Before starting the adventure of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, we may have many logical questions, and several of them have to do with the Pilgrim’s Credential. What is the Credential? Do I need it to be able to do the Camino de Santiago? How do I get it?
For this reason, we are going to clear all these doubts below, explaining all the details about this pilgrim document.
Table of Contents
What is the Pilgrim’s Credential?
The Credential is a document that identifies us as pilgrims and will be our most faithful companion on our journey to Santiago de Compostela. It will help us to get the Compostela if we have fulfilled a series of requirements that we will see below, besides being essential to be able to stay overnight in the network of public hostels scattered along all the pilgrimage routes.
It is also known as pilgrim’s passport because its main function is to certify our passage through the different localities of the Camino de Santiago.
Where to get the Credential?
To obtain the Credential we can go directly to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela to buy it. However, if this is not possible, we must go to a distributor authorized by the Cathedral of Santiago.
These places range from associations of friends of the Camino de Santiago to parishes and churches throughout Spain and beyond.
Check here for the nearest association to you.
If we travel with an agency specialized in the Camino de Santiago, it is most likely that the Credential will be included in the contracted package. Moreover, if we are about to start the Camino and we still do not have it, it is also possible to acquire it if we go to a public hostel.
How much does the Credential cost?
The Pilgrim’s Credential is pretty economical, even symbolic, since the price varies between only 50 cents and 2 euros, although in some places, such as hotels, the price can reach the 3 euros.
Although in some places it may be given free of charge, the usual donation in these cases is 2 euros.
How to use the Credential?
The way to use the Credential is quite simple: we will only have to stamp it every day throughout the stage we face that day. One stamp per day is usually enough, although two per day are recommended, especially in the last 100 km section.
This last section, which is essential if we wish to obtain the Compostela on our arrival in Santiago de Compostela, requires that we travel at least the last 100 kilometers if we go on foot or on horseback, or that we pedal at least the last 200 kilometers if we choose to make the pilgrimage by bicycle, of any of the routes recognized as official by the Cathedral of Santiago.
The most important thing to take into account is that the stamps follow a logic and correlation both geographically and chronologically.
The stamps can be obtained in different establishments that we will find along the route such as:
- City Halls
- Schools and Universities
- Churches, parishes and Cathedrals
- Some monuments
- Tourist Offices
- Even, nowadays, in some cafeterias and restaurants
On the first page of the Credential, we will find a space to fill in with our personal data, as well as those of the distributor that provides us with this document.
Is the Credential required for all Caminos?
As we mentioned before, the Credential is the official document for pilgrims and, therefore, it is used on all official Jacobean routes. In those variants that are not official or recognized as Jacobean, there is no need to use it, since by traveling these routes you will not be eligible to obtain the Compostela and, therefore, the Credential loses one of its main objectives.
There are other itineraries that have specific particularities such as the English Way from A Coruña, the kayak route or the epilogue to Fisterra and Muxía, the latter also having its own ‘Compostelas’: the Fisterrana and the Muxiana.
Can I use the Credential more than once?
There are pilgrims who walk the Camino in different phases, even over several years, generally because they do not have the necessary time to walk the entire Camino. For this reason, doubts arise among walkers as to whether the Credential can be used on different occasions.
The answer is yes, the Credential can be used until its pages are full, as it does not expire. The most important thing, as we mentioned before, is that the stamps follow a logic and a correlation both geographically and chronologically. So, if we comply with this, we can obtain the Compostela when we reach our desired destination of the Plaza del Obradoiro, even if we have not completed the entire route in one time.
Other Credentials for the Camino de Santiago
As a curiosity and a sign of the changing times in which we live, even in something as historical as the Camino de Santiago, we should mention that today there are two more Credentials: the digital Credential and the Dog Credential.
The first of these, although it does not replace the physical Credential, represents a change of format for those who also wish to register their progress along the route digitally.
The second one is more symbolic, as it is not official and is not issued by the Cathedral of Santiago, but it is a souvenir for those pilgrims who wish to undertake the adventure with their most faithful companion, as there is even a Compostela for dogs!