If you're leaving Spain for a period but won't have your residence card due to it still being processed, or you're waiting for a renewal or duplicate, then you'll need to apply for a return authorisation.
This article provides detailed information on the circumstances in which you can apply for it, the process of application, where to apply, and all the legal requirements you should know to facilitate document processing.
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Let’s take a look.
What is a return authorisation?
The return authorisation or the ‘Autorización de Regreso’ as it is referred to in Spanish is a document that is specifically designed for foreigners who are in the process of renewing or extending their residence or stay permit in Spain. It serves as an authorisation to leave the country and return within 90 days.
This document is essential for those who may have urgent matters to attend to outside Spain while their permit is still being processed. It provides them with the freedom to travel without the risk of being denied entry upon their return.
It's important to note that this document is only applicable for a single trip outside of Spain. If the individual needs to travel again while their permit is still in the renewal or extension process, they must apply for another return authorisation. Additionally, this document is only valid for 90 days, and the individual must return to Spain before its expiration.
Who is eligible to apply for the authorisation?
What documentation do you need to provide?
The list of documentation required for the procedure is quite short, and the process itself is relatively simple. On the day of the appointment at the police station, you will need to provide the following documents:
How can you apply for the return authorisation?
Before going you must make an appointment online.
How much does it cost?
The current cost of the return authorisation is 10.72 Euros.
How long does it take to process?
Although this process usually does not take long, it is important to exercise caution. The amount of time it takes to obtain authorisation depends on the workload of the police station, but typically you can expect to receive approval either immediately or within a few days.
However, there are circumstances where this may not be the case. For instance, if you apply for authorisation during peak periods such as summer or Christmas when many foreigners are returning to their countries of origin, the police stations may be overwhelmed with processing requests.
Thus, it is crucial to plan ahead and submit your request well in advance, as failure to do so may result in significant delays of up to one or two weeks in obtaining your document.
What is the validity period of the return authorisation?
The validity of the return authorisation is limited to 90 days, and the exact time frame depends on the renewal status of your residence or stay permit.
If your permit is not due for renewal, the 90-day validity period starts from the date of its issuance.
However, if your permit is in the process of renewal, the validity period differs based on when the return authorisation is requested. If it's requested before the permit expires, the 90-day period starts from the permit's expiration date. But, if the request is made after the permit has already expired, the validity period begins from the date of the return authorisation's issuance.
You must use the document within the 90-day period and make sure you also return within this period. The document can only be used once within the 90 days. If more journeys are required you must apply for another authorisation.
Are there any legal limitations to the autorizacion de regreso?
It's important to note that the return authorisation is a document that serves only for returning to Spain and cannot be used for any other purpose.
This means that it will only be valid for direct flights from your country of origin or the country you have been in, to Spanish territory. If, for instance, you need to make a stopover in any Schengen country, such as Italy, France or Germany, before arriving in Spain, you may face difficulties. Although this is not a common scenario, it's essential to keep it in mind.
Furthermore, it's worth mentioning that the return authorisation does not grant you permission to travel throughout Europe, contrary to what many foreigners assume. As mentioned earlier, this document serves exclusively for leaving Spain and subsequently re-entering the country.
Foreigners who are subject to restrictions on their freedom of movement by the Judicial Authority as a precautionary measure, or those involved in an extradition process, or have been issued a final judgement may not be granted an authorisation to return while they are prohibited from leaving Spain.
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