The credencial, or Pilgrim Record
The credencial, a distant successor to the safe-conducts issued to medieval pilgrims, is a document printed and issued by the cathedral authorities in Santiago, and made available to bona fide pilgrims at points along the route - e.g. at Roncesvalles, and at some churches and refugios - and through the Spanish associations. It presupposes that the bearer is making the pilgrimage for spiritual reasons. This does not necessarily mean Roman Catholic and pilgrims will not be asked about their denomination, or even whether they are Christian, although of course historically the pilgrimage itself has meant Christian pilgrimage. Today and in practice, however, the credencial covers anyone making the pilgrimage in a frame of mind that is open and searching.
The Pilgrim Record is a similar document, accepted as proof of bona fide pilgrim status, and issued by pilgrim asociations outside Spain. The Confraternity of Saint James's Pilgrim Record is available to members only (NOT to non-members) who plan to walk or cycle or go on horseback to Santiago. No charge is made. Records are numbered and a register kept. They are not usually given to those making the pilgrimage with vehicular back-up. Confraternity members planning a pilgrimage should apply to the Pilgrim Records Secretary in good time.
To prevent abuse of the 1000-year old spirit of hospitality of the pilgrimage, access to the refugios is restricted to those carrying such evidence of their pilgrim status. The refugios are mainly run on a voluntary basis, and most depend on donations: pilgrims are asked to respect the facilities and services which are offered to them. If the warden (hospitalero) feels that any pilgrim's behaviour is out of keeping with the spirit of the pilgrimage, or such as to distress other pilgrims, he or she is entitled to withdraw the credencial or Pilgrim Record.
You should have your credencial or Record stamped daily at the refugio, a church, town hall (ayuntamiento) or the local office - cuartel - of the Guardia Civil, to make a record of your pilgrimage. At Santiago you present your Record at the Pilgrim Office close to the Cathedral and you will generally be given a Compostela certificate (the traditional document, in Latin, confirming the completion of the pilgrimage). Walkers and pilgrims on horseback must have completed at least the last 100km and cyclists the last 200 km, in one stretch, to qualify.
Two stamps per day?
To ensure piglrims cover the important last 100km on foot (and do not ake the bus or taxi!) the Pilgrim Office asks that pilgrims get two stamps a day for their pilgrimage within Galicia. If you are starting before Galicia ie from the UK, somewhere in France or eslsewhere in Spain, one stamp a day will suffice.