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LIVE from the Camino Minimum age to stay in municipal albergues

Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Northern Route, 2017 Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra. 2018 Frances, 2018 Ingles, 2019 Portugues
This is my 4th Camino and as far as I know there have been under 18 year olds (within reason) staying in municipal and other hostels.

However last night ( I am on the camino portuges) when I checked in to the municipal albergue, the hospitaliero looked behind me at 2 young men. He pointed to them and said " you are not coming in".

He checked their passports and one was 2 months shy on 18. He refused tort them in. Told then to go back to the embassy at lisbon and get confirmation fro. His parents. I asked if he could speak to one of the boys parents "no". Could I be a temporary guardian, " no".

The boys called a central number and eventually the police. The boys were allowed to stay after a parent sent an email to confirm their support if their son.

Then after the police left, an official ( not sure from where) came and explained that you cant be under 18, insurance issues etc. You need parental consent etc.

I took my hat off to these you g men who behaved in such a mature manner.

Anyone had a similar experience or know if there is a definitive rule about this?

Lucy
 
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The age of majority in Spain is 18. Pilgrims younger than that should take a notarized permission letter from their parents. I think turning them away is a bit unusual, but the hostal has a lot of liability if a minor is injured or assaulted on the premises. The landlord was being prudent, I think.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
This is my 4th Camino and as far as I know there have been under 18 year olds (within reason) staying in municipal and other hostels.

However last night ( I am on the camino portuges) when I checked in to the municipal albergue, the hospitaliero looked behind me at 2 young men. He pointed to them and said " you are not coming in".

He checked their passports and one was 2 months shy on 18. He refused tort them in. Told then to go back to the embassy at lisbon and get confirmation fro. His parents. I asked if he could speak to one of the boys parents "no". Could I be a temporary guardian, " no".

The boys called a central number and eventually the police. The boys were allowed to stay after a parent sent an email to confirm their support if their son.

Then after the police left, an official ( not sure from where) came and explained that you cant be under 18, insurance issues etc. You need parental consent etc.

I took my hat off to these you g men who behaved in such a mature manner.

Anyone had a similar experience or know if there is a definitive rule about this?

Lucy

I didn't know about this law at all. I guess I stay in hostals too often, and in albergues teenagers are not the people I usually hook up with... :)

Anyway, good that the 18-year-olds behaved in a mature manner. If there's a law against younger people, the law is there to be followed by everyone: by the teens as well as by the owner of the albergue.

Just saying that a hospitalero like that can come off as "rude", but he was doing the right thing. It's the boy who wasn't 18 yet (or his parents) who should have read up on this before setting out on the Camino.

/BP
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Again, soon as possible!
In 2015 I met three sisters walking the Frances, their ages were 16, 14 and 12. They were Spanish and had their parents permission to walk.

I first met them In the San Jaun Bautista albergue in Granon, my mat on the floor was next to the 16 year old. I must say at first I was quite uncomfortable with this and worried for them, but I did not need to be. They were looked after the whole way, we all kept an eye out for them. The 16 year old 'in charge' was very adult and they were all as good as gold. Some of us even spoke to their mum at home on the phone. Still, I was suprised they were allowed in the albergues!

Davey
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
If there's a law against younger people, the law is there to be followed by everyone: by the teens as well as by the owner of the albergue.
The legal concept that I am familiar with, and which might be coming into play here, is that of 'in loco parentis'. If someone is not an adult, and not accompanied by their parents or legal guardian, an adult would need to be identified who can make legal decisions on behalf of the parents wrt to the child. There are any number of reasons this might be required, even on the camino. Of course, when things are going well, this may never become an issue. But even something as simple as needing medical treatment might need the permission of the person acting in loco parentis.

Is this a role for hospitaleros? I don't think so, but I guess someone could explain why it might be an acceptable impost on volunteers or others managing accommodation in albergues, hostels, etc.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2005
I am with DougFitz on this - imagine if something went wrong, an accident, a minor was interfered with or similar - loco parentis indeed!

