Can you avoid prison by joining French Foreign Legion?

I was told people can join the French Foreign Legion to avoid prison. Surely it is not true?  S.M.

25 December 2019
By Oliver Rowland

There is no link between the court system and the Legion so, no, people are not offered a stint in the Legion as an alternative to prison, legionnaire Chief Sergeant Benjamin Coureu told Connexion.

In the past, the Legion was very relaxed about who could join, so it could be a way for those with a complicated history to restart their lives and seek anonymity.

Today, he said, it does not take those with a record of very serious crimes such as “murder, drug trafficking or terrorism”.

However, a policy of people joining under assumed names still exists, which may appeal to some. “It is a way of ensuring equality.

Everyone is anonymous at first so everyone is on the same level, even if they have done something serious in civilian life.

A few months or years later, they take up their old identity.”


Send your queries about life in France by email to  

subscribe newsletter image
Stay informed, have your say, join the community
Boost your inbox with our editor’s pick of news and information about France for residents and second homeowners
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Updated! Brexit and Britons In France
Featured Help Guide
What Brexit means for British residents, second homeowners and visitors in France - now and after December 31, 2020.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now