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The Credential of the Camino de Santiago, successor to the original document given to the pilgrims during the Middle Ages and that was used as a pass, is a document given to walkers to certify them as a pilgrim and serves to record their passage through distinct locations along any of the pilgrimage routes. This is done through the use of stamps collected by the walkers in the pilgrim hostels, councils, parishes and even shops and bars, and, upon reaching Santiago, serve as evidence to obtain the Compostela, the official text to certifies that walkers have completed the Way and, is applicable to those who have covered at least, the last 100 kilometres on foot or on horseback or, if by bike the last 200km, for spiritual reasons.
In the Pilgrim’s Office -the place where the Compostela is collected on reaching Santiago-, walkers are required to have collected at least one stamp per day, two on the Galician stretch of the Camino if done on foot (the last 100 kilometers) or over the last 200 km if done by bike.To receive the Compostela it is not necessary to have completed the Way over a continuous period of time, although geographically continuation is mandatory. That is, the pilgrims can complete a stage of the itinerary and then, later, resume the route and continue sealing Credential of the Camino of Santiago at the point where they last left it. It is not valid, however, to miss out a stretch of route and continue sealing in a different location.
There is an official form of acquiring the credential and accepted by the Office of Pilgrimages of the Diocese of Santiago. Pilgrims can request in this office (located close to the Cathedral of Santiago, in the Rua do Vilar 1/3) or in other institutions authorized by the cathedral of Santiago for distribution, such as parishes, Associations of Friends of the Camino of Santiago, pilgrim shelters, fraternities, etc.
If at the time of starting the pilgrimage the walker don’t have the credential, they can normally acquire one at their first hostel or at tourist office at the beginning of their pilgrimage route. The price of the Credential for the Camino of Santiago ranges between 2 or 2.50 euros.
Outside of Spain, several associations related to the pilgrimage have been authorized to distribute their own credentials. You can check the list here for Canada.
The credential has two practical purposes
It allows for accommodation in hostels and functions as accreditation to request Compostela on arriving to Santiago. It also allows the walkers to benefit from pilgrim menus offered in many restaurants on different pilgrimage routes, especially on the French way and hikers can take advantage of discounts that various other accommodation establishments reserve specifically for those who have the credential.
Those pilgrims who choose to continue the route to Finisterre or Muxia and, who still have free space in their credential can continue collecting stamps in this document. However, those who have already completed their credential and want to obtain another one to continue way to one of these two coastal towns (both in Finisterre and Muxia the council issues a document to certify that they have completed these Caminos) should buy another special credential in the tourist office of Santiago, not in the pilgrim office.
Keep reading… Why do people walk to Finisterre and Muxia?