8 Steps to Join the French Foreign Legion

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french foreign legion joining

A step by step guide about how to join the French Foreign Legion

If you want to join the French Foreign Legion, there are some things you should know . In this article article I collected all the information I found helpful about the recruitment.

Before passing to the steps, do note that joining the French Foreign Legion doesn’t rely on formal education. You can come to France and become a Legionnaire without any specific education. Your future is only going to depend on the results of your tests. So, this guide focuses on the joining procedure and I hope it will help you to realize your dream.

Step 0: Check your prerequisites for joining!

The age limit in the French Foreign Legion is between 17.5 and 39.5 years.

  • Under 18 years, you have to present a parental authorization in French, so I advise you to wait 6 months and join on your birthday if you don’t want to loose your time.
  • Older people have to take into account, that the age limit is 39.5. It means, that the day when you sign your contract, you must be younger than 39 years and 6 months. It doesn’t mean, that you still can knock on the door when you reached the age limit.
French Foreign Legion recruits
The French Foreign Legion recruits 1300 new Legionnaires in 2021

My advices if you want to join the French Foreign Legion

  • Don’t go to France if you can’t do 4 pull-ups. If you want to be sure, try to go up to ten, but don’t buy your plane ticket if you aren’t ready.
  • Check your result on the Luc Leger beep test! This isn’t something evident. A few weeks of training could make the difference, so don’t forget this part from your preparation!
  • Have your teeth checked before you go to France! With a tooth decay, you’ll have to return to your country with the first plane!
  • If you want to join the mountain troops or the paratroopers, your body mass index shouldn’t be too high! If you arent particularly muscular, my advice is that you should try to go under 25.
    Click here for a calculator!

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.

Confucius

Step 1: Decide in which recruiting center you want to go

The first step is to decide in which recruiting center you want to go. If you are coming from the other side of the globe, the best idea is to fly to Paris and go to Fort de Nogent. I’d give the same advice for everyone who has to take a plane to reach France.

An example: if you pass the first tests in Paris, you’ll go down to Aubagne to continue the selection. The sport tests are okay, but if you fail the IQ test, you’ll have to leave. In this case, the FFL will give you a train ticket back to Paris for free and you can catch a plane from the capital. Yes, it’s not too positive to talk about failure, but I advise you to have a secondary plan.

Other recruitment points:

Step 2: Prepare your stuff to join the French Foreign Legion

You’ll need the following documents:

  1. A plane ticket
  2. Visa – People from the Schengen area don’t need a visa, but citizens of countries may need this document. For more information check the webpage of your country’s embassy!
  3. Passport, ID card (for EU citizens), driving license (if you have one, it could be useful)
  4. A birth certificate – In some countries you can obtain this document including a French translation. If it’s your case, take one. If not, once you enlisted, you’ll have to ask for one example and have it translated.

You’ll need the following things:

  1. 2-3 t-shirts
  2. 7 pair of socks and underwear (these will be useful during basic training)
  3. A good pair of running shoes (!)
  4. Cash (50 euros and some coins for the café machine in Paris)
  5. Towel and slippers
  6. Shower gel
  7. Toilet paper (you should find in the toilets, but not always)
  8. A good razor, some new blades and shaving gel
  9. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  10. Soap and a small brush, because you’ll have to wash your clothes by hand at the beginning
  11.  A French dictionary, because the one you can buy in Castelnaudary is too big
  12.  A small book, because you’ll have a lot of free time at the beginning
  13.  A set of clothes you’ll use approximately 5 months later during your first weekend. If you go to France in July, it’s not a bad idea to take a pullover and a pair of jeans

Some useful advices:

  1. Write your parents’, siblings’ and friends’ phone number in a small notebook. So you won’t be like an idiot when you’ll have the possibility to call back home
  2. Don’t take your laptop or tablet to the recruitment center. It’s better if you leave it at home and ask someone to send to your regiment once you finished the basic training
  3. Don’t take any “tactical equipment” like a knife, military backpack, uniform or whatever you have in your head. Even if it’s an awesome Leatherman Military Utility Tool you took because you wanted to seem motivated and “ops”, they’ll take it away
  4. When you are going to be in a recruitment center, you’ll have plenty of weird thoughts and you’ll feel your motivation evaporated. Don’t stop your training and preparation. Do some push-ups or pull-ups when you’ll have the possibility and don’t be afraid if someone does twice more than you. Physical fitness isn’t everything

Let your dream devour your life, not your life devour your dream.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Step 3: Go to a recruitment center

