The Way fo St. James is full of challenges and experiences and the "Compostelana" is the official document that credit your journey.
Although it may not seem like it, its history is very recent and it came from the need to regulate the entry of pilgrims to Santiago.
In the past, the only way to prove that the Camino de Santiago had been carried out was through a scallop-shaped badge, easily falsificable, and then with a probative letter that happened, over the years, to become the Compostela. To be valid, the certification must be signed by the secretary of the compostelana church.
The compostelana also is a way for the church to recognise those pilgrims who did The Way for religious reasons, as some of the walkers do the walk for other ludic or pagan reasons. To get the compostelana, the catholic church ask to demonstrate (with the credentials) that the pilgrims have done the last 100 kilometres of the way if they did it by walk, or the last 200 kilometres if it was by bike.
Anyone can apply for the Compostela in the Internation Reception of Pilgrims Centre, located on Carretas Street, Nº 33, near Obradoiro Square (981 568 846). Their office is open from the 1 of April to 31 of Octuber (and the Holy week) from 8:00 am to 21:00, in winter the opening times if from 10:00 am to 19:00.
In case you are doing the way for non-religious reasons you can also ask for a certificate that shows the kilometres you have traveled.