Your physical TIE (with a copy)
  • Your apartment rental contract/lease

If you are planning on traveling outside of the Schengen Zone (like to the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway or other countries and your residency card (TIE) is currently being renewed, you will need to apply for this form at your local police station. If you’re going to be traveling inside Spain (to places such as the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands), you won’t need this form, but again, I would reiterate that you bring copies of your TIE renewal application, a copy of your physical TIE and supporting documents to prove that you are legally allowed to reside in Spain under a student visa and are not overstaying a tourist visa.

Next, I will walk you through how to make an appointment for the autorización de regreso and which documents you’ll need to gather and bring with you.

If you’d like to read up on the requirements and steps in Spanish, this hoja informativa explains it all. (Note: it was recently updated back in August 2022)

Making the Appointment

Step 1: Select the province where you are going to apply for the autorización de regreso.
Important Note: it must be the same province where you are registered as living (dónde estás empadronado/a).
Step 2: If you’ll be applying inside the Madrid province, double-check that the type of appointment you’re going in for will be available. This cautionary message pops up often whenever you select Madrid.
Step 3: Choose the office that would be the best fit for you depending on where you live. For example, in Madrid, you can apply for the autorización outside of the city center in another municipality. Note: some offices outside of Madrid proper may take up to a week to grant you the form. The office at Avenida de Los Poblados (aka Aluche) will give it to you the same day. Most other provinces can take at least a couple of days or at most one whole week so weigh your options carefully.
Step 4: In this last drop-down menu, you will choose the Policia: Autorización de Regreso option for your specific application and click Aceptar.

Step 5: The next screen will prompt you to enter your contact information such as your first and last name, NIE, the expiration date of your card, email and phone number. Input these and then go to the next page to choose an appointment time and day.

Note: I’d really recommend you have a Spanish cell phone number by now (+34 country code) as these days online booking systems in Spain are sending confirmation texts to people before officially confirming their appointments.

Step 6: You’ll see three appointments to choose from so pick the one that would work best for your schedule. It’s important to note that for the regreso, appointments tend to get uploaded on Friday mornings so check early that day especially.

On the way to the Brigada Provincial de Extranjería y Fronteras on Avenida de Los Poblados (Metro Aluche, Madrid)

Step 7: After receiving a confirmation code from a text message to your phone, enter it into the box on the appointment page. After you click Confirmar, your appointment will be confirmed and you will receive an email with the information. Note that a table (Mesa) number might be pre-assigned to you upon confirmation. Also, check your spam folder or junk mail in case the email ends up there.

Documents to Gather

Make sure you do this process correctly so you can travel to cool places like Magheracross (Portrush, Northern Ireland, UK) in the summer if you aren’t traveling for a family emergency or to your home country.
  • Two printed and filled-out copies of the EX-13 form
  • Passport (original + copies of the first 2 ID pages)
  • TIE (original + front and back copies of card)
  • Completed EX00 form with a sticker or stamp from the Extranjeria (renewal form for those on Student stay card TIEs), OR any of the other residency renewal application forms, such as those required for work permits or family members of either EU or Spanish citizens
  • Airline ticket reservation printout (tickets should be purchased in advance in this case)
  • Reason for travel and proof, ie: summer job contract, wedding invitation, birth announcement, funeral or memorial service announcement or any other family event (the more physical, written proof the better)
  • Pay and bring the receipt for Modelo 790 Código 012 (if submitting your application via the Police Station, Comiseria) that you have paid the 10,72€ fee (updated January 2023) or pay and bring the receipt for Modelo 790 Código 052 (if submitting your application at the Extranjería/Foreigner’s Office).

Appointment Day Tips

When paying the tasa (either online or at a bank) and filling out the form beforehand, you will want to be sure you select or check off the correct type of document request.

On the Modelo 790 Código 012 form, go down to the second to last paragraph which reads, Documentos de identidad y títulos y documentos de viaje a extranjeros indocumentados y otros documentos. (Translation: Identity documents and titles and travel documents for undocumented foreigners, other documents)

Underneath that category, check the box for autorización de regreso and proceed to print out the form and/or pay it online. (I recommend you pay it at a bank or ATM so that you have no technical problems and it gets stamped correctly). Most banks will allow you to pay the tasa there in cash before 10 am or 10:30 am, depending on the rules at the branch (Caixabank, formerly Caixa and Bankia separately, BBVA, Caja Madrid, Caja Rural to name a few).

If you already have your Spanish bank account set up, you can go to your own bank’s branch any time before 2 pm (closing time roughly) and pay the tasa either by having the teller charge your account or also by paying cash.

If you’re using the Modelo 790 Código 052 form, scan the page until you find the Otros Documentos 6 category and select option 6.3 Autorización de regreso. Both tasas cost the same which makes that part easy.

The light at the end of the tunnel is closer than you think. (Toledo, May 2021)

My best advice after having applied for a couple of autorizaciones de regreso myself is to go to the appointment completely prepared. Pay your tasa beforehand (it will be valid for use for up to 90 days) and make the necessary copies in advance as well. Chances are there won’t be a lot of copy shops (copisterías) or banks nearby and looking for one in areas you are unfamiliar with will only add extra, unnecessary stress to your day.

Plan to show up a little early on the day of your appointment (probably at least 30 minutes early if applying in Madrid) just to give yourself a bit of a head start when it comes to the lines. Also printing out a copy of your appointment confirmation would be a good idea in case your phone battery dies but the workers there now accept proof via your phone.

It will be granted right then and there at the end of your appointment if you bring all the required documents (normally this ONLY applies to Madrid). In other provinces, expect anywhere from 2 to 7 days to obtain your permission form depending on their rules.

Things to Know & Watch Out for

The elusive autorización de regreso form itself.

The autorización de regreso is only valid for 90 days which starts the day it’s issued. It’s technically only valid for one trip during those three months but only if it gets stamped at the airport (most likely), train station or bus station.

In my experience, I’ve never had a regreso form get stamped but I did have to show it for proof of residency in both the US (where I’m from) and the UK (where I’ve visited with my British husband). An airline employee in the US did make a copy of it back in September 2015 but that was the only time.

Before 2018, you were able to print out a screenshot of the main appointment page stating that “no hay citas disponibles” or go a few days before your flight with an appointment already booked. Today, you are not able to do either of those things and you must show up at or a little before (ie: 15-20 mins) your set appointment in order to apply for the autorización de regreso.

The good news is you can apply for it on the same day you renew your student stay TIE and turn in that application.

Minus personal information (printed on the above parts of this form), this is what the rest of the form looks like. Remember when planning your time outside of Spain that 90 days isn’t the same as three months. (The only autorización de regreso I have on hand at the moment. My other one is from late 2017)

Note: June through August and November through January are the peak seasons for travel in and out of Spain. It will be more difficult to get an appointment during those time frames so remember that when you’re getting ready to make travel plans while your card is being renewed. More than one autorización de regreso may be required if you’ll be making multiple trips to different countries (which must be all outside the Schengen Zone remember) while your card takes a while to process.

*Pro-tip:* A month or so before your desired time to book an appointment, test the system by pretending to go through all the steps to book but don’t actually confirm an appointment. Checking to see how many appointments are available and how far out they are can act as a barometer to predict what it may be like when you go into the system to officially book.

Keep in mind the exact days you wish to be outside Spain and when you plan to return when applying for this permission form. I had to wait a couple of weeks after I had applied for my first student TIE renewal in La Coruña because I didn’t want the 90 days to start counting down while I was still in Spain. I had a flight home to the US for the end of that month that June but I wasn’t going anywhere outside of the country beforehand. I also had to beg the worker at the Coruña Comisaría to grant me the regreso within the next 24 hours (normally their policy was 1 week at the time) because my flight was departing from Barcelona and I was leaving that Saturday evening to go over there. I already had my train ticket purchased, too. That was the only time I got a phone call from someone at an Extranjería office to date in my entire seven years here.

Lastly, I was recently informed by a source that the only exception for going to a Comisaría is to apply for an autorización de regreso without an appointment (and a few days before your flight) if you can present a copy of a family member’s death certificate. Legally, they must attend to you because you do indeed have a very urgent family emergency in that case.

That’s it regarding how to apply for the coveted autorización de regreso while your student stay card is expired and is in renewal. Has anyone had any different or complicated situations they’ve gotten into while applying for this form? Let me know in the comments!

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