How to get your Compostela when you reach Santiago


The Compostela is a sort of certificate of achievement and is awarded at the end of a Camino journey of 100km or more distance; issued to anyone making the pilgrimage on foot, by bicycle or on horseback and who produces their credencial (pilgrim passport) for inspection of proof of journey walked.

Important to note here is that many local Spanish pilgrims (I like to call them the 100km crew) only walk the last 100km or so and in doing so are able to collect the same Compostela as someone who say walked the full 800km from St. Jean Pied de Port. These pilgrims need to make sure that they receive 2 stamps in their pilgrim passport for each day of their walk to qualify to receive their Compostela and from this year – to further protect the integrity of the walk I was informed – they must have had their stamps given either by a Municipal albergue or directly from a church (not simply stamped at any cafe or restaurant as was the previous system).
Pilgrims who walk further than the last 100km of the Camino (for example from St. Jean Pied de Port) do not need to collect 2 stamps daily in their pilgrim passport along the last 100km of the Camino.

In Santiago de Compostela the Compostela is awarded in the Oficina do Peregrino at Rua do Vilar 3, which is located about 5 minute’s walk from the cathedral in the heart of Santiago’s old city quarter:

Receiving-your-Compostela-in-Santiago

(click on any photo to enlarge)

The office opens daily from 8am to 9pm, with the front doors being closed at 8:30pm to attend to pilgrims who are still inside the building queued up.

Volunteers (Amigos) assist with the process of managing the often heavy numbers of pilgrims waiting their turn in line and they can be recognised immediately by the blue t-shirt which they wear:

Compostela Amigos

Volunteer at credencial office santiago de compostela

The Amigos project is supported by the associations:
American Pilgrims on the Camino, Canadian Company of Pilgrims, Confraternity of St James in the UK, Nederlands Genootschap van Sint Jacob, and Irish Society of the Friends of St. James.

As you make your way through the entrance of Rua do Vilar 3 (slowly or quickly; depending on the time of day) you will see notices reminding you to have your pilgrim passport ready and also a sign which lets pilgrims know that the Compostela is personal and that you cannot obtain a Compostela for someone else who is not present. Seems obvious but they must have had a reason for putting the sign up.

There is also an informative message board just past the entrance:

Pilgrim message board

The best time to visit to get your credencial is first thing in the morning when the queue of pilgrims isn’t anywhere as long as later in the day when some unfortunate pilgrims have to wait hours.

When you finally reach first in line of the queue you will need to decide which type of Compostela you want to receive. The standard one is free but you can also pay 3 Euros to have written the amount of kilometres walked and the date which you started and finished:

3 Euro Compostela

Also, you will be asked the reason(s) why you walked your Camino; spiritual, for sport, or both.
As I understand it in the past if you stated spiritual then you would receive two certificates and if you stated sport then you would just get the one.
The rules must have changed because I stated spiritual and sport and received the standard one certificate, deciding also not to pay the 3 Euros for the premium compostela with km and date of start and finish recorded for prosperity:

My Compostela

Please note that a very special Compostela is being issued this year by the monks at the San Francisco church (located 5 minute’s walk from the cathedral at the end of Rua de San francisco) and this certificate is only issued every 100 years; 2014 being the current centenary year.
The next time this Compostela will be issued will be in 2114.

I also decided to get this one as I might be busy doing other things in 2114:

San Francisco centenary compostela

If you have any questions about getting your Compostela or if you wish to add information, then please feel free to leave a comment or question in the Reply box below.

Neville David Thomas

Categories: Camino ArticlesTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 comments

  1. I know that the Compostela is personal, but would it be possible to use a Credencial in my late daughter’s name, so that I can say that she was with me all along the way. I am male (her father) and her name was Helen. I hope to do the Camino Finisterre next month.

    • Dear Eugene.
      Thank you very much for your message.
      I’m very sorry for your loss.
      I can’t write with certainty, but I’m sure that if you explain to the issuer of your Credencial then they will understand and agree to your request.
      Sending over a virtual hug to you.
      Take care and Buen Camino.
      Nev.

      • Thanks a million for your reply. I got a Credencial for Helen here in Ireland and should have no problem getting sellos along the way. A cancer survivor here in Ireland got a Credencial in her late mother’s name (Her mother had died of cancer). She then did the Camino from Sarria and collected her mother’s Compostela on reaching Santiago. It was probably easy for her to do that; being a woman.
        However, my worry is that, being a man and handing in my Credencial under the name Helen; that I might be refused her Compostela. (I might also get some very funny looks! 🙂

        P.S. I cycled the Camino Frances from Logroño a couple of years ago. Last year, I walked the Camino Portuguese and a couple of months later, I walked to Muxia and Cape Finisterre.

        • Hi Eugene.

          Everyone does the camino for very different reasons, and my impression of the staff who issue the Compostelas is that they are very much aware of this. I can’t write with certainty, but I would be very surprised if they didn’t provide the Compostela in your daughter’s name.

          Kudos to you for having completed the Camino Portuguese, Muxia/Finisterre, and having cycled from Logrono on the Camino Frances!

          I had planned to walk the Rome to Santiago route this year, but for medical reasons have had to postpone it for the time being.

          If you can then it would be great if you could let me know how it does all pan out, so anyone else out there in a similar situation will have the benefit of your experience.

          Please also feel free to fire away if you have any further questions. I’m happy to help out in any way that I can.

          Nev 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: