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How much money the French Foreign Legion pays in 2020?

7 mins read
Pay in French Foreign Legion

It’s not a simple question. As you will see it’s somewhere between 1300€ and 7000€. How much they pay you in the French Foreign Legion depends on many factors such as rank, family situation, qualifications etc. The salary is higher while you are on operation in abroad.

Some details about the pay in the French Foreign Legion

Before you pass to the tables, let me to explain you some details. Many people think that a Legionnaire makes as much money as a member of the famous Blackwater mercenary organization. Wrong.

A Legionnaire doesn’t make more money as a normal soldier in the regular French Army. The rules are the same for us, nothing more and nothing less.

french foreign legion pay
Click for my ebook about the pay in the French Foreign Legion

A program called “SourceSolde” calculates the salary for everyone according to his actual military and family situation.

The military situation

It covers everything, which concern the person in the army, like:

  • Rank,
  • Years of service,
  • Years in a rank,
  • Qualifications etc.

The family situation

It means if a person

  • is married,
  • having children,
  • living in town,
  • since when he joined his unit etc.

I wanted to stay simple, but in the same time I want to let you estimate the best possible the salary of a French soldier. For this, I took a single man, living in the barrack for each rank. 

Salary of single man living in the barrack

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire1348 €
Caporal1355€ 1370€
Caporal-chef1366€ 1770€
Sergent1442€1827€
Sergent-chef1484€ 1944€
Adjudant1846€ 2046€
Adjudant-chef1997€ 2175€
Major2111€ 2345€

The salaries during a deployment, still for a single man. 

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire3423€
Caporal3464€
Caporal-chef3514€ 3829€
Sergent3598€ 3800€
Sergent-chef3760€ 4946€
Adjudant3922€ 5189€
Adjudant-chef4838€ 5534€
Major5037€ 5990€

Pay of a single parachutist 

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire2067€
Caporal2074€ 2089€
Caporal-chef2078€ 2485€
Sergent2084€2178€
Sergent-chef2144€ 2599€
Adjudant2200€ 2714€
Adjudant-chef2586€ 2843€
Major2660€ 3011€

Salary of a single parachutist during a deployment

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire4149€
Caporal4170€ 4241€
Caporal-chef4180€ 5285€
Sergent4212€ 4465€
Sergent-chef4374€ 5611€
Adjudant4468€ 5864€
Adjudant-chef5514€ 6214€
Major5717€ 6670€

The field service prime

Probably the most important factor your salary depends on.
How can you get it? You have to leave the regiment for 36 hours at least. 

RankSingleMarried
Legionnaire33,53€41,91€
Caporal33,53€41,91€
Caporal-chef40,90€51,13€
Sergent40,90€51,13€
Sergent-chef40,90€51,13€
Adjudant49,46€61,84€
Adjudant-chef49,46€61,84€
Major49,46€61,84€

NOTE: The paratroopers don’t earn the field service prime!

IAC (Indemnité d’Absence Cumulée or cumulative absence indemnity)

This bonus is effective since January 2016. Soldiers absent for professional reasons related to its operational activities for a period exceeding 150 days (accumulated over the course of a year) giving rise to compensation or premium for:

  • Service
  • Field services
  • OPEX
  • MCD (Mission Courte Durée – Guyana, Mayotte, Réunion etc…)
Cumulative absenceAmount per night of absence
Beyond 150 and up to 175 days10€
Beyond 175 and up to 200 days25€
Beyond 200 and up to 250 days50€
Au-delà de 250 et jusqu’à 365 jours 85€

Example: last year I did 203 days on OPEX, field missions and service. It means that this year, I’ll have the following bonus as IAC.
IAC= (25×10)+(25×25)+(3×50)= 650€

The high mountain premium

A new bonus has been introduced since April 2019 for qualified soldiers of mountain troops, which concerns the 2°REG in the French Foreign Legion. (This premium cannot be combined with the paratrooper’s bonus).

