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IFS Full Form

Sudeshna chakrabartiUpdated On: September 08, 2023 06:09 pm IST

IFS full form is Indian Foreign Services and is categorized as a ‘Group A’ central service. It is regarded as one of the important wings of the three major arms in India which include IPS, IFS and IAS. An Indian Foreign Service officer is responsible to oversee the country’s external affairs like cultural relations, trade and diplomacy. The Indian missions that are undertaken abroad are managed by an IFS officer. Being an important and highly responsible role, UPSC hires candidates every year, you may find about 17-18 vacancies in this position. 


What is IFS Full Form?

The full form of IFS  is Indian Foreign Services, which is an important wing of India’s civil services. This department is held responsible for carrying out both internal as well as external affairs of India. An IFS officer acts as a representative of the country abroad and helps in strengthening relationships with countries with which India shares a good trading network. 

The Indian Foreign officers serve in 162 international organizations and Indian Diplomatic missions across the globe. The recruitment in IFS is generally organized through the UPSC civil service exams which are conducted each year. The aspirants are required to undergo three rounds of the selection process and this article will offer a detailed insight into the IFS exam, eligibility criteria, job responsibility and salary structure.

IFS- A Quick Overview

IFS Full-form

Indian Foreign Services

IFS Prelim exam date

May 28, 2023

Application form availability

February 1, 2023

No of attempts


Online application issuing website

The Roles and Responsibilities of an IFS Officer

As mentioned earlier IFS full form is Indian Foreign Services and an IFS officer acts as India’s representative in foreign countries. Here are some of the major responsibilities of an IFS officer which will enable you to understand this prestigious position in a better way.

  • An IFS officer forms an effective communication bridge between different stakeholders in India and foreign countries.
  •  They provide detailed reports on major developments abroad which might have a possible impact on India’s policies.
  • The Indian Foreign Services offers consular facilities to Indian citizens residing in foreign countries.
  • Being India’s supreme representative, an IFS officer plays a key role in building, shaping and strengthening economic and diplomatic ties with different countries.
  • IFS officers are appointed in different countries around the world and keep updating the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on significant foreign policy changes.
  • These officers are responsible for negotiating matters related to trade and other economic subjects with the concerned authorities in their respective country of posting. 
  • An IFS officer takes fruitful initiative to develop and maintain economic cooperation between India and different foreign countries. 

Who can Become an IFS Officer?

If you wish to work as an Indian Foreign services officer you need to fulfill certain eligibility requirements. We have mentioned below the essential requirements which will help you get a fair idea of the job position. 

  • The minimum age limit for IFS is between 21 to 32 years at the time of the attempt. In case you belong to SC/ST/OBC categories, resident of Jammu & Kashmir or hail from a defense background then you are eligible to get 5 years of age relaxation.
  • Along with Indian nationals, candidates who are citizens of India’s neighboring countries like Nepal or Bhutan can also apply. Suppose you are a migrant who’s permanently settled in India, you are eligible to apply for IFS. 
  • The applicants must graduate from any recognized university.

Besides meeting eligibility requirements an aspirant must possess the following skills to become an IFS officer.

  • Excellent analytical ability
  • Leadership quality
  • Knowledgeable about India’s relations with foreign nations
  • Good decision-making skill
  • Good grasp of current affairs

Examination Pattern for IFS

The UPSC-organized IFS exam is divided into three stages which include UPSC CS  Prelims, Mains and Interview.

Stage 1-UPSC IFS Prelims

The first stage that will ultimately lead you to the path of becoming an IFS officer is appearing in UPSC CSE Prelim. This exam comprises two papers that are of 200 marks and the total time allotted for each paper is 2 hours. Candidates have to solve multiple-choice questions. Candidates get papers in both languages; Hindi and English.

