How it Works:

Documenting Your Camino

This page covers what you need to know about documenting your Camino journey. You will want to know about two important pilgrim items:

The Compostela
The Credencial

Photo of six different Credenciales, or pilgrim passports, from the Camino de Santiago in Spain and France

Photo of the Compostela given in pilgrims who complete the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, from 2016

The Compostela

The Compostela is the certificate issued by the Catholic Church that acknowledges that a pilgrim has completed the Church’s requirement for making the pilgrimage to Santiago. Specifically, to qualify to receive the Compostela, a pilgrim must walk at least the last 100 kilometers into Santiago, or cycle at least the last 200 kilometers into Santiago.

The 100 kilometers can be on any of the several Camino routes, but they must be the last 100 kilometers of the route that bring a pilgrim to the Cathedral in Santiago.

The other requirement to receive the Compostela is that when asked the purpose of one’s pilgrimage, the answer must be for religious or spiritual reasons. Someone completing the journey for cultural or recreational reasons will receive a different certificate which acknowledges their journey, just not as a pilgrimage.

In order to receive the Compostela, the pilgrim presents the Credencial, or Pilgrim’s Passport, to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago. There is no cost for the Compostela, although donations are gladly accepted. You can get a document tube to protect your Compostela for €1, available at the Pilgrim’s Office and shops in the area.

The Credencial

Pronounced cray-den-see-AL

The Credencial (in English, the Credential) is also known as the ‘Pilgrim’s Passport’, and it serves the dual purpose of documenting the pilgrim’s journey, and granting access to the pilgrim hostels, or albergues, along each of the Camino routes.



Photo of two pilgrim passports, or Credenciales, from the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain

Some Tips for Getting Your Credencial

Tip #1

If you order your Credencial from the American Pilgrims on the Camino, it will come with your name pre-printed on the inside! (Possibly the case with other associations, too; I just don’t have any personal knowledge of that.)

tip #2

Be sure to allow enough time between ordering your Credencial and your departure date. Six weeks is a safe bet.

Tip #3

If your county’s association offers the Credencial for free, consider making a donation to contribute to the extensive work they do to support pilgrims and the infrastructure of the Camino.

Tip #4

As soon as you get your Credencial, the next step is to write in it your name, starting place and date, and your email address and/or phone number. With this information, if your Credencial is lost or left behind, the kind person who finds it will be able to return it to you. Heartbreak, prevented.

Pilgrim Associations

Here are the links for the Pilgrim Associations for the English-speaking countries:

England / Scotland

Ready to learn more about the Camino? Click here to return to About the Camino.