of Saint James of South Africa
it an organised tour?
There are organized tours available, but the majority
walk the various routes without guides or back-up.
If you are with a tour group or have vehicle back-up,
you are not allowed to stay in the pilgrim refuges.
The Camino routes themselves are organised in the
sense that they are generally signposted and there
is official accommodation available in most places
on the more popular routes.
It is, however, an individual journey, so getting
to the starting point, registering and organising
an itinerary are your own responsibility.
On arrival at the starting point of your choice
on the Camino, the first requirement is to equip
yourself with a pilgrim passport (credencial del
This is obtainable from specific places in each
town and the local refugio or albergue (pilgrim
dormitory) will be able to tell you where to get
You can also research this beforehand in the official
guidebooks, depending on your route.
South African members can obtain their credencials
from the Confraternity. The current price is R50
plus R5 for postage. To become a member/obtain a
credencial contact us by email. At present membership
is only available to South Africans or residents
of South Africa.
The credencial needs to be stamped at an official
venue with a rubber stamp (sello) at each of your
stopovers, and it has to be presented in order to
qualify for accommodation in the refugios.
Stamps can also be obtained from the local mayor
(alcalde), parish priest (cura), tourist offices,
museums and even from some bars.
Some obtain the sellos as proof of walking, but
many also treasure them as 'souvenirs' of their
When you reach Santiago, the credencial becomes
your proof of having walked the Camino, and on presentation
to the cathedral authorities, they will issue the
certificate of pilgrimage (compostela).
To qualify for the compostela you have to have walked
at least the last 100km, cycled or gone on horseback
for 200km from Santiago.
It is recommended that you obtain at least two stamps
per day during this section.
While it is not compulsory to apply for the compostela,
most pilgrims appreciate the receipt as part of
the closing ritual on arrival in Santiago.
is a credential or pilgrim's passport?
walking the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims carry a
credential (credencial), a small, folded document
in which the pilgrim authenticates his or her progress
by obtaining stamps (sellos) along the way.
can be obtained from many sources including many
bars, hotels, town halls, museums and churches and
from all albergues.
credential or 'passport', as it is sometimes called,
is not to be confused with an official, government-issued
passport. The former is strictly a record of passage
along the Camino; the latter is a required document
for international travel.
registering at an albergue, you will be asked to
present your credential to verify that you are walking
or cycling the Road.
In addition, upon reaching
Santiago de Compostela, at the Oficina de Acogida
de Peregrinos (Pilgrims' Office, Rúa do Vilar 1),
you can present your stamped credential to confirm
that you have walked at least the last 100 kilometers
or cycled at least the last 200 kilometers, whereupon
you will receive a compostela, a wonderful document
that certifies your pilgrimage. See the entry immediately
below for more about the compostela.
credentials can be obtained from numerous sources
before setting out on the Camino, or from locations
actually on the Camino.
is the compostela?
most cases peregrinos will be interested in obtaining
the 'official' documentation for having completed
the Camino whether or not they are walking the Camino
for out and out religious reasons.
The words used
on the Archdiocese’s website are: "devotionis
affectu, voti vel pietatis causa" - “the motivation
being devotion, vow or piety”.
This document is
called the compostela and is a form in Latin issued
by the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos (Pilgrims'
Office, Rúa do Vilar 1) in Santiago, near the southeast
corner of the cathedral).
You can obtain your compostela
by presenting yourself, some form of official identification
(like your government-issued travel passport) and
your completed pilgrim's credential.
You must have
documentation showing that you have walked at least
the last contiguous 100 km (or cycled the last 200
the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos you will be
asked your motivation for walking.
Those who do
not include "spiritual" in their reason
for making the pilgrimage will be offered another
document, a certificado, to commemorate their having
completed the Camino.
can I get stamps (sellos) for my credential?
can be obtained at most hotels and inns, restaurants
and bars, churches, museums, city halls, police
stations and at all albergues.