High mountain team leader Leader of high mountain detachment Military mountain guide instructor
+115€/month +230€/month +350€/month

You need to take into account that I only have taken the salary for those who are living in the regiment. So, for a caporal of the French Foreign legion means that he doesn’t have to pay anything but his food for Friday night and the weekend, because he has a lunch and dinner each day and the rooms are for free in the regiment.

During a year

in a combat unit you pass at least 4 months on field service, 2 months on Vigipirate (the “counter-terrorist” mission in France), 4 months on a training or in the regiment and 2 months on holiday. So each time you are on mission somewhere else, you make more money.

In some forums people sometimes say that the pay is bad in the FFL

Yes, you aren’t gonna be the next Bill Gates if you are serving as a simple soldier in any army of the world, that’s for sure. You are working occupied way more, than normal people and probably make less money.
BUT, France isn’t a 3rd world country and people are living a normal life from a soldier’s salary.
When I was a legionnaire, I could spare over 30% of my pay and lived a very easy life. I travelled in Europe, ate in restaurants, bought the latest phone etc…

So ask these questions:

  • How much money do I have to make in my own country if I want to easily spare around 650 euros a month?
  • What kind of job will allow me to spare around 650 euros a month without any diplom and experience?

Thank you for reading! If you have any further question about the salary, please leave a comment below.

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57 Comments

    • 1348 euro is around 1450 dollars nowadays. You can count +35 dollars for each day on the field. In an average year we do around 150 days on the field (+5250usd/year) if you don’t go on mission. You need to take into account that you don’t pay for food during the week and the accommodation is provided.
      For further information you can use this link to count your salary during a 4 months long opex for example :
      https://lmgtfy.com/?q=euro+in+dollar

  1. Are all regiments do that ave. 150 days on field? if they don’t have opex for instance, or there were regiments that will literally sit within their reg. for the whole 365 days? Thank you

    • In a year when a “combat” unit doesn’t go on mission abroad, it will probably reach the 150 days out of the regiment. It’s especially true in 2REI and 2REG. My company will pass 3 months on the field and 4 months on Vigipirate (Operation Sentinelle) in France. You have to take into account, that I’m talking about combat units. If you are in logistic it can be around 30 – 60 days a year at max.

  2. Ive red on one of your article here that you already get paid few days after you get in. I am assuming that ofcourse legionnaires get paid during the 4 months basic training.Are they already starting to earn the base pay that you have indicated above, or how and how much are they getting paid during the basics?

    • Hey, I’ll look for the exact answer and will update the post, but a Legionnaire in 3REI earns around 500 euros more, than in France.

  3. Hi, enjoy reading your articles keep it up wanna read some of stories while on deployment.

    Is pay done in cash? Does the Legion have its own system of deposit salary? I would assume it would be hard to open a bank account seeing as legonaires aren’t French.

    Thanks

    • Hey,

      No, on the contrary. When you enlist, the FFL helps you to open a bank account so you can receive your first salary at the end of the first month. You’ll also get your bank card right after the farm.

    • Hello, thanks for the answers Aron.Which is the best regiment to live , i mean the location like calvi or nimes ,to spend your free time when you are not deployed?

    • Hey,
      The best are probably Nîmes, Carpiagne. Laudan and Castel could be okay for some type of people. Calvi, La Cavalerie (13 dble) and St. Christol are the worst to live. However, since corporals over 3 years of service can buy a car, things are getting better.

  4. Hey Aron, how easy is it to send money home for your kids while in the legion especially in the beginning? Oh and if you’re stationed in French Guiana can you travel to other parts of South American during vacation?

    • Hey, it’s not more complicated than if you would want to send money from your country to France. If you’re having family while you join, you just need to ask your hierarchy to allow you to send money once a month.
      And yes, you can travel from French Guyana wherever you want. Check out the destinations on Skyscanner

  5. Hello, thanks for the answers Aron.Which is the best regiment to live , i mean the location like calvi or nimes ,to spend your free time when you are not deployed?

  6. Hello Soldier,
    I am going through 3 week intense training then applying for recruitment. I have one small question. Can I consume and carry my Protein Powder, MODAFINIL* and basic medicines through the camp? Please let know. I would be grateful

    *Modafinil is a medicine used by NASA astronauts and many militaries during long missions to be awake, focus and concentrate more for ultimate performance.

