UPSC Civil Services: Everything you need to know about Indian Foreign Service (IFS)

Indian Foreign Service

Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is one of the Group ‘A’ Central Service in organised civil service of India. IFS provides officer cadre for India’s diplomatic missions. Ministry of External Affairs is the Cadre Controlling Authority.


IFS officers are recruited through two of the following modes:

    • Direct recruitment through civil service exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
    • On promotion from Group ‘B’ services. Selection for which is conducted by Staff Selection Commission. Through this one can reach the level of Joint Secretary in the Ministry.

Hierarchy of officers in IFS is as follows:

Designation in Ministry Designation in High   Commission/ Embassy
Foreign Secretary High Commissioner/ Ambassador/ Permanent Representative
Secretary Deputy Chief of Mission/ Deputy High Commissioner/ Deputy Permanent   Representative
Additional Secretary Minister
Joint Secretary Counsellor
Director First Secretary
Deputy Secretary Second Secretary
Assistant Secretary/ Under Secretary Third Secretary

 *Pay scale is at par with other Central services like Indian Revenue Service (IRS) 

Role of IFS officers:

    • Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organisations like UN. Negotiating agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving state
    • 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.
    • In the Ministry, 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.