The IFS full form is Indian Foreign Service. IFS officers are recruited through one of the toughest exams in the country UPSC. An IFS officer is responsible for dealing with India’s external matters like trade, maintaining diplomatic relations as well as exchanging culture at the global level. So, IFS officers represent the country at international platforms. Also, the prospect of such a job profile attracts many aspirants every year. Further, let us tell you about how the UPSC recruits candidates through the Civil Services exam to the Indian Foreign Services.

Also, IFS officers play an important role in framing the Government’s foreign policies and regulating missions abroad. Moreover, Indian Foreign Services is one of the most popular jobs after IAS. In this article, we will tell you all about the IFS – Indian Foreign Service Exam, life of an IFS officer, salary, perks, etc.



What is the Indian Foreign Service?

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The IFS full form is the Indian Foreign Service. It includes diplomacy, trade, and cultural relations. However, the officer is responsible for the framing of policies that govern India’s relations with other countries.

The Indian Foreign Service or IFS is the administrative as well as the diplomatic department of Group A and Group B Central services under the Indian govt. The Indian Foreign Services revolve around a variety of challenges as well as the chance of living in different countries.

IFS Officers – Roles and responsibilities

Indian Foreign Service as the name suggests deals in the external affairs of India. The IFS full form is Indian Foreign Service. An IFS officer has to work towards the following in relation to India –

  1. Maintain diplomatic relationships
  2. Exchange of culture, ideas, policies, and learning from one another
  3. International peace
  4. Put forward Indian interests at the global level
  5. Represent India in the Embassies, High commission, etc.

Indian Foreign Service Exam

The IFS Full Form is Indian Foreign Service. Candidates have to clear the UPSC exam which is the same that is conducted for other services like IAS, IPS, IRS, etc. consists of three rounds of exam/test to recruit candidates into the Group A and Group B Central Services. These are the Prelims exam, Mains exam, and the Interview stage. 

You can prepare for the UPSC exam with the help of a coaching institute. Read about how you can find the best coaching for yourself.


The prelims exam consists of 2 papers. Paper I is based on General Studies and Paper II is based on General Studies (CSAT – Aptitude, Logical reasoning, Analytical Ability, etc. ). Both the papers carry 200 marks and the duration is 2 hours each. But, blind candidates get extra 20 minutes time for each paper. Further, the marks of Paper I are considered while preparing the cut-off marks. However, Paper II is only qualifying in nature. So, candidates have to score 33% to pass this paper.

Also, there is negative marking in both the papers. So, 1/3rd of the allotted marks are deducted for every wrong answer. Further, the question paper is available in both Hindi and English.


The candidates who clear the Prelims cut-off are eligible to appear in the Mains exam. Further, this stage consists of 9 papers. Also out of these, 2 papers are qualifying in nature and the rest 7 papers are counted for merit.

Paper 1 and 2 are the language paper and English paper. Further, these two are qualifying in nature. Moreover, Paper 3 is the Essay paper and Paper 4 to paper 5 are the papers on General Studies. Also, candidates have to choose an Optional subject for Paper 8 and 9. So,UPSC has provided a list of optional subjects that candidates can choose from. The total marks of the Mains paper is 1750.


The last and final stage is the Interview and it carries 275 marks. So, the Interview panel evaluates the personality of the candidate based on their responses, honesty, and even wittiness. To ace the Interview stage, candidates must sit for mock interviews multiple times so that the fear of facing an experienced panel fades away. So, the only important thing that candidates need to keep in mind is that they have to calm and confident about whatever they answer. But, if they do not know the answer to any of the questions, they should be honest about it.

Also, attention should be paid to body posture and try to make eye contact with the members. This further gives the impression that you are paying attention to their questions. Also, candidates should brush up on their general awareness of India and the world at large because a few questions may be related to recent events of current importance.

Read about the perfect strategy to clear the prelims .

Qualities to become an IFS officer

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla I Image source
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Knowledge of India’s policies
  • A diplomatic approach
  • Decision making quality
  • Patience

Pros of Indian Foreign Service

  • An IFS officer gets to be the official representative of the country at the international level.
  • Secondly, the officer gets to travel across the globe for work and also interact with celebrities and also attend VIP parties and shows. In this way, IFS officers get to experience the world and also its different facets.
  • Thirdly, IFS officers enjoy diplomatic immunity.
  • Also, IFS officers get to travel and try out a variety of cuisines from around the world.

