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Health For Members

Why you need a medical certificate to play sport in France

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Why you need a medical certificate to play sport in France
Taking up a new sport in France may involve a medical check-up. Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP

If you plan to take up a sport or join an exercise class in France, you may be surprised to learn that there’s more to it than simply rocking up and asking to join in.

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Every year - usually in early September - sports clubs and associations in a particular area gather at a convenient location, such as the Parc Expo, to attract new members. 

This is the time you’ll learn all about the registration process, membership fees which can be several hundred euros a year (but cover the bulk of the cost of the whole year), and whether you’ll need a medical certificate.

That’s right. A medical certificate. From a doctor. 

Legally, you don’t necessarily need one to practise a sport - you definitely don’t need one for a kickabout with friends at the park, or for a leisurely swim at the local pool, for example. 

On the other hand, it may be a requirement of any club you wish to join, or in order to get a licence from the sports body (federation) to which it belongs.

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Some exercise classes may also ask for a medical certificate and you'll certainly need one if you want to enter any kind of public sports event such as a marathon, half-marathon or triathlon. 

How often you need to provide one depends on the sport. Some are annual requirements - necessitating that trip to your doctor every year - others may last a number of years.

Sports that have annual requirements include; mountaineering, scuba diving, caving; parachuting; rugby union, rugby league and sevens rugby; combat sports such as boxing; sports involving the use of firearms or compressed air weapons; karting, motor cycling, motor racing; aerobatics and gliding.

The certificate is officially known as a Certificat médical attestant de l'absence de contre-indication à la pratique du sport (medical certificate testifying to the absence of contra-indications against practising sport) and it can be issued by any généraliste, or certain specialists like cardiologists.

If your regular doctor is busy you can go to any doctor to get one of these - it doesn't have to be your registered médecin traitant.

The exact procedure at the doctor's varies - some doctors are happy to just give you a quick check-up, others might demand a more thorough examination or even a stress test such as running on the treadmill. It largely depends on the individual doctor as well as your general health and exactly how strenuous the sport you want to do it. 

The government has developed an online simulator to help you find out if you need a medical certificate and how long it lasts before it needs renewing.

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