Things You Should Know If You’re Planning On Running Away and Joining the French Foreign Legion

Comprised of a select 8,000 men, the French Foreign Legion has a reputation for being one of the most challenging environments to serve within any military worldwide. Formed in 1831, the legion formally sits as a branch of the French Army, yet it's thought of as its own entity, with a unique identity and culture. What’s foreign in the French Foreign Legion is not where it fights but who does the fighting. Criminals, fraudsters, wanted businessmen, and deserters……..all were welcome in the past. A strictly no-women-allowed organization, the French Foreign Legion of today runs strict background checks on potential recruits. While they will turn a blind eye to minor criminal records, they will not permit recruits into its ranks who have serious criminal records or are wanted by Interpol. Unlike 100 years ago, AWOL soldiers are also not permitted to join. All new recruits join anonymously with a fake name. After one year, they can request permission to divulge their real name, or if they’re in trouble with the law, the legion will issue official documents for the fake name so they can fully assume a new identity. As for applying, the only way a recruit can join the French Foreign Legion is to turn up in mainland France and knock on the door of one of the numerous recruiting centers. There, they are given free food, accommodations, and clothing. Recruitment centers are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Requirements include: 

  • • Be a man between 17½ and 39½ years of age. 
  • • Have a passport. 
  • • Have a birth certificate. 
  • • Not wanted by Interpol. 
  • • Be physically fit enough to serve at all times and in all places worldwide for at least 5 years. 
  • • Have a BMI between 20 and 30. 
  • • Be able to read and write in your own language. 

Married men can join, but they will be enlisted as single men. The starting salary for a new legionnaire is €1,380 ($1,458) a month, plus bonuses for field training, external missions abroad, and if selected for the Parachute Regiment. All legionnaires are dressed, fed, and housed free of charge. They are also provided with 45 days of vacation a year. Joining the French Foreign Legion is a pathway to citizenship, but only after the initial 3 years of service. Français par le sang versé ("French by spilled blood") allows members of the legion to become French citizens automatically if they are wounded on the battlefield.