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Lines for the Compostela and Certificate for Distance

morrisjo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino portuguese
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
 
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CF Spring 2022
CP Spring 2024
As @Tincatinker said, filling out your application in advance is a good idea - but I don't think you necessarily have to wake up early and get to the office when it opens to expedite the process, though it couldn't hurt.

I arrived in Santiago on a very crowded Sunday last month and went straight to the Pilgrim Office around 2 PM. Via the QR code posted at the entrance I filled out my application online and received a number for the queue, which a very helpful attendant told me would be called in about an hour. I went back to the plaza for a bit, came back to the office an hour later, waited in line for about ten minutes, and walked out with my Compostela + distance certificate about ten minutes after that.

All told, it took less than 90 minutes between getting to the office and holding my Compostela in my hand - and most of that was spent waiting very pleasantly offsite (though the small courtyard behind the Pilgrim Office felt like a quite festive place to spend some time as well).

Either way, you should have absolutely no problem getting your Compostela & c. before you leave Santiago the next day.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela.
Things that we "hear" can be very enduring! I have also heard about long lines, but mostly in the earlier days of this pilgrim season, when the new systems and volunteers were still getting organized, or perhaps during the surge of Semana Santa. I was in Santiago for several days in early June and never saw a "long" line. I got my compostela in mid-afternoon one Friday - it took perhaps an hour in total, and as others have said, it was a very pleasant wait seated in the courtyard.

It is good to register online, in advance, but that doesn't save more than the few minutes it would take to do it on the spot.

So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one?
There is not much to say - that is what you are faced with. I would expect that if you miss out on the first afternoon, you will be fine for the next morning. In the latter case, ask someone at the Pilgrim Office what time you should get there in the morning. They should have a better idea of the variables on that day, than we would here and now.
 
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Ivan_Prada

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés-(septiembre 2018)
Portugués-(en planes)??
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
Hi, @morrisjo:

Hope this helps you to obtain both the Compostela and distance certificate.

As @Tincatinker mentioned, is good to pre-register, so this is the link for that purpose: https://catedral.df-server.info/agencias/Banderas.aspx?ind=1

Have Buen Camino.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
it took perhaps an hour in total, and as others have said, it was a very pleasant wait seated in the courtyard.
But isn't it true that you were not required to wait at the Pilgrims Office since you had received a number and could monitor your place in the virtual queue online?
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I mentioned that to point out with the ticket system that was instituted in 2019 there there is no "line" that one must stand in for hours as was the case previously.
True, but when I was there at the end of May, there was still a queue to get a ticket. It didn't take too long, and then one could wait in the garden or leave and monitor your position in the next queue online.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!

The prior advice is all good and what you need to factor in is that August is always the busiest month for issuing Compostelas, 30% busier than a typical June and 20% higher than a typical July and so recent experience may not be a good guage.

If possible,try to give yourself more time in Santiago de Compostela as it is a great city but I understand that getting extra holiday time can be a real issue for many working people from the USA.
 

dbier

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
Having lived through the long lines on 24 Jul 2021, I can say that pre-registration through the QR code would have helped a lot. Unfortunately for us ( though it worked out in the end), we didn't know that.

My advice? If you want the Compostela/ certificate, don't spend time touring after your arrival, but pre-register and go straight to the office.
Why do I say this?
Here's what happened that afternoon. I'm told it's much smoother now.

1. We got into a long queue outside to enter the Pilgrims Office. It was so crowded that they would and did frequently stop the line and close the door. Not that we knew why, or when or if it would reopen. And did I mention masks and attempts to distance?

I was given to understand that at some point, they shut down step 2 below for the day, as they could tell that they'd already reached their limit of how many they could process.

2. Once we registered with the first QR code, we queued up a second time to enter the Office, walk downstairs through the courtyard and into a large back room, with terminals and overhead displays. We queued a third time in this room to process at a desk, and then got a number telling us when we were to get a Compostela. If memory serves, I was 1472, and my husband 1473. I've been told that the official count for that day was 2062.

3. At that time ( around 1330?), they were serving # 400 or so. We went away, had lunch, walked around a bit, checked our phones obsessively to see how fast they were processing, and then went back, entered the office one more time, waited in the courtyard until our group of 25 was called, then lined up on the footprints to get to the volunteer processing the papers.

You probably won't have that intense an experience....but I saw people who'd Cchosen to tour first, or go to Mass first, and realize to their frustration that they couldn't get a certificate before their plane/ train/ bus left.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
When commenting on the current process of getting a Compostela at the Santiago Pilgrims Office there is always a danger of making the process sound more complicated than what it is: an apparently smooth process that has significantly reduced the long waiting lines that occurred in earlier years (before September 2019 or so). Last summer (2021) may have been an exception due to Covid restrictions which allowed only a limited number of people to be inside the building at any given time. From all I've read, these restrictions are no longer in place in the summer of 2022.

