The Camino Pilgrim Passport, also known as the ‘Credencial’, is the modern-day version of the ‘documents of safe conduct’ given to medieval pilgrims and is an essential part of your Camino de Santiago experience.
The Pilgrim Passport acts as proof that you have walked at least the last 100km of a route into Santiago, which is necessary if you are hoping to obtain your Compostela certificate, the official testament of your journey.
What is the Pilgrim Passport?
The Pilgrim Passport is something you will take with you as you walk along the Camino de Santiago. The Pilgrim Passport has panels with boxes where you can collect the different stamps along the way. These are usually collected by pilgrims in the place where they sleep such as an Albergue or hotel but they can also be obtained in churches, town halls and many other places along the routes to Santiago.
Correos, the Spanish postal service, has special Camino stamps available to pilgrims in many post offices along the Camino de Santiago, including the post office in Rua do Franco, Santiago de Compostela.
Essentially, the Pilgrim Passport is proof that you have walked at least 100km (or cycled at least 200km) of your chosen Camino route and will enable you to get the Compostela Certificate at the end of your journey. It is also a great souvenir of your time on the Camino and you can fill out a passport even if you aren’t planning to walk 100km. Once you reach Santiago de Compostela, you will bring the Pilgrim Passport to the Pilgrim’s Office with you.
Where can I get my Pilgrim Passport?
It’s important that you have your Pilgrim Passport with you once you start your journey. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to get your hands on one of these documents. You can get your Pilgrim Passport from the following places:
- From the Confraternities of St. James
- From authorized Associations in Spain
- From authorized Associations worldwide
- From the Camino Society of Ireland
- From shops, churches and many establishments at the start of your route
It’s important to note that if you are starting your Camino in Galicia, you will need to collect at least two stamps per day on your way to Santiago (at least for the last 100km). If you are starting your Camino from outside of Galicia, you will only need one stamp per day.
Once in Santiago de Compostela, you must show your stamped Pilgrim Passport at the Pilgrim’s Office in order to apply for your Compostela certificate and any other pilgrim certificate you might want to receive. You must also keep space for the final stamp of the Cathedral on arrival in Santiago.
The Pilgrim Passport issued by the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the Confraternities of St. James around the world also includes simple guidelines about the best ways to use the Pilgrim Passport:
- This Credencial is intended for those pilgrims who’d like to walk, go on horseback, cycle or travel by boat and then complete the last few km on foot and take the pilgrimage to Santiago.
- The Credencial has two practical purposes: admission to hostels offering Christian hospitality along the way; and to obtain the Compostela from the Cathedral in Santiago which certifies the pilgrimage has been completed.
- The Compostela is issued to those who have made the pilgrimage with a Christian motivation: devotonis affectul vel voti pietatis causa – motivated by devotion, a vow or piety.
- The Compostela is also issued to those who arrive at the Tomb of the Apostle having travelled the last 100km on foot or on horseback; the last 200km by bike or 100 nautical miles by boat and finishing the last few km on foot.
- Organised groups with a support vehicle or on bicycles are asked to find alternative accommodation from pilgrim hostels, Albergues.
- The bearer of the Credencial accepts these conditions.
A Blessing for your Journey
You will find a pilgrim blessing printed on the back of the Credencial:
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive this rucksack, the habit of your pilgrimage, so that, having atoned, you hasten to prostrate yourself at Saint James’ feet, where you yearn to arrive and, after having completed your journey, you come to us joyful with the help of God, who rules over the world without end. Amen.
Receive this staff as support for the journey and your efforts during your pilgrimage so that you are able to overcome the hoards of enemies and thus arrive safely at Saint James’ feet and, after having completed your journey, you come to us joyful with the assent of the same God, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
(Codex Calixtinus Sermón “Veneranda dies” Li, 17 Century)
You will also find a pilgrim’s prayer on the map in the Credencial:
St James, Apostle, chosen among the first, you were the first to drink the cup of the Master and you are the great protector of pilgrims. Make us strong in faith and happy in hope on our pilgrim journey, following the path of Christian life, and sustain us so that we may finally reach the glory of God the Father. Amen