French Foreign Legion: Basic salary, Allowance, Incentive, Bonus & Special Pay

Eric Sof

The average French Foreign Legion salary depends on a few factors. Similar to other military units, two basic factors determine the amount of salary. The first and most important factor, as you may assume, is rank and the second most important indicator is the length of service. The salary increases if the legionnaire is sent to an operation abroad.

But, legionnaires often love to express that there are many reasons why one joins the French Foreign Legion (FFL), but country, God, or gold are not among these reasons. That differentiates legionnaires from mercenaries. That is why Légionnaires are not, repeat not, mercenaries, as is all too often believed or said. Légionnaires are part of the French Armée de Terre, the French Army, and are lawful belligerents, combatants, in any conflict in which they may take part.

Basic salary in the French Foreign Legion

The actual average pay for the new legionnaire is somewhere between 1300€ ($1575) and 7000€ ($8478). It depends on the above-explained factors, but before we move to the tables, let me clarify some details. Many people think that a Legionnaire makes as much money as a member of famous private military companies such as Blackwater, but that is not true.

French Foreign Legion: Basic salary, Allowance, Incentive, Bonus & Special Pay
Basic salary, Allowance, Incentive, Bonus & Special Pay in French Foreign Legion are similar to the regular French Army soldiers (Photo: French Foreign Legion)

A Legionnaire doesn’t make more money than an ordinary soldier in the regular French Army. The rules are the same for the Legionnaires, nothing more and nothing less. Here is what it takes into account when determining average military pay in the French Army (the same applies to the French Foreign Legion):

The military situation

It covers everything, which concerns 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 at the same time, I want to let you estimate the best possible salary for a French soldier. For this, I took a single man living in the barrack for each rank.

Allowance, bonus, and special pay

Field Allowance

Field allowance is probably the most crucial factor the legionnaire salary depends on. For every absence from the regiment for 36 hours, you are eligible for compensation in the form of a payment to an expatriate for additional costs and difficulties and working in different locations.

Legionnaire33,53€ ($40,60)41,91€ ($50,75)
Caporal33,53€ ($40,60)41,91€ ($50,75)
Caporal-chef40,90€ ($49,50)51,13€ ($61,93)
Sergent40,90€ ($49,50)51,13€ ($61,93)
Sergent-chef40,90€ ($49,50)51,13€ ($61,93)
Adjudant49,46€ ($59,90)61,84€ ($74,90)
Adjudant-chef49,46€ ($59,90)61,84€ ($74,90)
Major49,46€ ($59,90)61,84€ ($74,90)

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

Legionnaires are eligible for compensation in form of a payment to an expatriate for additional costs and difficulties and working in different locations
Legionnaires are eligible for compensation in the form of a payment to an expatriate for additional costs and difficulties and working in different locations (Photo: XY)

IAC (Indemnité d’Absence Cumulée) – Cumulative absence indemnity

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

  • Service
  • Field services
  • OPEX*
  • MCD (Mission Courte Durée – Guyana, Mayotte, Réunion, etc…)

* OPEX (OPération EXtérieure) is the term to designate a mission overseas, places generally considered conflict zones, etc. Otherwise, it’s also known as RTE (Renfort Temporaire Étranger), but no one ever seems to use that term.

 Cumulative absence:Amount per night of absence
Beyond 150 and up to 175 days10€ ($12,10)
 Beyond 175 and up to 200 days25€ ($30,28)
 Beyond 200 and up to 250 days50€ ($60,56)
Beyond 250 and up to 365 days85€ ($102,95)

EXAMPLE: If you did 203 days on OPEX, field missions, and service. It means that this year, you will have the following bonus as IAC.
IAC= (25×10)+(25×25)+(3×50)= 650€ ($787,25) you will get added to your pay.

High mountain premium

A high mountain premium 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€ ($139,28) / month+230€ ($278,50) / month+350€ ($423,90) / month

Pay in French Foreign Legion

Basic salary of a legionnaire living in the barracks

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire1348€ ($1632)
Caporal1355€ ($1641)1370€ ($1659)
Caporal-chef1366€ ($1654)1770€ ($2143)
Sergent1442€ ($1746)1827€ ($2212)
Sergent-chef1484€ ($1797)1944€ ($2345)
Adjudant1846€ ($2235)2046€ ($2478)
Adjudant-chef1997€ ($2418)2175€ ($2634)
Major2111€ ($2556)2345€ ($2840)

Basic salary of a legionnaire during a deployment

RankMinimum SalaryMaximum Salary
Legionnaire3423€ ($4145)
Caporal3464€ ($4195)
Caporal-chef3514€ ($4256)3829€ ($4637)
Sergent3598€ ($4357,75)3800€ ($4602)
Sergent-chef3760€ ($4554)4946€ ($5990)
Adjudant3922€ ($4750)5189€ ($6284)
Adjudant-chef4838€ ($5859)5534€ ($6702)
Major5037€ ($6100)5990€ ($7254)

Basic salary of a legionnaire parachutist

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire2067€ ($2503)
Caporal2074€ ($2512)2089€ ($2530)
Caporal-chef2078€ ($2517)2485€ ($3010)
Sergent2084€ ($2524)2178€ ($2638)
Sergent-chef2144€ ($2597)2599€ ($3147)
Adjudant2200€ ($2664)2714€ ($3287)
Adjudant-chef2586€ ($3132)2843€ ($3443)
Major2660€ ($3232)3011€ ($3647)

Basic salary of parachutist during a deployment

RankMinimum Salary Maximum Salary
Legionnaire4149€ ($5025)
Caporal4170€ ($5050)4241€ ($5136)
Caporal-chef4180€ ($5063)4285€ ($5190)
Sergent4212€ ($5101)4465€ ($5408)
Sergent-chef4374€ ($5297)5611€ ($6796)
Adjudant4468€ ($5411)5864€ ($7102)
Adjudant-chef5514€ ($6678)6214€ ($7526)
Major5717€ ($6924)6670€ ($8078)


During a year in a combat regiment, you will have at least four months on field service, two months on Vigipirate (the counter-terrorism mission in France), four months in training or the regiment, and two months on holiday. So each time you are on a mission somewhere else, you make extra money.

french foreign legion enlistment - RECRUITMENT
French Legionnaires marching on the French Foreign Legion day (Photo: Pinterest)

It means that you could spare at least 30% of your pay and live an easy life. Of course, you won’t get rich, but it is more than enough to travel the world, eating in restaurants, buy the latest gadgets, etc. A Legionnaire of the French Foreign Legion 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.


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7 thoughts on “French Foreign Legion: Basic salary, Allowance, Incentive, Bonus & Special Pay”

  1. If I want to join the French Foreign Legion should I just show up at the door? I tried to email, but nobody answered.

  2. AARON LACY JR – (Google) “…Go to mainland France (in EUROPE) and knock on the door of one of the Foreign Legion recruiting centers…”

  3. From Nigeria want to join but don’t know if they are still recruiting and if I need green card or what and can I apply anytime I get to France