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Indian Foreign Services (IFS)

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Indian Foreign Services (IFS)

Updated: Jan 9, 2024

The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is the administrative diplomatic civil service of the Central Civil Services of the executive branch of the Government of India. It is one of the two premier Civil Services (other being IAS) It is a Central Civil service as Foreign policy is the subject matter and prerogative of Union Government. IFS holds the offices for positions of Ambassador, High Commissioner, Consul General, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations and Foreign Secretary, etc. 

IFS Eligibility Criteria

As the exam is conducted by the Union Public Commission (UPSC) of India, the eligibility criteria for entry into IFS is the same as that of IAS.
To attempt an IFS exam, the candidate must be accompanied to certain rules which are as follows:

Nationality and Age

The candidate must be a citizen of India and of age 21 years (minimum to 3 years (maximum).


The candidate must possess a degree of a recognized University of India. Candidates who have appeared or are appearing for the qualifying examination and are awaiting results can also appear for the Preliminary Examination. All those candidates who qualify for the Civil Services Main Examination must be able to present the proof of having passed the said examination along with their application for the Main Examination.


The number of attempts for the IFS exam is restricted to 6 for the general category candidates. However, there are some relaxations in the age limits and number of attempts for other category candidates.

IFS Exam Schedule

The preliminary IFS exam is conducted on a Sunday in the middle of the year (during one day) while the Main IFS exam is conducted in the month of November-December in 2 sessions (morning & evening) during a span of 5 days. The official dates are announced online by the UPSC.

IFS Exam Pattern

IFS exam like other civil services exam is conducted in two phases - the Preliminary examination, which consists of two objective type papers (General Studies and Aptitude Test) and the Main examination which consists of 9 subjective papers (essay type) that is followed by the last phase of Personality Test (Interview). There is negative marking of 1/3 for each wrong answer in the preliminary exam. The preliminary exam is of 2 hours duration (for each paper) with a weightage of 200 marks for each paper. The IFS exam is set both in English and Hindi language.

IFS Exam Syllabus

IFS exam is divided into two parts which are as follows:

Preliminary Exam

Paper-I of IFS preliminary exam is based on knowledge of subjects like Current events of national and international importance, History of India, Indian-World Geography, Indian Politics & Governance, Economic & Social Development, Environmental Ecology and General Science.

Paper-II is based on knowledge of subjects like Comprehension, Communication skills, Logical reasoning & Analytical ability, Decision-making, Basic numeracy, Data Interpretation and English Language skills.

Mains exam

IFS main exam consists of the following papers-
Qualifying Papers:
Paper A- anyone Indian Language as selected by the candidate (300 Marks)
Paper B- English (300 Marks)
Papers (counted for merit)
Paper I-VII are of 250 marks each
Paper-I - Essay
Paper-II General Studies (Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society)
Paper-III General Studies (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
Paper-IV General Studies  (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
Paper-V General Studies (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)
Paper-VI Optional Subject - Paper 1
Paper-VII Optional Subject - Paper 2
Sub Total (Written test) - 1750 Marks
Personality Test - 275 Marks
Grand Total - 2025 Marks

IFS Future Prospects

As a career diplomat, the Foreign Service Officer is obligatory to plan India’s interests, both at home and abroad on an extensive range of issues. These include both political and economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, cultural interaction, press, and media connection as well as a whole host of polygonal issues. On the higher scale, many I.F.S. Officers become Ambassadors of medium-sized countries. In the Additional Secretaries Grade, I.F.S. Officers are made ambassadors in relatively big embassies of Deputy High Commissioner in London. The Indian Foreign Service bears the merit of giving India its- President, Vice President, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Foreign Minister and many distinguished Statesmen in past and present.

IFS Official Website





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