How to Become an IFS Officer

IFS stands for Indian Foreign Service. It is a part of Civil Services of Government of India. In this article, you will be reading about the topic – how to become an IFS officer in India.

IFS Officer

If you want to become an IFS officer, this article will be of help to you. This article has been crafted keeping the needs of Civil Service aspirants in mind. Here, you’ll find the steps involved in becoming an IFS officer.


There are many Civil Services, which are pillars of the Government of India. Here’s a list of Civil Services in India –


Group A Services

  • Indian Administrative Service
  • Indian Police Service
  • India Foreign Service
  • Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
  • Indian Postal Service
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • Indian Railway Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force
  • Indian Defence Estates Service
  • Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)
  • Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ (Gr. III)
  • Indian Corporate Law Service

Group B Services

  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service
  • Pondicherry Civil Service
  • Pondicherry Police Service


Among these Civil Services, IFS is a very popular choice among Civil Service aspirants. The nature of work, opportunity to work at Foreign countries and the exposure that this job gives – these are the main factors responsible for the popularity that IFS enjoys among aspirants!


IFS is one of the most preferred choice among Civil Service aspirants (after IAS and IPS). This is the main reason why only candidates with decent ranks (in Civil Service exam) get selected for IFS training!


IFS officers don important roles in the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs), PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) and Indian Embassies from around the world. IFS Officers are responsible for managing foreign relations of India. They are also tasked with conducting Diplomacy and maintaining Diplomatic relations with other Countries.


In short, it is a challenging and immensely satisfying profession. IFS officers also get to enjoy good salary package and additional benefits (such as housing, pension, medical benefits etc). It is an influential post that commands respect in the society.



How to become an IFS Officer?

Becoming an IFS officer is not an easy task. It is a challenging and demanding job. Only the best candidates are selected to this post.


In order to select these deserving candidates, Government of India has tasked UPSC with the task of conducting CIvil Services examination.


IFS Examination

In order to become an IFS officer, a candidate must crack the tough Civil Services examination. UPSC is the body that conducts this examination.


Civil Services Examination (CSE): Details

Civil Services examination is ranked among the toughest examinations in the world. The exam is conducted once each year. The entire exam spans over a period of one year!


The Civil Services examination consists of three main parts. They are –

  • Preliminary examination
  • Mains examination
  • Interview


Each year, Lakhs of candidates appear for Civil Services preliminary examination. Among them, only handful of candidates are selected for the mains examination.


The first stage of CSE is preliminary examination. Preliminary examination consists of objective type papers (general studies and aptitude test). Candidates who clear preliminary examination are called to appear for mains examination.


The second stage of CSE is mains examination. It consists of nine papers. Candidates who manage to clear this examination are called to appear for the Interview. The final stage of CSE is interview.


Eligibility Criteria

If you want to become an IFS officer, you must crack CSE. In order to appear for CSE, you must satisfy some requirements. Here they are –


Educational qualifications required

All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualifications:

  • A degree from a Central, State or a Deemed university.
  • A degree received through correspondence or distance education.
  • A degree from an open university.
  • A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above.


The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam:

  • Candidates who have appeared in an examination, the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
  • A degree from a private university.
  • A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.


Age Limit

  • The candidate must be between the age of 21-32 years (for the General category candidate) on August 1 of the year of examination. However, age relaxations dies exist for SC, ST, OBC and Physically Handicapped candidates.
  • For Other Backward Castes (OBC) the upper age limit is 35.
  • For Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), the limit is 37 years.
  • The upper age limit is relaxed for certain candidates who are backward with respect to other factors and physically handicapped (PH) people.



For the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, the candidate must be a citizen of India.


For other services, the candidate must be one of the following:

  • A citizen of India.
  • A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan.
  • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.


IFS posts and career growth

Candidates selected to undergo training are first trained at LBSNAA, Mussoorie. After completing a 15 week training session at LBSNAA, candidates join the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi.


At FSI, they are trained in areas such as –

  • International Relations Theory
  • Military Diplomacy
  • Trade
  • History
  • India’s Foreign Policy
  • International Law
  • Diplomatic Practice


Posting: At an embassy, an IFS Officer is inducted as ‘Third Secretary’, which is an entry level post. With time, he/she may get promoted to higher posts such as – Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counsellor, Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission/Deputy High Commissioner/Deputy Permanent Representative and Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative.


At MEA, they are inducted as Assistant Secretary/Under Secretary. With time, they may get promoted to higher posts such as – Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Secretary and Foreign Secretary of India.


Also check out the following career guides – IAS Officer, IPS Officer & Best Careers in India.

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