How to Join the French Foreign Legion

Written by ehow culture & society editor
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No other military organization has the mystique of the French Foreign Legion. The men in white kepis have been glamorized on film, renowned for giving other men running from troubled pasts a chance for redemption, and revered for fighting till their last breath for their adopted homeland. Want to join them? Here is how to do it.

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Things you need

  • Passport
  • French-English Dictionary
  • French Visa If Required

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  1. 1

    Make your way to one of the 11 information offices in France. These offices are located in Paris, Lille, Nantes, Strasbourg, Aubagne, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseilles, Nice, Perpignan and Toulouse.

  2. 2

    Present yourself to the recruiting officer and decide if you will use your real name or a declared identity. This last option is for those who wish to make a brand new start in life or for the French citizens who choose to join. Only foreigners are allowed to join the Legion.

  3. 3

    Submit to a preliminary background check. Although the Legion has a reputation for taking all who enlist, felons will not be permitted to join and will be turned away at this point.

  4. 4

    Report to either Paris or Aubagne for a medical check-up. Afterwards, finalize your recruitment dossier and sign an initial five-year service contract. This will take anywhere from one to three days.

  5. 5

    Complete a series of tests in Aubagne that can last anywhere from one to ten days. These tests cover medical examinations, physical agility assessments, personality and psycho-technical questionnaires, a security interview and an investigation into your motivation to join the Legion.

  6. 6

    Sign an unconditional five-year contract and begin training for the 4th Foreign Regiment in Castelnaudary. Your 15 weeks of instruction will include everything from Legion traditions to mountain training.

  7. 7

    Show up for duty in one of the ten different regiments scattered throughout the world. Six are in France, one in Corsica, two in Africa and one in South America to begin your contracted service.

Tips and warnings

  • Although it is not necessary to know French before joining the Foreign Legion, the early days of your career will be much easier if you know a little bit before enlisting.
  • After you have completed one five-year tour of duty, you are eligible to apply for French citizenship, if you choose to do so.
  • Indications that your application to join is going well include: changing the color tab you are wearing (from the original yellow to green and finally to red), getting a haircut courtesy of the Legion, being ordered to memorize a six-digit identification code, an interview about exactly why you want to join and getting gear for basic training purposes.
  • Contrary to some published reports, only physically fit males between the ages of 17 and 40 years are allowed to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. Women are not accepted, and there are no plans to accept them at this time.
  • You cannot bring your wife with you if you join the Legion. All men, regardless of actual marital status, are considered unmarried during their first five-year tour of duty.
  • There are no recruitment offices for the French Foreign Legion anywhere but in France, and any expenses for travel to one of the recruitment offices may not be reimbursed.

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