    • Hey, not really. When you arrive in Aubagne, they’ll take all of your belongings and once you signed your contract, you’ll be able to take some basic stuff from your bag, like underwear, socks or a dictionary, but that’s all. I’d be surprised if you could actually could keep any drugs you bring into the recruitment center.

  7. Hi Aron,
    2 questions about the salary at the tables: Is it net salary, or gross salary? So taxes and e.g. insurance primes have to be paid from it?

    The “field service prime” is per day, right? (net or gross)?

    Thanks a lot…

    • Hey,
      Everything is in net in the tables and yes the field service prime is paid per day generally 2-3 months after the field mission ended. So if you did 20 days in August, you’ll get a bonus of approximately 640 euros in October or November.

      In May in each year, you have to declare your income and you’ll pay the taxes after your last year’s salary. It won’t be too much, I paid around 300-500 euros a year. It could be more if you go to French Guyana because people earn more money there. (+400 euros a month so around 1700 euros each month for a legionnaire, 6-8000 euros field service prime a year and 3×6000 euros of bonus for serving in South America. So you’ll be around 33000 euros a year which will bring you into a different tax category.

  8. One more question about the IAC.

    Is there are a mistake?

    You wrote: IAC = (25 × 10) + (25 × 25) + (3 × 50) = 650 €

    But the sum is 1.025 Euro, not 650 Euro ?!

  9. I have noticed that the Legion recruiters never ever give accurate and up to date information. The pay rates they quote are often 2 to 3 years out of date and the 45 days leave is never given until the 3rd year of service. 15 days eave is the usual during the first year of service and 30 days during the second year of service so in a 5 years contract a legionare would get 180 days total leave. I do not know if they get weekends off in Barracks are any other type of leave in addition to the annual leave. Pay in the garrison is bad and there is not much incentive for promotion when you see the pay of the sous officers compared to the rank and file. There may well be other additions to pay other than the extra pay when deployed on operations. They proberbly get a 75% discount of SNCF also and if the pay rates quoted are net of tax then it may not be to bad. I think though that Sous Officers may not get free food and may have mess bills to pay in addition.

    • Hey, I’d complete your comment with a few details.
      1. You have 45 days of holiday from your second year and you can take them off if your yearly program allows you to do so. You can be a corporal with 4 years of service, but if you have too much field missions and trainings you can’t take your days off. There’s no rule for this part.
      2. Same for the weekends. You can go out of the base even at a Wednesday night if you have nothing to do, like during the weekends.
      3. The sous-officiers don’t pay for lunch, but the dinner isn’t free for them like for legionnaires.
      4. You get a bonus during operation like I said in this article.
      5. People in the French armed forces have a 75% discount of SNCF. Officers and NCOs can use it even on first class.

  10. Thank you and it is good to have further clarity. The fact sous-officiers and commissioned officers can travel first class at a discount. The other information about time off is also useful.

    For those seeking a potential career in the french law enforcement agencies after the legion the following may be useful and it includes all the allowances and percentages paid in addition to the net monthly income.It is the English language translation version.

    https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=https://www.police-nationale.net/salaires/&prev=search&pto=aue French Police

    https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=https://www.police-nationale.net/salaires-gendarmerie/&prev=search&pto=aue French Gendarmerie

    https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=https://infos.emploipublic.fr/article/devenir-douanier-les-principaux-metiers-des-douanes-eea-7520&prev=search&pto=aue French Customs

    There are many of the worlds militaries that pay badly.The french earn less than the Germans and Danish,British and Irish armed forces but when deductions for tax and other things are taken into account, the net amount is very similar to the British and Irish.

  11. Thankfully nowadays legionaires have a bank account which saves most of their money being stolen by the more dodgy and unscrupulous legionaires. With free board and lodging a legionaire should be able to save a decent amount and be able to travel overseas on leave and still have plenty of savings left on his return. With the extra expenses incured as a sous officier is it really worth the hassle of attending and passing the promotion courses. More responsibility and some status but no real reward financially.