You have been advised to go to the office as soon as you arrive in Santiago in the afternoon to obtain your ticket with your number for being served. If they no longer issue tickets for the day of your arrival because they've reached their limit for the day, you are advised to go to the office early next morning. It appears that they start serving pilgrims at 9 am. Has someone been there recently and can say whether there is a "long" line of pilgrims before opening time who wait for the doors to open so that they can get their tickets?

Below is the link to their counter: it shows which number is currently being served. At the time of writing this post it is 10 am in Santiago and one can see that they are currently serving the pilgrim with ticket number 121, i.e. about 120 Compostelas have been issued during the first hour of business today. Try to be among the first 100 pilgrims who arrive at the office first thing in the morning and you can be sure to obtain your Compostela before you have to leave Santiago.

You can check the counter at any time:
Edited to add two and a half hours later: at the time of writing this postscript, it is 11:30 am in Santiago and the counter stands at 322. Meaning: this Friday morning a good 300 pilgrims had arrived at the office, got their ticket number and received their Compostela between 9 am and 11:30 am.
 
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How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I have yet to try this system, but the link appears to be for Groups?
View attachment 130228
It has been discussed in earlier threads: the various foreign language versions (English, French, German, and so on) of this online application form are a badly made interface with an atrocious translation, actually more of a non-translation than a translation. Ignore what does not make sense in English, or better yet, if you can, choose the Spanish language version where it says "Alta individual" instead of "Create a group" (which is plain wrong!!!), meaning that the link and its online form are indeed for the application by an individual pilgrim.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015, 2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
It has been discussed in earlier threads: the various foreign language versions (English, French, German, and so on) of this online application form are a badly made interface with an atrocious translation, actually more of a non-translation than a translation. Ignore what does not make sense in English, or better yet, if you can, choose the Spanish language version where it says "Alta individual" instead of "Create a group" (which is plain wrong!!!), meaning that the link and its online form are indeed for the application by an individual pilgrim.

Ahh. OK. Got it. Thanks. :)
 

m0mkat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances- July 2022
I arrived in Santiago on 7/24, Sunday the day before the feast day. there were thousands that walked in on this day. At noon I followed all the advice on this forum, had my QR code in hand, received my number #433, and it took me 20 minutes to leave with my certificate in hand. If you have the QR code in hand it is a very quick and simple process.
 

tanjis

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Caminho Portugues from Porto (2009, 2019)
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
Holy Door entry
I walked the Portuguese camino 13 years ago and received my compostela. I'm too old to walk the required distance now, but does anyone know if you can enter through the Holy Door this year with a compostela from earlier years?
 
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Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
Personally, I would avoid the stress and skip ahead somewhere or at multiple places in order to arrive in Santiago a day earlier. Santiago is the destination for goodness's sake. Why scurry through there and miss so much of what many people travel so far to see and savor?
 

JoanL

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
We got ours about 10 days ago and it definitely helped to register online. There was no wait at the moment we arrived, but this was a Monday. I believe that Sunday’s are busier. There was something very gratifying in being there sweaty and with gear and getting them right away. You get both the Compostela and Distace Certificate at the same counter. The Distance Certificate costs €3 and a nice tube to put them in costs €5. The Compostela is free.
 

dbier

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
Holy Door entry
I walked the Portuguese camino 13 years ago and received my compostela. I'm too old to walk the required distance now, but does anyone know if you can enter through the Holy Door this year with a compostela from earlier years?
Umm...if Santiago is like other Catholic cathedrals, the Holy Door is "open" during the Holy Year, and you don't have to show a Compostela to enter.
 
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Annetom

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2020
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
At Milladoro (sp?) there is a place where you can get a 'Q' code and then when you arrive in Santiago you go and show that at the Office and then take your 'Q' slot in the queue.
 

JoanL

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
At Milladoro (sp?) there is a place where you can get a 'Q' code and then when you arrive in Santiago you go and show that at the Office and then take your 'Q' slot in the queue.
You can fill out a form online on the pilgrim office website. That gets you a code, then go to the queue and show them. They will give you a number. It is a bit faster than stating the process at the office.
 

pagespan

New Member
I was in Pilgrim Office yesterday. You show them your code (you register online in advance). When they let you enter you take a ticket from machine. You then wait next to screen for your number. It took only 15 minutes wait then bingo!
I was there a week ago. I did not pre register online. I waited about 15 minutes outside in the hot Sun and then about 10 inside and got my Compostela. You can fill out the paperwork with a pen.

