The Compostela: what it is and how to get it

Jun 30, 2022


Among the many doubts that may arise when we decide to start our pilgrimage to Santiago for the first time, is the meaning of the compostela and what is necessary to get it at the end of our experience.

That is why we are going to explain what is this certificate about, as well as the requirements to obtain it once you arrive at the Cathedral of Santiago.

What is the “Compostela”?

The compostela, although mistakenly called “compostelana” on too many occasions, is a document issued for free by the Church to all those pilgrims when they arrive to Santiago de Compostela, after having traveled the Camino de Santiago for religious or spiritual reasons.

This certificate arose in the 13th century due to the need to issue a certificate of having completed the Camino de Santiago that was difficult to falsify, as had been the case until then.

It is important that we do not confuse the compostela with the pilgrim’s credential: this credential is where the stamps are collected to show that we have completed the Camino de Santiago by going through the corresponding stages.

To obtain the compostela, however, it will not be enough to simply make a pilgrimage to Santiago: we must meet a series of conditions, as we will see below.

How do we get the compostela?

If we want to get the compostela it will be necessary not only to travel a minimum of kilometers, but also to prove it by presenting our pilgrim credential upon our arrival in Santiago de Compostela, at the Pilgrim’s Office itself.

In this credential is where we will accumulate the stamps that show that we have passed through the stages corresponding to the Camino de Santiago that we choose. To get them we will only have to ask at any establishment where the Camino passes. They will stamp our credential in any hostel, bar, restaurant, church or business without any problem.

There are, however, more requirements to take into account if you want to get your compostela when you arrive in the Galician capital.

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Requirements to get your compostela

In addition to stamping our pilgrim credential as we go through the different stages, it is necessary to meet a series of additional requirements if we want to receive our compostela at the end of the Camino. They are the following.

Minimal distance

On foot or on horseback

If you do the Way of Saint James in the most traditional way, both on foot or on horseback, you will have to travel a minimum of 100 kilometers to Santiago to get your compostela.

By bike

In the case of bikegrims, to get your compostela when you reach your final destination, the minimum kilometers you will have to do is 200.


There are also new ways to do the Camino de Santiago, such as kayaking or sailing, for which case you will have to do a minimum of 100 nautical miles.

Two stamps per day

In any of the modalities mentioned above, our pilgrim credential or passport must include at least a couple of stamps for each day, indicating the date of each one of them. In this way we accredit having been in that place of the corresponding stage of the Way.

In case of doing the Camino de Santiago in sections (for example, if we are only going to dedicate the weekends to going through the different stages), we will have to stamp the credential in chronological and geographical order.

If we are going to do the required minimum distance continuously, we will put a stamp at least at the beginning and at the end of each stage, adding the date to record that we have resumed the Camino in the same place where we finished it the day before.

Face-to-face collection

If we want our compostela, we can only collect it by going personally to the Pilgrim’s Office. It cannot be obtained by requesting it electronically or on behalf of third parties.

In order to facilitate the collection and because of the frequent long queues formed to obtain the compostela at the Pilgrim’s Office, a form of registration using a QR code has been enabled: we will only have to fill in our data from our mobile phone and we will be assigned an alphanumeric code. We must show this code to the staff in charge of giving us the compostela when our turn comes.

Fulfilling these requirements we will be able to take home not only a certificate of having completed the Camino de Santiago, but also a nice souvenir as a reward for the effort made during our pilgrimage days.

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