Stage 2-UPSC IFS Mains

After clearing the prelims, selected candidates will sit for UPSC IFS Mains. Unlike prelims, the mains exam will be of 1750 marks, in fact, the final selection list is prepared based on the marks obtained in mains and the interview. There will be two papers based on English and some compulsory Indian languages and will carry 300 marks respectively, remaining 7 papers will carry 250 marks. Below is a detailed list of papers and mark allotments for your reference.

Compulsory English Paper (300 marks)

Indian language paper (300)

Vocabulary & usage- 50

Translation- 40

Short essay- 100

Short essay- 100

Precis writing- 75

Vocabulary and usage- 40

Reading comprehension- 75

Precis writing- 600

Reading comprehension- 60

Stage 3-Interview

The final stage is an interview which carries 275 marks. During the interview round, candidates are not merely judged on their bookish knowledge rather other aspects like personality, and communication skills are also assessed. Some factors based on which interviewers select candidates include morals, patience, awareness, judgment power and presence of mind.

Is IFS Better Than IAS?

When appearing for the civil services examination, candidates often get confused between two important administration positions which include IAS and IFS officers. Well, both these posts are of critical significance in India's administrative arena. Indian Administrative Service Officers oversee the day-to-day administrative works in India, on the contrary, IFS officers act as foreign diplomats safeguarding the country’s welfare abroad. IFS officers are posted in foreign countries whereas, IAS officers have to work within their sub-divisional headquarters.

After promotion, an IAS officer can become a DM or a collector while an IFS officer takes up the role of an Ambassador or consul general in the long run. IFS officers’ careers become rewarding after serving for at least 12 to 18 years; however, an IAS officer can expect promotion within 5 years. When shifting to a new country, IFS officers need to familiarize themselves with a new language and culture which is the case with an IAS as they work within their country. 

Skills Every IFS Officer Must Possess

IFS officers play a pivotal role in representing India in foreign countries which requires them to possess some important skills. Besides educational qualifications, other necessary skills of an IFS officer have been discussed below:

  • Communication skills

As part of their duty, Indian Foreign Service officers have to undertake negotiations with different stakeholders. Often, these personnel must be active speakers and listed because they need to understand and disseminate information accurately. 

  • Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is another essential skill an IFS must portray. In critical situations, they need to take charge of their emotions and make decisions accordingly. When dealing with issues, they must use their intellect and not emotion.

  • Analytical skills

This is perhaps the most significant skill of an IFS officer. Daily, these officers need to gather huge amounts of information and use logical reasoning in analysing them to reach a consensus. When assessing practical situations, good analytical skills can help them solve complex matters with ease.

Training Requirements for IFS Officers

To become an IFS officer, the aspirants are required to clear examinations and undergo a training session. After successfully appearing in the exam conducted by UPSC, a candidate acts as an IFS probationer. If you intend to start working as an IFS officer, you have to complete training that spans 1 year and 9 months. Initially, an IFS trainee will join LBSNAA (Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration) for 3 months to get the designation of Indian Foreign services trainee.

On completing a three-month training session, the candidates are transferred to a foreign service institute in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University). The probationers are included in the Ministry of External Affairs, which will be for 6 months of on-the-job training. Each trainee is assigned a CFL or Compulsory Foreign Language and allocated to a specific Indian mission whereby they are taught languages like Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, etc.

If you wish to work as a connecting bridge between India and foreign countries then start preparing for the civil service exam. You can rely on online study materials and previous year's question papers to confirm your selection in this prestigious civil service sector. 


Is the IFS exam tough?

As IFS is one of the highest ranking and prestigious positions hence the competition is pretty high which makes this exam a bit tough. 


Who conducts the IFS exam?

The IFS exam is organized by the Union Public Service Commission mainly during May and September, however, it might change.


Is IFS a good career?

Yes, IFS is an exciting, adventurous and opportunistic career option. Aspirants get a chance to travel around the globe and meet celebrities.

What is the salary range of an IFS officer in India?

The salary of an IFS officer in India is around 60,000 INR. This amount varies as per the country an officer is posted.


What does IFS stand for?

IFS full form is Indian Foreign services. It is regarded as the most prestigious position after IAS.