Cons of Indian Foreign Service

  • Also, sometimes IFS officers are not allowed to take their family abroad, their place of posting.
  • Also, there are sometimes extremely stressful work in some areas.
  • The biggest drawback of the Indian Foreign Service is that officers spend more than half of their service in a foreign country. So, they are not able to spend time with their family. By the time they come back to India, most of their prime time has been spent away. Although many families move every now and then, not everybody is comfortable doing so. So, it totally depends on the family and the person whether this aspect of the job is acceptable or not.

IFS Officer Salary

The overall salary of an IFS officer is around 60,000 rupees per month. Moreover, officers get special benefits like a house, travel expenses, medical coverage, etc. Further, IFS officers like any other civil servant enjoy pension and various other services.

Apart from this, when IFS officers get a foreign posting, they get paid as high a 2 – 2.5 lakhs per month based on the grade of the city.

Salary Structure

LevelSalary rangeBasic Pay
Junior LevelRs. 15,600 to 39,100Rs. 5400
Senior Time Scale OfficerRs. 15,600 to 39,100Rs. 6600
Junior Administrative LevelRs. 15,600 to 39,100Rs. 7600
Selection Grade level officerRs. 37,400 to 67,000Rs. 8,700
Super Time Scale officerRs. 37,400 to Rs 67,000Rs. 12,000
Apex Pay scale level officerRs. 80,000 
Cabinet SecretaryRs. 90,000 
IFS salary structure

Perks of the Indian Foreign Service

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  • IFS officers also get maroon coloured diplomatic passports when posted in foreign countries.
  • 2 or 3 BHK house
  • Medical Expenses
  • Travel allowances also
  • Water and electricity is almost free of cost
  • Security and House Help
  • Free phone calls
  • Finally, an IFS officer can study abroad and the govt. will bear the expenses.

Eligibility Criteria for IFS

The criteria for sitting in the Indian Foreign Service Exam is as follows –


The candidate must be either of the following:

  • A citizen of India;
  • A Nepalese citizen;
  • A citizen of Bhutan;
  • Also, the candidate can be a Tibetan refugee who came to India but before 1 January 1962 for permanent settlement; or
  • Migrants from any of the specific countries mentioned for permanent settlement in India

Educational Qualification

The candidate should have a bachelor’s degree in any of the streams or a degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university.

Age Limit

The minimum age to apply for this exam is 21 years and the maximum is 30 years. SC/ST candidates can appear for the same till35 years of age. For OBC, it is till 33 years of age. Likewise, the age limit is different for defence candidates, physically handicapped candidates and J&K candidates.

Number of Attempts

The number of attempts vary for different candidates. So, general candidates can sit for the exam 6 times. But, SC/STs can appear unlimited times. The only limit is on their age. Further, OBCs can appear up to 9 attempts.

For more details you can check out the official website of Indian Forest Service.


  1. The selected candidates get training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) located in Mussoorie. The duration of this course is around three to four months.
  2. Later, IFS probationers are sent to the Foreign Service Institute located in New Delhi.
  3. After the training is completed, probationers also receive an on-the-job training in relation to the Division of the Ministry of External Affairs for a period of six months

Learn about the preparation strategy to crack the UPSC

Frequently Asked Questions on Indian Foreign Service

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What is the full form of IFS?

The full form of IFS is Indian Foreign Service. This service offers various perks and benefits. Also, a foreign posting is one of the attractive aspects of this service to many aspiring UPSC candidates.

Does an IFS officer earn more than an IAS officer?

The salary of an IFS officer may be high due to the country of posting. If the IFS officer is posted in a developed country, the salary is naturally higher due to higher allowances and the high standard of living. Also, often IFS officers get higher salary than IAS when they are posted in areas of high political tension. So, the place of posting and the level of risks related to the job also play an important role in deciding the amount of salary of IFS officers.

What is the Indian Foreign Service Exam?

The Indian Foreign Service Exam is none other than the UPSC Civil Services Exam, one of the toughest exam sin the country. Further, IFS is one of the services that a candidate can opt for if they secure the required All India Rank.

COVID-19 Update | Indian Foreign Service

The coronavirus pandemic had turned shifted things abruptly when it arrived in March in India. As a result, lockdowns were imposed and many exams got postponed including the UPSC exam. Candidates were perplexed whether the situation will help them to perform better or if the extra time would be wasted away. But, many realized that this could be a time when candidates could boost their preparation and succeed to become IFS officers. In difficult times like these, one has to keep their hopes high and dedication intact to fulfill their dreams of becoming an IFS officer.


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