Understanding Camino Pilgrim Passports & Certificates

Camino Pilgrim passport

This article aims to clarify the difference between the Camino Pilgrim Passports and the various Pilgrim Certificates, including the famous Compostela Certificate. Camino Pilgrim Passports & Certificates

Traditional Passport and Certificate to Santiago de Compostela

Many people know why they want to walk the Camino de Santiago. It may be for spiritual growth, a health challenge, a break from daily life, or a social experience. Whatever your reason for exploring the Camino de Santiago routes, consider documenting your journey with a Camino Pilgrim Passport. Finally, you might also claim one of the Camino certificates to commemorate your experience.

Pilgrim Passport (Credencial del Peregrino)

The most well-known and essential Camino document is the Camino Pilgrim Passport (Credencial del Peregrino). This passport verifies that you have completed the necessary 100km for your Camino Compostela. These official documents testify to your journey.

Collect at least two stamps daily from churches, town halls, or other official establishments on your journey to Santiago. Once in Santiago de Compostela, you must show your stamped Camino Pilgrim Passport at the Pilgrim’s Office to apply for your Camino Compostela certificate and any other Camino pilgrim certificate you might want to receive.

Camino Pilgrim passport
Camino Pilgrim passport / Credencial

Where can I get my Pilgrim Passport?

You can obtain one before travelling from organisations such as the American Pilgrims on the Camino, Camino Society of Ireland, Australian Friends of the Camino, Confraternities of St. James, authorized Spanish associations, or various shops and churches along the route. In Santiago, collect the necessary stamps for your Compostela certificate. For more information, see the article: Where can I get my Pilgrim Credencial?

Compostela Certificate

The Compostela Certificate is a traditional religious certificate in Latin issued by the Church to pilgrims. It requires walking 100km or cycling (or horseback riding) 200km to Santiago de Compostela.

Initially, pilgrims used the scallop shell as pilgrimage proof, but fraud emerged when shells were bought and sold. In the 13th century, the Church introduced a rigorous system using letters to mark the Compostela’s origin.

Camino pilgrims certificate compostela
Camino pilgrims certificate, the famous Compostela

The Camino Compostela certificate was a valuable document as pilgrims would travel to Santiago by pilgrimage, often as a penance. By getting a certificate showing they had walked to Santiago, they could return home and show they had paid their penance and repented for their sins.

A roaring trade of forged Compostelas boomed in Santiago in the Middle Ages.

For some, walking to Santiago and getting their Compostela meant they had secured their reference letter or VIP ticket to heaven: the Compostela was considered an important paper, one to show St Peter at the gates of Heaven.

In the 16th century, the Catholic Queen, King Fernando, and Isabel created the Foundation of the Royal Hospital. They started the construction of a pilgrim’s Royal Hospital in Santiago, in the building that hosts the luxurious Hostal dos Reis Católicos Parador hotel today. By showing their Compostela, pilgrims could stay for up to three days. Today, the hotel still provides free meals for three days to 10 pilgrims with their Compostela.

How to get your Compostela Certificate in Santiago

  1. Visit the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago. For more information, Pilgrim’s Office’s official website.
  2. Go to the waiting area.
  3. Withdraw a ticket with your number.
  4. A QR code on the ticket allows you to verify the row’s status in real-time. (Note: in times of great influx, it cannot be guaranteed that you will collect the Compostela on the same day).
  5. You can stay in the waiting area until your turn, or you can leave and come back when it’s your turn (it is recommended to go back at least 50 numbers before your one to not miss your turn).

If travelling as part of an organised group, the Pilgrim’s Office also has a special service. The group leader can submit the names of the group by email a few days in advance (a special form from the Pilgrim’s Office must be filled in). Once the group has reached Santiago, the leader can bring the group’s pilgrim passports to the office and receive all the Compostelas for the group.

Camino Certificate of Distance

A Certificate of Distance is also available to pilgrims. This certificate states the starting point and distance walked/cycled by each pilgrim and is available in many different languages. This can be obtained in addition to the Compostela and is priced at €3. While the Certificate of Distance may not get you a fast track to heaven, it will serve as a lovely memento of your trip to Santiago!

Please note: To receive any Camino certificates from the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago, your finishing point must be Santiago de Compostela.

Camino certificate of distance
Camino certificate of distance

Other Pilgrim Passports/Credencials

While the Pilgrim Passport obtained during at least the last 100km of a Camino to Santiago is the most popular and well-known, it is not the only one of these Credencials. If you are walking the Via Francigena or even the Camino Finisterre, there are specific Pilgrim Passports for these journeys.

Finisterrana And Muxiana Certificates

In the same way, you can request your Compostela certificate when you finish your Camino de Santiago; you can also ask for other pilgrim certificates if you decide to continue walking or cycling to the towns of Fisterra and Muxía along the Camino Finisterre.

Each town, Fisterra and Muxía, has its pilgrim certificate, Finisterrana and Muxiana. If you are walking the Camino Finisterre in reverse, you must start from Muxia to request your Compostela certificate in Santiago.

Finisterrana Certificate
Finisterrana Certificate

Celtic Camino Certificate

The Celtic Camino refers to walking the Camino Inglés from A Coruña, which is only 75km. To qualify for the Compostela certificate, pilgrims must walk an additional 25km on an approved trail in their home country, such as in Ireland or the UK, and collect stamps in their credencial. These trails include the Kerry Camino in Ireland and St Michael’s Way in the UK. After completing these requirements, pilgrims can present their stamps at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago to receive the Celtic Camino Certificate.