My biggest issue was the poor attitude of security guards and volunteers. My experience was similar to a bad day at the TSA. Once you go through all the lines and the yelling and you’re burned in the sun, you discover that there’s an empty courtyard with chairs and shade, a cheap locker area for your backpack, and clean bathrooms. Why not start there? I recommend you ask the guards to let you in to use all those services before attempting the lines. Oh, and no mask no Compostela.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
My biggest issue was the poor attitude of security guards and volunteers. My experience was similar to a bad day at the TSA. Once you go through all the lines and the yelling and you’re burned in the sun, you discover that there’s an empty courtyard with chairs and shade, a cheap locker area for your backpack, and clean bathrooms. Why not start there? I recommend you ask the guards to let you in to use all those services before attempting the lines. Oh, and no mask no Compostela.

I imagine that they are tired! Did you see Ivar's thread? 3569 Compostelas were issued today!
 
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JoanL

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
I imagine that they are tired! Did you see Ivar's thread? 3569 Compostelas were issued today!
For my friend and I the actual volunteers were lovely. But for some reason the person at the counter told her to go to ‘the other side’ (her ticket was for his counter) with no explanation of why or where. So she left to find me, we tried to figure it out and went back in. Only to get yelled at by a manager for being late for her counter. It took me pushing back in Spanish to get her to a counter with a lovely volunteer. Without me, my friend’s Camino would have ended on that note. It was a Monday and not crowded, but yes, she was clearly stressed.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
As @Tincatinker said, filling out your application in advance is a good idea - but I don't think you necessarily have to wake up early and get to the office when it opens to expedite the process, though it couldn't hurt.

I arrived in Santiago on a very crowded Sunday last month and went straight to the Pilgrim Office around 2 PM. Via the QR code posted at the entrance I filled out my application online and received a number for the queue, which a very helpful attendant told me would be called in about an hour. I went back to the plaza for a bit, came back to the office an hour later, waited in line for about ten minutes, and walked out with my Compostela + distance certificate about ten minutes after that. All told, it took less than 90 minutes between getting to the office and holding my Compostela in my hand - and most of that was spent waiting very pleasantly offsite (though the small courtyard behind the Pilgrim Office felt like a quite festive place to spend some time as well).

Either way, you should have absolutely no problem getting your Compostela & c. before you leave Santiago the next day.
That's how I did it and no problem. Got my Compostela that day.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
From Braga to Santiago
I was there a week ago. I did not pre register online. I waited about 15 minutes outside in the hot Sun and then about 10 inside and got my Compostela. You can fill out the paperwork with a pen.

My biggest issue was the poor attitude of security guards and volunteers. My experience was similar to a bad day at the TSA. Once you go through all the lines and the yelling and you’re burned in the sun, you discover that there’s an empty courtyard with chairs and shade, a cheap locker area for your backpack, and clean bathrooms. Why not start there? I recommend you ask the guards to let you in to use all those services before attempting the lines. Oh, and no mask no Compostela.
Agreed you can do it the paper way but it's easier the digital way for vast majority.

Yes I agree that they have a beautiful waiting area below that's probably underused. However, my experience with the Security Guards is they don't let anyone inside without showing code or form. I've seen two queues form so why can't they give pilgrims direct access to waiting area rather than let us in peak times form large queues outside?
 
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WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
I was in Pilgrim Office yesterday. You show them your code (you register online in advance). When they let you enter you take a ticket from machine. You then wait next to screen for your number. It took only 15 minutes wait then bingo!
NO judgment on anyone else, but for me, a final sello that I got by going to a different office was sufficient. No lines for that even before the electronic system.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Time of past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
My biggest issue was the poor attitude of security guards and volunteers
Your biggest issue , I worked there as a volunteer to and the problems are with some Pilgrims who yell , calling your names and say to one off the Sisters that she discriminates . And some times the cards cal the police.
So my question is , who is the one with issues??
 
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murraydv

Via de la Plata / Portuguese / Ingles / Levante
Time of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Ingles, Levante
Hi everyone,
I've only recently joined this group and have to say that I'm benefitting greatly from everyone's advice. We're leaving in 1 week for our trek up the Portuguese route. Here's my question...I've heard that there are long lines to get the Compostela. Since we're likely to be arriving in Santiago in the late afternoon, will we have an issue getting our certificate that day? How early would we need to get in line the next morning? My concern is that we need to leave Santiago by noon the day after we arrive in Santiago. So either we need to get the certificate the afternoon that we arrive or hope to get it the following morning. Any advice on this one? Thanks!!
Hi
I completed the Portuguese Camino two weeks ago and had absolutely no difficulty in getting the compostela. It took me about 15 minutes. I then went on to do the Camino Ingles which I finished last week and queuing for the compostela took less than 10 minutes. So I don't think that time is a problem.
You do have to scan a QR code outside the building and complete a questionnaire on your phone. When you complete the questionnaire (name, nationality, name of camino etc), you will get a barcode / QR code on your phone which you need to access the building. Ivar has a video on that process in this website / youtube. Buen Camino.
Dave
 

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