If you chose to go to Paris. Step 3 is to find the way to Fort de Nogent from the Charles de Gaulle airport. Here is a way to reach the fortress:

fort de nogent legionstories
Fort de Nogent
  • Take your bag and follow the exit signs
  • Follow the RER B inscription (blue line)
  • Buy a ticket at the station. I didn’t have my credit card so I asked a French guy to buy my ticket and I paid back him in cash. Price 10.30€
  • Take the RER B and take off at “Chatelet-les-Halles”, the journey will take around 25-30 minutes
  • Switch to RER A (red line) in the direction of “Boissy-Saint-Léger”, but you took off at Val-de-Fontenay. Good news, the you only have 2km left to reach the fortress.
  • Look for “Avenue du Val de Fontenay” when you quit the station. You’ll see a big roundabout and continue straight ahead until you arrive on Boulevard Gallieni. Walk a few hundred meters and turn left onto “Impasse de la Croix Pommier” and you’ll see the fortress. 

This is how I arrived to Fort de Nogent (and got lost as you can see in the first chapter). It’s much better if you previously downloaded the journey via Wi-Fi at home and just follow its instructions until you arrive at the base.

Remove failure as an option

Joan Lunden

Step 4: Choose an ideal hour to arrive

The French Foreign Legion keeps open its doors throughout the year, but I recommend you to arrive during weekdays, from 8 AM to 18 PM.

selection French Foreign Legion
Selection and Incorporation center

These are our normal working hours, so try to respect them. It’s also better for you, because you won’t have to wait too long before they leave you enter the base. Once you are in, they’ll check your bag and take your passport.

This is when the recruitment process starts.

Step 5: Pass your first test!

You’ll be asked to realize as many pull-ups as you can. The minimum is 4 in the French Army, but 4 isn’t always enough to join the French Foreign Legion. Be prepared and try to go up to 10 at least.

Step 6: Be sure to know your medical history

You’ll wait and wait during long hours (time to pull out the book I advised you to put in your bag). The only things to do will be some little jobs around the building and you’ll also have to fill out several papers, including the personality test.

Before heading to Aubagne, a doctor will examine you and make the first medical tests. Don’t be surprised when he’ll check your balls. Note that the medical tests include a urinalysis.

Don’t take drugs and if you took before, don’t mention when they ask you. You shouldn’t drink protein shakes day and night before joining the French Foreign Legion.

This test could show a protein excess in your urine and this condition is often a sign of kidney disease. So, you’ll have to see a doctor in Paris and be examined. This would make you lose money and time. 

Step 7: Pass the main selection tests in Aubagne

To pass the tests which will determinate your future, you will go down to Aubagne by TGV (high-speed train). It takes place on each Tuesday and Thursday. A bus will take the candidates to the Headquarter of the French Foreign Legion in Aubagne from the railway station in Marseille. They’ll bring you directly to the recruitment center as you’ve already passed the “preselection” phase.

You will pass the following tests:

  • The medical tests: it will involve a global check, a urine screen (to measure the drug, blood, protein level), audiometry (hearing test), an eye exam, a dental check and an ECG.
  • The sport tests: these tests have changed in 2020. Nowadays, you will have to pass the Luc Leger test, do as many clear, military pull-ups as you can and a 2400 meters running tests as fast as possible. In a normal case, you will also have to do a 25 meters long swimming test.
  •  The IQ test: the IQ test doesn’t require any specific knowledge, but a bit practice could speed up your decision making time.
  • The interviews: during these discussions, you have to convince your interviewer why you would like to join the French Foreign Legion.

Step 8: Become a Legionnaire

The commission day. You’ll be standing in formation before the building of the recruitment center and an officer will hopefully call your name between the firsts. If he does, you successfully joined the French Foreign Legion!

For more about daily life in the French Foreign Legion, you should start to read my stories from the beginning. You’ll also find some interesting posts on the blog about the salary or the history of the FFL. If you have any questions, you can contact me directly via our formule or write me on WhatsApp.

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53 Comments

  1. Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this site daily, this
    web page is genuinely nice and the visitors are genuinely sharing good thoughts.

    • Thanks, a question, can I introduce myself with my measurement glasses, is there any limit of view?

    • Hi I previous service in the British army are the age limits absaloute are there any way if you show excellent physical fitness and good iq and have a good military mind is there any way the age limit maybe a bit flexible in circumstances were you are over 39.5 if could advise please as I am serious concidering it if I could be given the chance but ufortunetly I’m a little over 39.5,thank you

    • Hey, no I’m sorry. If you are over 39.5 you can’t join, because probably you won’t be allowed to stay until retirement.

  2. Hi sir good evening’
    It’s me khag bahadur jhedi from nepal. Sir iam married it’s necessary to show married certificate and birth certificate?