Celtic Camino Certificate
Celtic Camino Certificate

Via Francigena Credenziali Passport and Testimonium

Credenziali (Via Francigena Passport)

If you are walking the Via Francigena to Rome, you will also need a Pilgrim Passport known as the Via Francigena Credenziali to request your Pilgrim Testimonium Certificate in the Vatican. This is a certificate you will receive after completing your pilgrimage to Rome.

Testimonium: Via Francigena Pilgrim Certificate

The Testimonium Certificate is awarded to pilgrims who complete the Via Francigena route to Rome. To obtain it, you must have a stamped pilgrim passport and the Credenziali and document your journey. The certificate can be collected at Saint Peter’s Basilica or the San Lorenzo Pilgrims Office in Rome. It recognises the completion of the pilgrimage for religious or cultural reasons, similar to the Compostela for the Camino de Santiago.

Testimonium: Via Francigena Pilgrim Certificate

If you need more information about the Camino Pilgrim Passports & Certificates, Camino and its routes or would like to book your own Camino de Santiago adventure, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


  1. Thanks Maria, great article!
    It will be my first camino in Dec22 , I cant wait!
    On the other hand, I am a little bit scared as I dont speak Spanish at all, do you think that would be an issue to communicate with locals? Cheers .

  2. By Sarah

    Hi John, thanks for your message and wishing you the very best for your upcoming Camino. It’s definitely a good idea to try and learn a few simple phrases if you can but nobody will expect you to be a fluent speaker. English is understood, especially in larger towns and cities as they are very used to pilgrims and visitors but having some phrases will help your interactions, especially in smaller towns and villages.
    The following may help you:
    Spanish phrases: https://caminoways.com/useful-spanish-for-the-camino

  3. By Paulina Undurraga

    I am unclear where I get the “empty” passport when I arrive in Ferrol. Does anyone know? I would appreciate the answer as I am going in April from Canada and doing this without a guide or group. Buen Camino everyone!


    Hello Paulina, At this exact moment on the 8th of February I have read your comment. I am also traveling Australia alone and landing in Paris over Easter. I am scheduled to depart St Jean Pied de Port on 13th of April. I will be catching a local bus from Paris to be at St Jean at that date. I feel that arrangements are still being scheduled and I am sure that (as promised) my accommodation will be settled during the following 2 weeks. I have travelled Europe a few times and generally with sign language/friendly people and the many people who have a splattering of English from elementary Schools; I have travelled well with their limited communications. I will be on the trail for 12 nights; and pottering to finish at Logrono. where i will bus to Bilbayo and fly back to Paris and explore for another week befor my flight back to Aus.

  5. Thank you for your advice. It was very helpful. I heard that there is a Dual Pilgrim Passport in Korea like Kumano case. Does anyone know any information about it?

  6. By Marie Qian

    Hi there, I realize that I will need to collect at least two stamps per day from churches, town halls, or other official establishments on your way to Santiago. Is it easy to find church or town hall while on Camino route? Is the sign well displayed so I will not miss it? Thanks.

  7. By Sarah

    Hi Marie, yes there are churches in most places along the Camino and they are all easy to spot

  8. By Francesca

    Hi Maria and everyone, my best friend and I will start the Camino from León at the very end of April, and plan to be on the way to Santiago for the next couple of weeks. Can you please suggest where we can find La Credencial un León? Your help would be highly appreciated. Buen Camino!

  9. By Sarah

    Hi Francesca, thanks for your message. Many shops and churches (including Convento Santa Maria de las Carbajales sell pilgrim passports) so you should have no problem finding one! Your hotel should also have a lot of insight.

  10. By Andrew York

    We are walking Coimbra to Porto in Portugal and still not sure where I get my empty passport from.

  11. By Georgina Hall

    Hi, my group is only walking the 100km route of the Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Bilbao. Is it still possible to get our pilgrim passport and have it stamped, even though we do not go to Santiago de Compastella? If so, are we able to get the empty passport in San Sebastián? Many thanks.

  12. By Sarah

    Hi Georgina, yes you can still get and stamp a pilgrim passport. You can get your passport in the cathedral in San Sebastian, along with many other places. Please see this article and the heading ‘where can I get my passport’ for more information: https://caminoways.com/camino-pilgrim-passport

  13. By Christine Torrance

    Hi…. Travelling from Australia to Porto to walk the Portuguese Coastal Way. Where can I obtain an empty Pilgrim Passport from please? Thank you so much

  14. By Sarah

    Hi Christine, thanks for your message. In Porto, you can get a Pilgrim Passport in the Cathedral.

  15. By Linda clinton

    So i am here in santiago (the end of the trail), but will begin my trek from Sarria on monday—where do i obtain a passport in order to get it stamped?

  16. By Ramin Maysami

    Hello All. I am still unclear where to obtain an empty passport to start the collection of stamps. I will start the journey with my family from Sarria.

  17. By Sarah

    Hi Ramin, you can pick up the Pilgrim’s Passport from the Pilgrim’s Office in Sarria, which is located in the Iglesia de Santa Mariña, right on the route on Rua Maior.

  18. By Sarah

    Hi Sireesha, you can get your certificates at the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago.

  19. By Laura

    If we walk from Porto to TUI and then get a bus to Santiago, can we get a Certificate or does it have to be the last 100km?

  20. By Jonathan

    Hi Laura, it doesn’t have to be the last 100km, once you’ve completed either 100km of walking or 200km of cycling then you’ll be eligible to receive your Certificate in Santiago.

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