If you're wondering
what the sellos look like, you might check out the
site Los Sellos del Camino (Spanish).
note about sellos: Generally one sello per day is
sufficient, but the Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago
advises that all pilgrims should obtain two per
day during the final 100 km if on foot or the last
200 km if on bicycle.
On the francés this would
be Sarria (112 km) or Ponferrada (205 km) respectively.
Please note that this applies even to pilgrims who
have started outside the 100 and 200 km limits.
your pilgrimage: some practical tips
of St James
about my pilgrim passport ?
Click here for more information about the pilgrim
passport itself: http://www.csj.org.uk/passport.htm
Remember that the Confraternity issues passports
only to members. If you want a CSJ passport,
please apply first for membership, wait to receive
your Membership Number (2-3 weeks) and then apply
separately for your pilgrim record at another address
which will be sent to you. We try to deal with requests
promptly, but help us to help you by giving us some
Remember if you live in the USA, Canada, Norway,
or Ireland you can obtain pilgrim records from your
home organisations. http://www.csj.org.uk/other-websites.htm
For more general advice on getting a credencial,
click here: http://www.csj.org.uk/how-to-get-a-credencial.htm
Frequently Asked Questions
of St James
is the Pilgrim Record or credencial?
Pilgrim Record (credencial in Spanish) is a certificate
of bona fide pilgrim status, and is required
for access to the refugios along all the routes
in Spain. It is stamped at the beginning,
and daily at churches, refugios, town halls (Ayuntamiento),bars
etc along the way.
Pilgrims present the completed card at the Pilgrim
Office in Santiago, fill in a questionnaire
about why they have made the pilgrimage and may
then qualify for a Compostela
Confraternity issues Pilgrim Records free to members
- but NOT to non-members. To find
out more, go to our How and where to get a credencial
records/credenciales are made available only to
walkers, cyclists, and pilgrims on horseback
who are travelling without vehicular backup.
More about the Pilgrim Record: http://www.csj.org.uk/passport.htm
and about the Compostela:
W. Tripp, Jr. 2011
There are two key documents that all pilgrims need
to be concerned with. One is the Pilgrim’s Passport,
which certifies and documents your pilgrimage. The
other is the Compostela, received in Santiago to
indicate completion of the pilgrimage.
The Credencial del Peregrino (Pilgrim Credential),
commonly referred to as the Pilgrim’s Passport,
can be obtained in several ways. One is to obtain
a letter of recommendation in your home parish,
bishopric, etc. certifying that you leave as a pilgrim.
You can also obtain one in a church, certain albergues
or some other location such as a local office of
the Friends of the Camino, in the starting point
of the pilgrimage. If you are uncertain go to the
Gronce web site. Look at the albergues for the route
and place you wish to start. Under Basic Datos,
there is an item, Expide la credencial. If it indicates
Si, you can get one there. There is usually a small
fee, about 3€, for obtaining one. This certifies
that the bearer is traveling as a pilgrim. It permits
the bearer to use facilities reserved for pilgrims.
When it is initially prepared, it states whether
the pilgrim is traveling “a pie” by foot, “a caballo”
by horse, or “en bicicleta” by bicycle.
Once the pilgrimage commences, it is necessary once
a day (more or less) to have the Pilgrim’s Passport
sealed (stamped, signed and dated) at one of the
parishes, albergues or other establishments en-route.
This is easily done and is usually part of the check-in
procedure at an albergue.
Some people become so enamored with the seals that
they go out of their way to have them stamped at
churches, monasteries, etc. throughout the day and
even run out of room, requiring an additional credential
to include them all!
The “Compostela” is the certificate awarded to those
who can prove that they have covered the requisite
number of kilometers of the pilgrims way. They are
issued by the Oficina de Acogida del Peregrino attached
to Santiago cathedral at Rúa do Vilar 1, 1º in Santiago
de Compostela. Its hours are 10:00-14:00 and 16:30-19:00
(10-2 and 4:30 to 7). To qualify for the Compostela,
a pilgrim must complete at least the last 100 kilometers
to Santiago if traveling by foot or horse or 200
km if traveling by bicycle. Below is an example
of the Compostela.
à Q.Pratique Départ