    • Hello im from united states im 27 years old and want to join the military but can’t join the united states military because of some small trouble i got in as a teenager. Can i still join the French military?

  3. Hello greetings from Mongolia ! east asian country.
    I am 21 years old then my height is 171cm , weigh 58kilos.
    I have Russian mix 50% then i can speak Russian , Mongolian ,English to.
    My iq is 118 tested it 1 year before.
    Can i join ? it possible ? please reply say something.

  4. Hello
    Can you give some information about phsycall /sports examination?
    What kind of things we have to do at phsycall exam
    And how many time?
    Is there any type of time limitation and the target too?

  5. thanks’u my friend Aron, one question, is there a vision limit?, can i introduce myself with my glasses?

  6. Thank you very much for responding friend Aron, the first week of December I will introduce myself, I hope it is a good day

  7. Hi my question is if i have hole in ear drum what abt it? And about blood pressure and other medical criteria .

  8. Bonjour, c’est comment l’engagement pour nous les africains passionnés de la légion étrangère française ?

    • Bonjour,

      C’est la même procédure que pour tout le monde. Il faut de présenter à Paris ou à Aubagne et réussir les tests. Tu trouveras toutes les informations nécessaires concernant le sujet sur mon blog

  9. Hi
    My Name: Abbock Apok John
    Am from Vanuatu
    This is very interesting for me…
    How can i join french legions?
    Am 30 years of age this year..
    Please i need assistance…

    Thank you
    Kind Regards
    Abbock Apok John

  10. Am from Kenya 26yrs, wch month is sweetable for me to come to france légionare? Wch month is most advantage to join without alot of competition?

    • Hey, it’s probably around Christmas when there are a bit less candidate, but if you are good enough, you’ll get in even in July.

    • A tooth missing isn’t a problem. Check out if you can travel to France from your country. If the answer is yes, it means that you can apply.

  11. Hello Sir!!! Greetings from Nepal
    I have 4 filling teeth
    A bit underbite problem
    And little bit gap between my teeth
    Will it be a problem for selection?

  12. I am from Suriname but I’m living now in frans guyane kourou but I won to join the FFL but I can’t get a Visa do you think if I go to the 3rei HQ company at kourou they will gift me a chance to go to France to do the selection process. Since I was 18 I won to join the FFL now I am 21 I study their life very well. I now what I am going to face

  13. Good day from Namibia, Africa. Im aware that I need a shengan visa to enter France but can’t find much info regarding the recruitment during the pandemic. If you just arrive at a center or if there is some kind of application that needs to be filled out before arrival.
    Thanks

  14. Hi Aron.
    Could you write something about present situation with recrutation. Is it open for volunteers who are not in France?
    Is it open?
    Has something changed?

    Greetings from Poland and Happy 14th july 🙂
    Michał

  15. Howzit, I joined the legion april 2019 but dropped out before going rouse, am I am able to rejoin?

  16. Greeting, sir! I just wanted to express my gratitude for your time and efford to create the most informative site about FFL in such an understandable language(for bloody civvies like meself). I “escaped” mandatory service(in a legal way) in my home country some ten years ago and I tried all kinds of educations, jobs and relationships too, none have ever filled the need to be a part of something like the FFL. Did some rough living in my early 20s, bit I plan to beat myself in shape in a few years(and finish yet another pointless university degree that I started) and by the time I’m 34(now 31) I can have the confidence to apply. In your opinion, do my chances of getting accepted dwindle by a lot with each passing year, or do I just have to be in the 39.5 limit to be on an even start with the other applicants? I highly appreciate your opinion, and thanks again for the great website!

  17. Hi
    I am from Afghanistan but i live in france is it possible for an Afghan Citizen to join FFL with Afghanistan passport?

  18. Hello sir! Can you please tell me if will be a problem if I had an varicocel surgery(what you said about balls check) 7-8 months ago? Thank you so much and all the best!

  19. Do they stop recruiting during December for Christmas and New year’s? If so when do they shut down recruiting for the year and when do they resume in 2021?

    • Usually it stops during the week before Christmas and restarts the first week of the year.

      You can go to a recruitment center whenever you want, but you should be aware of the fact that the recruitment process could be longer than usual.

  20. I was wondering should you get a visa..even if you get a 90 day visa from the airport..and decide to go to the paris location..and get selected..boom now your in bootcamp but somehow you decide to quit and leave and your over your 90 days on the visa?..would you get arrested?

    • No. You’ll have a contract with the French Army and a military ID card you can use to certify your identity.

  21. Hello Sir. My height is 1,98 cm , can this be a problem to join? The combat units, specially 2rep and 2reg accept people with glasses or you need to have perfect vision? Thank you!

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