Tips to do the Camino
The Credencial or Pilgrim's Passport is one of the most important features of the Camino de Santiago. No walker or cyclist should start the Camino without it, since it is the document that accredits us as pilgrims (also known as the Credential).
Both personal and non-transferable, the Credencial grants us access to hostels and allows us to complete the Compostela, serving as irrefutable proof of our pilgrimage to Santiago. Today we shall clarify some of the issues regarding its origin, function and use, as well as where the Camino de Santiago Passport can be obtained.
What is the Credencial or Pilgrim's Passport?
The origin of the Credencial goes back to the Middle Ages, when every pilgrim was given a letter of safe passage that allowed them to travel freely and without risk along the Camino de Santiago. Since then this document has developed into a type of guide in which the pilgrim can record their journey.
Where can I get the Credencial?
Many pilgrims ask where or how they can buy the Credencial. There are a number of options available: the Passport can be obtained via the different Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago de España (in Spanish), via associations abroad, in hostels and parish churches, and in the Brotherhoods of the Santiago Apostle. You can view the list here. Don't worry if you have still not obtained your Credencial when starting the Camino de Santiago. It can usually be provided at the first hostel or at tourist offices located at key points on the Jacobean Route. The price of the Camino de Santiago Passport ranges between 50¢ and €2. It can be obtained free of charge in hostels managed by the Friends of the Way Associations and in their local offices, in exchange for a donation for their efforts to maintain and improve the Camino.
In addition, pilgrims can apply for the Passport at the Oficina del Peregrino, located just a few metres from Santiago Cathedral at 33 Rúa Carretas. If you have any questions, you can contact us by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you use the Camino de Santiago Credencial?
The first page of the Credencial is used to fill out the pilgrim's details as well as displaying the stamp of the issuing body. The remainder of the document is filled with blank boxes which the pilgrim must use to collect the stamps that serve as proof of passage through the different stages of the Camino.
These stamps can be obtained in hostels, Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino, parish churches... and also at Correos. At certain branches you can even get special postmarks displaying images of iconic places from the area alongside the date of passage.
You can collect as many stamps as you want, although in order to present the Compostela upon arrival at Santiago Cathedral, there is a minimum requirement of having had your Credencial stamped twice daily throughout the last 100 kilometres for pilgrims travelling on foot or on horseback, and throughout the last 200 kilometres for those who travel the Camino by bicycle.
What is the Credencial for?
The Credencial for the Camino de Santiago serves a double function. On the one hand, it is the document that accredits us as pilgrims and grants us access to hostels. On the other hand, we can use it to complete the Compostela (which some also call Compostelana), the document that proves that you have completed the Christian pilgrimage by visiting the tomb of the Santiago Apostle.
One of the novelties of the next Holy Year will be the launch of the Digital Credential. As of January 1, 2021, coinciding with the start of Xacobeo 2021, the Santiago Cathedral will launch this digital certificate that can be managed through a mobile app. Like the traditional Credential, the pilgrim must obtain two daily stamps that certify their Camino a Santiago, but, in this case, through QR code captures. You can read more about this system in this article.
How do you get the Compostela?
To receive the Compostela your Credencial must show that you have completed at least the last 100 kilometres to Santiago on foot or horseback, or at least the last 200 kilometres by bicycle. However, it isn't necessary to have completed the Camino in one go, but all locations must be accounted for. As such, we can undertake the Route in sections as long as it is taken up again from the place we left off. Skipping any stages between distances of 100km (200 km by bike) would not be considered a completion of the Compostela.
Other certifications for the Camino de Santiago
The Compostela is the only document that certifies the pilgrimage to Santiago. However, there are other certifications that may also be of interest to the pilgrim:
- Credential stamp booklet . If you love stamp collecting or if you simply want a unique keepsake from the Camino, at Correos we have the Credential Stamp Booklet (Credencial filatélica) which includes 15 iconic stamps from the Camino de Santiago Francés. This credential can be stamped in much the same way as the official Credencial in hostels, parish churches, Friends of the Way Associations ... and at the Post Office, where we have special postmarks for tourists.
- Fisterrana and Muxiana. Pilgrims who decide to extend their Camino to Fisterra or Muxia, or who simply opt for this Camino, may also obtain a pilgrimage certificate. To do this they must continue to have their Credencial stamped up until their destination, or to obtain a new one if they need more space to do so. The process is the same as with the Compostela: two daily stamps will be required as proof of passage through each stage. Certificates will be issued at the hostel in Fisterra and at the Muxia tourist office itself.
- Distance certificate. Since March 2014, the Pilgrim's Office has issued a Distance Certificate, a document which certifies the number of kilometres covered, regardless of where the pilgrimage began. This details the starting point and time, the number of kilometres covered, as well as the day on which you arrived and on which route you have completed your pilgrimage. It is somewhat larger than the Compostela, is printed on parchment paper and is decorated with a Latin phrase and a miniature from the Calixtino Codex. Pilgrims who have already completed their pilgrimage at an earlier date can also request a backdated copy at email@example.com.
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