03 Aug 20

Pilgrim passports & compostelas on the Camino

Mel Reynolds Camino

A pilgrim passport is part of your Camino experience. While it is not strictly necessary to have one if you are not staying in Albergues they are are still a great memento of your trip and will entitle you to your Compostela certificate once you reach Santiago.

The Camino passport is an official Camino document and will be issued to you with your Camino pre-departure pack if you have planned a trip with RAW Travel. They can also be purchased for a few euros at one of the pilgrims offices on the Camino or from the Australian friends of the Camino.

The pilgrim’s passport itself is a folded piece of card with space for 54 stamps. You will need to write your name clearly on the inside page before you travel.

Why a passport?

The passport is used to verify the distance you have walked or cycled, regardless of your route and is proof that you are a ‘real’ pilgrim and are not travelling by car or public transport along the Camino. It is also your passport to staying in the Albergues if you choose to. The passport is a wonderful memento of your pilgrimage and is used to determine monthly statistics on the Camino such as how many pilgrims are walking into Santiago each year.

Camino credential

The pilgrim’s passport has space for 54 stamps.

How many stamps do I need each day?

If you are walking (or travelling by horse!) you will need to obtain 2 stamps or ‘sellos’ per day for the final 100km of walking. This is part of the reason for the popularity of the Sarria to Santiago section, which is just over that distance. If you are cycling, you will need to obtain 2 stamps per day for the final 200km of your journey – or from just near Ponferrada on the traditional Camino.

Is is a good idea to keep your pilgrim’s passport with your regular passport so that when you are checking into your accommodation you can request a stamp. Stamps are also available at religious sites, hotels, town halls, museums, city halls, police stations and Albergues.

When will I receive my Compostela certificate?

Once you arrive into Santiago, take your passport to the Pilgrim’s Office and they will verify the final 100km of stamps in your passport and issue you with your official Compostela certificate. The pilgrim’s office is usually open from 8am–9pm and is a great place to catch up with people you have met along the way. You will be asked some questions about where you started, and your motivation for your time on the Camino. You can also purchase a Certificate of Distance for your exact distance walked on the Camino, and a tube to protect your well-deserved Compostela.

camino pilgrim office map

The pilgrim’s office is a great place to catch up with people you have met along the way.

What’s the history of the Compostela?

Historically, pilgrims displayed a scallop shell to prove their pilgrimage but this became more of a commercial practice with many people buying and selling shells en route. Since the 13th century, the ‘Compostela’ became a valuable document to prove one’s pilgrimage and often demonstrate a penance.

camino group compostela

The Compostela certificate is still written in Latin, and confirms the completion of your pilgrimage.

By receiving a certificate showing they had walked to Santiago they could get back home and show they had paid their penance, ie repented for their sins.  The Compostela also meant pilgrims could stay in the Royal Hospital in Santiago for up to 3 days (now the Parador).

camino compostela stamps

If you have passed through the pilgrim’s office in the last 24 hours your name will be read out at the
1200 pilgrims mass in the Santiago Cathedral!

Where else can I purchase a pilgrim’s passport?

  • JEAN DE PIED PORT – Office de Peregrino
  • RONCESVALLES – Office del Peregrino
  • JACA – Iglesia de Santiago
  • LARRASOANA – Albergue Municipal de Peregrinos (D. Santiago Zubiri)
  • PAMPLONA – Albergue de peregrines
  • PUENTE LA REINA – Albergue de peregrinos
  • ESTELLA – Albergue de peregrinos
  • LOGRONO – Albergue Municipal de peregrinos
  • SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA – Albergue de peregrinos de la Cofradia del Santo
  • BURGOS – Albergue de peregrinos (Asociacion de amigos del Camino de Burgos)
  • FROMISTA – Oficina del peregrino (Monasterio de San Zoilo)
  • LEON – Albergue de peregrinos
  • ASTORGA – Albergue de peregrinos
  • MOLINASECA – Albergue de peregrinos (Alfredo)
  • PONFERRADA – Albergue de peregrinos
  • VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO – Albergue de peregrinos Ave Fanix (Jato)
  • O’CEBREIRO – Albergue de peregrinos
  • SAMOS – Albergue del Monasterio
  • SARRIA – Albergue de peregrinos
  • PORTOMARIN – Albergue de peregrinos
Mel Reynolds

Written By

Mel Reynolds

Mel is the Sales Manager and Co-Owner of RAW Travel. She has spent a lifetime hiking many of the world's best trails. Mel believes the best way to understand the world is to explore it on foot. Many of her fondest memories are food related! She always has a great story to tell and loves creating memorable experiences for RAW clients.

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