About the Credential and the Compostela
What is the Credential?
These two documents are important to pilgrims doing any of the Camino routes. Here's what they are and why they're important.
The ‘Credential’ or ‘pilgrims passport’ is a small cardboard booklet that is necessary for all pilgrims intending to travel along one of the many pilgrim routes to Santiago de la Compostela.
The Credential entitles the holder a night’s stay in any of the albergues or refugios along the Way and is usually stamped by the hospitilero as proof that you stayed in that town or city. This is important if you intend to receive a Compostela at the end of your journey. Stamps can also be obtained at various bars, churches,hostels and tourist offices.
You can normally buy your blank Credential from the various start points along the Way and also most albergues in the major towns and cities will have them for sale. Typically a credential will cost between 1 and 2 euros. In Oporto on the Camino Portuguése, for example, the cathedral sells a credential for 1.5 euros. In Seville and Irun they will cost 2 euros and in St Jean Pied de Port they cost 2 euros.
Every overnight stay at one of the albergues qualifies the holder of a Credential a stamp which goes towards the awarding of a Compostela once they reach Santiago.
And the Compostela?
The Compostela is a certificate of achievement given to pilgrims who have either walked at least 100 kilometers of the Way or cyclists who have cycled at least 200 kilometers of the Way. When the pilgrim arrives in Santiago they will go to the Pilgrims Office which is located to the east side of the cathedral.
A pilgrim will present their Credential to the volunteers at the office and state whether the objective of their walk 'religious' or ‘other’. Their passport will then be verified and if they indicated religious as the reason for their pilgrimage a Latin blessing is written or otherwise a Spanish version written.
In 2010 270000 Compostelas were handed out. In 2011 almost 180000 Compostelas were written.