What is a `Autorizacion de Regreso´

What is an Autorizacion de Regreso and why UK passport holders may need one to get back into Spain if leaving during the residency process.

As the UK is no longer a member of the European Union (EU), as from 1st January 2021 UK passport holders became subject to “general immigration rules” for the EU/Schengen area; in other words, UK passport holders are now third country nationals (TCNs).

What is a “third country national (TCN)”?
According to the EU Commission, a TCN is “ Any person who is not a citizen of the European Union within the meaning of Art. 20(1) of TFEU and who is not a person enjoying the European Union right to free movement

What does TCN status mean for UK passport holders in general?
Basically, more paperwork. There are lots of new rules and regulations that British travellers will need to get their heads around, and it’s not just about having to use the non-EU queue at passport control. Living, working, retiring and holidaying in Europe will change beyond all recognition for UK passport holders.  Although those with legal residence status in an EU country under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement will keep some rights, things will change for them too. 

In the process of applying for legal residence and need to travel outside Spain? 
You need a Autorizacion de Regreso (authorisation to return)

If you are in the process of applying for legal residence in Spain, you are advised not to travel unless and until you have your new TIE card in your hand.

However, there are circumstances when you may have no alternative – family emergency, work commitments and so on. In this case, you should apply for an Autorizacion de Regreso (ADR – authorisation to return), which is specifically for TCNs who have legal residence but no document to evidence this (e.g. as a result of loss/theft, going through the renewal process, applied for but not yet received).

When can you apply for a Autorizacion de Regreso (ADR)?
As soon as you have successfully had your ID check (fingerprint appointment) at the National Police Foreigner’s Office. At this appointment, you will be given a ‘resguardo’ (receipt) and you can use this document to apply for the ADR.

Where do you apply for ADR?
You apply for the ADR at the National Police Foreigner’s Office (Extranjeria) and it doesn’t have to be the same one where you gave your fingerprints. 

You’ll need to attend two appointments
Make the first appointment online and try not to leave it until the last minute before travelling, (especially in the summer) as there’s usually a wait of around 5 working days before the Certificate will be ready to collect. Make the collection appointment online for roughly 5 days afterwards.

The documents you’ll need:

  • Completed EX13 form with copy
  • Model 012 tax form, paid and with receipt
  • Original passport and copy (all pages)
  • Original ‘resguardo” appointment receipt and copy

Can someone else make the application on your behalf?
No – both appointments are “presencial” – the applicant has to appear in person.

How more paperwork can be a blessing in disguise
While this may seem like yet another layer of bureaucracy, it’s actually a bit of a blessing in disguise, especially after all the confusion and uncertainty with returning to Spain from the UK early in January 2021. With a Autorizacion de Regreso, you have a guarantee of being able to get back into Spain, even if you don’t yet have your TIE card in hand.


  • The Autorizacion de Regreso is only valid for 90 days in certain circumstances
  • You may have to evidence your reason for travel
  • Only valid for entry through an authorized Spanish Border Post

How can Upsticks help?
If you need to return to the UK or travel outside Spain during the residency process, just let us know and we’ll organise your Autorizacion de Regreso appointments, go with you to the Police Station and ensure everything is in order – one less item on your To Do list.

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 12.08.2022

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