Friday, October 7, 2011

Certificat Medical Sportif - Why?

I’ve just signed my kids up for their new after school activities for the year.  James and Luc are doing Judo.  Not sure this is such a great idea and hope they don’t practice on each other, but we’ll give it a go.  Frankie's signed up for dancing - she’s just turned 4 and has been looking forward to starting for a year.

In France, enrollment for activities is usually in September and you pay up front for the whole year.  Its an expensive time, especially when you have 3 little ones.  There are lots of papers to fill in of course, this is France.  Luc and James even have to apply for a licence to do judo.  A licence?  Why?  You just fill in a form, pay 34 euros and they give you a piece of paper which says Licence on it.  What is the point?  Just more paperwork and another way of making money!  I can understand perhaps for adults, but for children???

BUT, the most annoying thing about the whole process is that to do any activity, your child needs a ‘Certificat Medical Sportif’ from the doctor.  What’s that all about?  Do they think I don’t know if my child is healthy enough to do an after school sport?  What do they think is going to happen?  Perhaps they think Frankie will faint when she points her toe, or Luc will pass out on the judo mat?  It’s quite ridiculous and another example of “That’s just what we do here and we’ve always done it that way”.

What really annoys me is that it’s not easy for me to get to the doctors to get the certificates.  The surgery is open from 4pm – 6pm and I work till 6pm.  Even if I leave work early, there is no appointment system and unless you get there by 3.30, you’ll be waiting at least a couple of hours.  Have you ever waited in a doctors waiting room with 3 little ones – it’s not fun!  Then, when we do get in there he’ll listen to their heart rate, make them jump up and down a bit, listen to their heart again, sign a bit of paper – an that will be 66 euros please!  Ok, I’ll get it back eventually, but it all seems so pointless!

So, I’d geared myself up to go, got Gary to cover the shop, aimed to get to the surgery by 5.45, hoping everyone would nearly be gone and I wouldn’t have to wait too long, only to find..... it was closed!  There was a small sign on the door saying “Surgery will be closed Tuesday afternoon, but open again on Wednesday”  Ahhhhhhh!!!  It’s like that in rural France – get over it!

Now, I’m going to have to make another special trip this evening – hope they’re not closed again!   I think I might get him to sign some certificates for next year too – do you think he will?  Probably.  Everyone knows its a pointless exercise!  

This post is linked to the Expat Blog hop over at Tales from Windmill Fields.  This weeks topic was Why?


  1. Blimey, I thought Spain loved it's paperwork!

  2. Oh no, I think France must win the European prize for "Pointless Paperwork". They love it!

  3. While I will never deny that the French administration loves pointless paperwork, I'm not sure what the problem is here.

    To be able to practice any sport, it's all natural to have a doctor's approval for obvious reasons, isn't it?

    Isn't it the same in every Western country?

  4. Yes I suppose your right David, it is natural to have a doctors approval, but any health defect should be picked up in the many checks that children have regularly throughout the their life. For this certificate to be issued the doctor literally just listened to their heart and chest and then gave me a certificate. It is just a paper exercise.

    My 2 eldest sons were brought up in England and did various after school activities including Karate, football, rugby and tennis and were never once asked for a Health Certificate. I left England 7 years ago, so maybe it's change now (but I don't think so). I'm not sure about other countries.

  5. I think Health certificates only belong in France and Spain, never heard about them anywhere else. In Spain you need to get one before you can start taking your driving lessons and test!.
    Thanks for linking up, going to have a wander round your blog :)

  6. Ed has done Judo for the last 3 years and our doctor is a star as for the 2nd year she checked his medical records for the year and signed the paperwork without the need for an appointment (or a fee!!!).

  7. We needed the medical certificate for schooling in Spain too, the Dr did it for us easily but we had problems finding a Dr who would see us for it for some reason. It was written on a beautiful large cardboard certificate so its now something nice to go in the memory collection of our time in Spain.

    Thanks so much for your comments on my post about my little boys' missed SIDS. I am sorry it took so long to respond..I only just noticed it was comments to moderate today.

  8. Hi Nikki,

    I just found your blog googling medical certificate. My husband and I want to participate in a run that goes through France and we just found out about this certificate requirement. Really quite crazy if you ask me.

    Anyway, as someone who's done this already, I had a small question. Does this certificate cover all sports or do you need to get a certificate for each one, tennis, running, basketball. Not that I'm a fitness fanatic (I could stand to loose a few pounds) but on the off chance that I want to take up rock climbing, will I have to go back to the doctor?

    Thanks for any help,

    1. Hi Natasha, we just had to get 2 different certificates for each of our boys who both wanted to do Judo and Football. The clubs provided us with the forms they wanted the doctor to sign. The doctor will normally ask you what sport you want to do and then will say that you're fit to carry out that sport. I agree, it is crazy, but that's France! It will of course cost you for each doctors visit, so best to get it done in one hit. You also can't claim this money back so best to get it when you need to see the doctor about something else too.