  12. Hello, if i have a degree in mechanical engineer how can i NOT end up in 2 engineer combat regiment in saint christol ,and how can i have more luck getting in 2 reg in Nimes ,it matters if i end up in the best 10 performances?thanks already for your answer

    • Nobody is going to care about your degree. You should finish between the firsts during the basic training and you just choose 2rei.

  13. hey, Aron so basically what difference does it make if you are holding a degree? I have 0 ideas of how things work in the selection. thank you

    • It doesn’t actually change anything during selection. It won’t be a plus if that’s what you want to know. In some cases it could even be a disadvantage. If you come from the USA and you’re having a university degree in engineering, you need to be extremely convincing if you want to join. The FFL is basicly looking for young guys who’ll stay for a long period.

    • thank you Aron for your reply, so basically it doesn’t give an advantage, but if I got accepted is there a special place for the engineer or they do the same work like everybody else?
      thank you

  14. So, what happens if i get killed? Will my savings be passed to my family? Will my body be sent back home? I know this isnt the nicest of toughts, but it is a combat position. Thank you for the article!

    • Hey,
      Yes, your savings will be transferred to a member you designed in your assurance. Your family will decide where you’ll be buried in this case, but if you don’t have anyone in your life, the FFL arranges everything.

  15. Hello,
    I’m very interested join FFL but I’m already married and have 2 kids. If I become legionaire can I send my pay to my wife and kids in home country? Because I’m moslem and have responsibility pay bills and their living cost.

    Thank you very much, If you willing the answer.

  16. hello i am planning to join FFL in october, i am just waiting my flying ticket, i am interesting what happens when u are getting Residence permit, can u take your wife and kid with u in france, or not? some guys told me rhar when i will get Residence permit, i can rent home and with helping of lawyer i can take my family with me, only if i will live out of base…is that true?

  17. Hey aron thanks for the information firstly,second can i choose my speciality in 2reg are there many like machinegunner,driver,(nurse is an interesting speciality can i say that i want to get that training).Third, of i was in the military police does it help to be a mp also in the legion and does the mp choose where to go and has overseas?

  18. Hey Aron, one question. I want to go in 1 month exactly.. Someone told me to go to marseille and join there and then everything goes on. Should I bring more money in case I need to return back? Should I get glasses since I have some small diopter or I don’t need them since I am not anyways wearing them?

    • Should I buy card in one way or return ticket in case. And for how long should I tell them on airport that I am planning to stay because I don’t have anyone and I am tourist. Can I just tell them I am going as a tourist or I can just go with that I am going to test myself for being legionnaire?everything is so confusing.

    • Hey,
      It’s pretty hard to know if you get in or not in advance, so I don’t think it’s a good idea. Either way, if you can’t join, you’ll have time think about this problem. However, it’s good to have some savings for a return trip.

  19. Hey Aron! I would like to know what happens to a legionnaire who gets seriously injured in combat. A legionaire has a life insurance, a retirement plan or something like that for theses situations?

  20. no es caro vivir en francia? es decir vivo en México y he leído que en Francia la renta fácilmente puede ir de 500 euros con mucha suerte ¿es necesario que rentes? ¿puedes vivir en el cuartel? había leído algo sobre acogida gratuita durante un tiempo…. que tan común es que te manden a una misión en el extranjero?

  21. Hey Aron.

    I have been thinking for some time now, to join the ffl. My question is more related to, how the standard salary is if you have a wife and kids, and they live in the country I’m coming from?
    I have read that they can come and live in some apartments nearby the base is that true?

    • Hey, if your family stays in the country you’re coming from your salary won’t change too much. Your family status will be taken into account, but the real change is when you decide to rent an apartment near to the base. For me it was 180 euros per month, but if you have kids it can go higher.

      Do note that it’s only possible after the first 5 years or if you become an NCO.

  22. Hello Aron, I was wondering if prior combat/fitness training would help climb to better positions or get privileges in the FFL or if that is only based on time served and how is the base you’re located in and job you are given decided? is it based on your skill sets and interests or is that randomly decided?

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