For pilgrims planning to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, a “passport” has two different meanings. Firstly, is the official government passport that allows you to travel internationally and enter Spain. And secondly is the special pilgrim’s passport that is carried along the Camino and stamped at various locations. This latter is also known as a “credencial del peregrino” and is integral to the pilgrim experience.
In the early days of the Camino, showing the ancient version of the pilgrim’s passport could help guarantee safe passage on what was often a treacherous journey. Though that is no longer necessary for modern pilgrims, it still serves an important purpose.
For example, a stamped credential is necessary to obtain the Compostela – or certificate of completion. The stamps on the credential show a pilgrim has walked (or ridden) the required distance. One stamp per day is enough for the early stages of a longer Camino, though two stamps per day are necessary for the last 100km (200km if cycling).
These stamps (sellos in Spanish) are obtained at albergues (hostels), bars/restaurants, tourist offices, churches, even some roadside stands. Much like official passport stamps from other countries, each Camino stamp is unique to its location. It is always fun after the Camino to look over the stamped credential and reminisce about all the places you stayed or visited.
In addition, along the way, the credential also serves as poof of identity as a pilgrim. Some albergues are for pilgrims only – and not just tourists looking for a cheap holiday. Likewise, museums, churches, or tourist attractions may offer discounts or free entrance to pilgrims showing their credential.
To obtain a credential, you may do so prior to your Camino, or at various locations throughout Spain. Many tourist buros and some churches at the main starting points have them available. The easiest way for Americans to secure their credential prior to departure is through the American Pilgrims on the Camino - https://americanpilgrims.org/request-a-credential/.
For pilgrims traveling on a Tekton Camino pilgrimage, we request the credentials for you. They are included in your pilgrim packet mailed out prior to departure.