If you are already in Spain but your NIE or any other legal documents are still in process, but you need to leave the Schengen Area, then you need to obtain an Autorización de Regreso, or a regreso for short. Keep reading to find out what regreso is, what documents you need and how you can get a regreso.
What is the regreso?
An autorización de regreso, or a return authorization, allows you to leave Spain, or the entire Schengen Area and be allowed back in Spain again. This is to make sure that when you return back to a Spanish port of entry, they would know that your documents have been submitted and your application is in process. Without a regreso, most likely, you will not be allowed back in Spain and you will need to apply for a visa again.
It is important to know that you can enter the Schengen Area only through a Spanish port of entry.
The document has the following pieces of information:
- First and last name
- Date and place of birth
- Passport number
- Residence permit number (your NIE number)
- Date and place of the issuance of the residence permit
- Expiration date of the regreso document
- Date and place of issuance of the regreso
The document also says that:
This document allows its holder to exit and re-enter Spain from a Spanish port of entry, without a visa, until the ______ (date). It is not valid to travel within the Schengen area.
You can see an example of an autorización de regreso here:
Who needs a regreso?
If you have submitted your documents and they are in process, and you need to leave Spain for any reason, then you need a regreso.
The official website of the Spanish Immigration Offie states that you can get a regreso only if you match any of these conditions:
- If you hold a residency card (like the TIE), or any official document that proves that you are legally allowed to stay in Spain
- If you have begun the process of renewing or extending your stay in Spain (you will need a document called justificante)
- If you have lost a valid TIE but you have officially reported it to the office and received a proof of theft, loss or destruction
- If you can prove that you need to leave Spain for an exceptional reason and that the status of your residency extention/renewal is favorable
If you already have a valid TIE, you do not need a regreso. You can present your TIE at the port of entry.
When it comes to traveling within the Schengen Area, things get confusing. Technically, you don’t need a regreso to travel within the Schengen Area but it is highly recommended. The other Schengen countries could refuse to allow you to enter their country without a valid card. We recommend getting one just in case but you should always double check with an immigration office.
What documents do you need to get a regreso?
You need to show up to your appointment well-prepared. If they refuse you just because you forgot one single document, you will need to redo the entire process all over again (which means a lot of headache and patiene).
You will need to bring with you
- the confirmation paper of your appointment
- Form EX-13 (download here)
- a justificante or a proof that your documents have been submitted and they are in process
- the receipt of paying the tax form Model 790 Code 012 (10.50€ as of August of 2019) (you need to do it online here)
- your passport
- Your valid or expired TIE if you have one
How can you get a regreso?
Before 2019, you could just show up at an immigration office a couple of days before your flight, wait a few hours and then get your paper. Starting from 2019, you cannot do that anymore. You must have an appointment.
We won’t lie. The process of booking an appointment is notoriously bad and frustrating. If you have tried to book an appointment for your NIE, you should know the headaches. Try, try and try again until you get a spot.
How to make an appointment:
- Go to this official website to start
- Select your city from the list and click on Autorización de Regreso
- On the next page, you need to select POLICIA-AUTORIZACION DE REGRESO and click on Aceptar
- On the next page, you will see lots of texts about the process and the requirements. It’s recommended to read it but if you don’t know Spanish, you can skip it because we have explained it in this blog
- On the next page (below), you need to enter your information. Enter your NIE number (if you have just moved to Spain, you can find it on your student visa), name and last name, birthyear and the expiration date of your visa/NIE. Finally, click on “No soy un robot’ and click on Aceptar.
- On the next page, you are given four options. Make an appointment (solicitar cita), Consultar Citas Confirmadas (check the approved appointment), Anular Cita (cancel an appointment), and Salir (exit). Click on Solicitar cita to make an appointment.
Now this is where you will most likely see the image below with the text saying that there are no appointments available. 99% of times, you will see this infamous and widely hated message.
We have heard lots and lots of stories about people trying different things to get an appointment like trying at 5 in the morning or using multiple devices at the same time. Honestly, thre is no wa around it. You just have to try, try, try and try again until you see free time slots.
- Once you get lucky, you will see a list of appointments available at different immigration offices. Make sure you check all the locations to pick the one closest to your location.
- Confirm your appointment, print out the confirmation email.
- Before you go to your appointment, fill out the EX-13 form with your information (download here), and print it twice
- Fill out the tax form 790-012 online here (read next section)
- Go to the immigration office and tell the receptionist/front desk that you have an appointment and you need a regreso. You can say “Hola. Tengo una cita para obtener la autorización de regreso“
How to fill out the online tax form 790-012
- Go to this online link
- Enter your NIE number, full name, and home address.
- Select .Autorización de regreso. from the list
- Enter your location under LOCALIDAD and the date under DECLARANTE.
- Under INGRESO, select “en efectivo” if you would like to pay cash at any bank or “E.C. Adeudo en cuenta” if you want your bank account to be charge. In this case, enter your bank account number under IBAN.
- Enter the security code and click on Descargar impreso rellenado.
- Print the tax form, take it to any bank if you have decided to pay by cash and pay the fee. Make sure you do not lose the receipt. You will have to present the receipt as a proof of payment
The process of getting a regreso is slow, frustrating and tedious. The only way around it is to pay an immigration lawyer to do all the work for you. If you need extra help from an immigration law firm, make sure you check out the Legal Help page on our website.
Let us know in the comments below about your experience applying for a regreso and if you know any tips for the others.