Mind you - laws can and do conflict. While the minimum marrying age in Spain is 18, currently Spanish law allows for two exceptions: a 16-year-old wanting to marry can do so with parental permission, while 14-year-olds are allowed to marry with permission from a judge. Which means that one could have an 'under-age' Spanish couple arrive at a refugio who are legally married and living an adult life.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Mind you - laws can and do conflict. While the minimum marrying age in Spain is 18, currently Spanish law allows for two exceptions: a 16-year-old wanting to marry can do so with parental permission, while 14-year-olds are allowed to marry with permission from a judge. Which means that one could have an 'under-age' Spanish couple arrive at a refugio who are legally married and living an adult life.

Minimum marrying age in Spain is 16. There is no way to marry under that age.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Anyone had a similar experience or know if there is a definitive rule about this?
Albergues (at least those of the municipal kind) have a reglamento interno which includes rules for those who request accommodation as an individual. You can easily find a few samples on the internet. It includes rules about minimum age and in particular the 16-18 age group and their required documentation. Independent of the finer aspects of legal implications of Spanish law (whether the minor is married or emancipated or has a letter from their parents), the point is that municipal albergues are entitled to have such internal rules and those who request a bed have to comply with their rules.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Theoretical minimum age is probably one day, provided you are accompanied by a parent (i.e. your mother in such an extreme case) or legal guardian. Pilgrims giving birth on the Camino are not required to abandon it.

To have a right to stay in a refugio alone though, prior to the age of legal majority, would require formal legal & parental authorisation, not necessarily as any sort of official Government form (Spanish Law is less nitpicky than the English/US/Germanic/Norse/Napoleonic), but if I were to advise a youngster in such circumstances wishing to Pilgrim alone in Spain (with the prior agreement of his parents), I'd say get a letter of recommendation from the local Catholic Parish priest handwritten into the credencial, and get a similar (free-form) authorisation letter from the head of the family (in Spanish Law, basically the father) -- stick that document into the credencial with white glue. Photocopies of the parental passport(s) and contact details written into the credencial would also help.

A formal visa delivered by the Spanish Embassy, where the purpose of the journey had been formally established as well as the overt parental authorisation, would also be extremely helpful.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I'm not sure what "living an adult life" is. It appears that Spanish legislation about child labour and child brides is pretty much in line with other European countries. Authorisation granted by a court to marry before the age of 16 was indeed abolished a few years ago and was very rare beforehand. So that's yesterday's news. The legal age of consent (to have sex) is 16. The legal minimum age to work is also 16. You can get "legally emancipated" from age 16 onwards and rent an apartment or enter commercial contracts without the consent of parent or other guardian. But you can't vote and there are other restrictions, just like in neighbouring countries.

And also from what I read, hotels and other establishments are entitled to have rules in their contracts with young guests that are stricter than the legal requirements.

PS: And besides, reading the OP again, this happened apparently in Portugal and not in Spain. ☺
 
Last edited:

James P

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF Sep/Oct 2015
C Primitivo Sep / Oct 2016
Portugese Sep/Oct 2017
VdlP, Muxia 2018
No
This is my 4th Camino and as far as I know there have been under 18 year olds (within reason) staying in municipal and other hostels.

However last night ( I am on the camino portuges) when I checked in to the municipal albergue, the hospitaliero looked behind me at 2 young men. He pointed to them and said " you are not coming in".

He checked their passports and one was 2 months shy on 18. He refused tort them in. Told then to go back to the embassy at lisbon and get confirmation fro. His parents. I asked if he could speak to one of the boys parents "no". Could I be a temporary guardian, " no".

The boys called a central number and eventually the police. The boys were allowed to stay after a parent sent an email to confirm their support if their son.

Then after the police left, an official ( not sure from where) came and explained that you cant be under 18, insurance issues etc. You need parental consent etc.

I took my hat off to these you g men who behaved in such a mature manner.

Anyone had a similar experience or know if there is a definitive rule about this?

Lucy
Not unusual for most organisations today. A person under the age of 18 years of age is regarded as a 'minor', 'young person' or a 'child' in most European countries. Child protection policies require that persons under 18 will not share accommodation with adults, i.e. 18 years old and older. Parental consent may be given but an organisation may have and enforce it's own policy in this regard as far as I am aware. Of course this is very difficult to control on the basis of appearance alone. Some young people appear more mature than others. As we are required to provide personal ID at the albergue, hence they will be aware of our age. Also, some insurance companies have policies enforcing the requirement.
 

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