Indian Foreign Service (IFS)

Breif Particulars relating to Indian Foreign Service

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About Indian Foreign Service IFS

The Indian Foreign Service is part of the Central Civil Services of the Government of India. The Foreign Secretary of India is the administrative head of the Indian Foreign Service. It is the body of career diplomats of India. The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) was formed in the year of 1946

How to Apply for Indian Foreign Service IFS ?

A person wish to join IFS must appear for the civil Service Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India. The successful candidates of preliminary examination will be required fill up the main application form. The candidate should mention his first preferred choice of service as Indian Foreign Service IFS. Depending on the Rank in Civil Services Examination, vacancies and Reservation if any, candidates will be allotted services


In recent years, the intake into the Indian Foreign Service has averaged between 8-15 persons annually. The present cadre strength of the service stands at approximately 600 officers manning around 162 Indian missions and posts abroad and the various posts in the Ministry at home.


As a career diplomat, the Foreign Service Officer is required to project India’s interests, both at home and abroad on a wide variety of issues. These include bilateral political and economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, cultural interaction, press and media liaison as well as a whole host of multilateral issues. The functions of an Indian diplomat may be summarized as:

  • Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organisations like UN;
  • Protecting India’s national interests in the country of his/her posting;
  • Promoting friendly relations with the receiving state as also its people, including NRI / PIOs;
  • Reporting accurately on developments in the country of posting which are likely to influence the formulation of India’s policies;
  • Negotiating agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving state; and
  • Extending consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.

At home, Ministry of External Affairs is responsible for all aspects of external relations. Territorial divisions deal with bilateral political and economic work while functional divisions look after policy planning, multilateral organizations, regional groupings, legal matters, disarmament, protocol, consular, Indian Diaspora, press and publicity, administration and other aspects.


On selection to the Indian Foreign Service through the combined Civil Services examination, the new entrants undergo a multi-faceted and comprehensive training programme intended to give them a thorough grounding in diplomatic knowledge, diplomatic qualities and diplomatic skills. The probationers commence their training, together with their colleagues from the other All India Services, at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussourie. Thereafter the probationers join the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi and undergo focused training in the various disciplines that a career diplomat needs to familiarise himself with. The Foreign Service Institute course involves lectures, attachments with various wings of the Government as well as familiarisation tours both within the country and abroad. The aim of this course is to inculcate in the diplomatic recruit a strong sense of history, knowledge of diplomacy and international relations and a grasp of general economic and political principles.

At the conclusion of the training programme the officer is assigned his/her compulsory foreign language (CFL). After a brief period of desk attachment in the Ministry of External Affairs the officer is posted to an Indian Mission abroad in a country where his CFL is the native language and enrolled in a language course. The officer is expected to develop proficiency in his CFL and pass the requisite examination before he is confirmed in service.


A Foreign Service Officer begins his career abroad as a Third Secretary and is promoted to Second Secretary as soon as he is confirmed in service. Subsequent promotions are to the levels of First Secretary, Counsellor, Minister and Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative. Officers can also be posted to Indian Consulates abroad where the hierarchy (going upwards) is Vice-Consul, Consul and Consul General.

The hierarchy at the Ministry of External Affairs includes 6 stages: Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary.


Pay scales

Designation in Field

Designation in Headquarters

Junior time scale


Attaché / Third secretary

Under secretary

Senior time scale


Second / First secretary

Under secretary

Junior administrative grade


First secretary

Deputy secretary

Selection grade IV



Counselor Director

Senior administrative grade


Minister/DCM Ambassador

Joint secretary


Ambassador/high Commissioner

Additional secretary

26000 (fixed)

Ambassador/High Commissioner


a) appointment will be made on probation for a period of two years which may be extended. Successful candidates will be required to pursue a course of training in India for approximately eighteen months. Thereafter they will be posted as Third Secretaries or Vice Consuls in Indian Missions abroad. During their period of training the probationers will be required to pass one or ore departmental examinations before they become eligible for confirmation in Service.

b) On the conclusion of his period of probation to the satisfaction of the government and on his passing the prescribed examination, the Probationer is confirmed in his appointment. if however, his work or conduct has in the opinion of the Government been unsatisfactory, Government may either discharge him from the Service or may extend his period of probation for such period, as they may think fit , or may revert him to his substantive post, if any

c) If in the opinion of Government, the work or conduct of an officer on probation is unsatisfactory or shows that he is not likely to prove suitable for the Foreign service, Government may either discharge him forthwith or may revert him to his substantive post, if any

d) Scale of Pay

** Salary Revision since 2002 is not mentioned in this scale

Junior Scale – Rs. 8,000-275-13,500

Officers appointed to the Indian Foreign Service shall be eligible for appointment to the Senior scale ( Rs. 10,650-325-15,850) and Junior Administrative Grade ( Rs. 12,750-375-16,500) on completion of four years and in the 9th year of service respectively.

In addition there are posts in the Selection Grade, Super time Scale and above carrying pay between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 26,000 to which IFS officers are eligible for promotion.

c) A probationer will receive the following pay during probation. First year – Rs. 8000 per mensem

Second year – Rs 8275 per mensem

Note 1 - A probationer will be permitted to count the period spent on probation towards leave, pension or increment in the time scale.

Note 2 - Annual increments during probation will be contingent on the probationer passing the prescribed test if any and showing progress to the satisfaction of Government. Increments can also be earned in advance by passing the departmental examination.

Note 3: - The Pay of the Government servant, who held a permanent post other than a tenure post in substantive capacity prior to his appointment as a probationer, will be regulated subject to the provisions of F.R.22-B(i).

f) An officer belonging to the Indian Foreign Service will be liable to serve anywhere in or outside India.

g) During service abroad I.F.S. Officers are granted foreign allowance according to their status to compensate them for the increased cost of living and of servants and also to meet the special responsibilities in regard to entertainment

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