Indian Foreign Service (IFS): Roles & Responsibilities, Training, Salary, Perks

Indian Foreign Services (IFS) is one of the top Civil Services of the country. Recruited through the UPSC Civil Services exam, these officers work as diplomats upon completion of the training. In this article, we have provided details on the roles, and responsibilities, training, salary, perks associated with Indian Foreign Service.

Indian Foreign Service (IFS): Roles & Responsibilities, Training, Salary, Perks
Indian Foreign Service (IFS): Roles & Responsibilities, Training, Salary, Perks

To become an IFS or Indian Foreign Services officer, aspirants must appear for the civil services examination conducted by UPSC every year. Candidates must clear each round of the exam - Prelims, Mains and Interview, and acquire a recommendation from UPSC to get appointed as an IFS officer. The IFS is a sought-after tag both for the benefits a diplomat enjoys and the unique challenges it poses. Let’s have a look at the key milestones in the process of becoming an IFS officer.

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Indian Foreign Service (IFS) - Recruitment 

An aspirant can join the Indian Foreign Services (IFS) by clearing all the three stages of the exam. In general, there are 30-35 vacancies for IFS every year. Let’s have a look at the vacancy distribution in IFS in the last 5 years. 

Shiv Khera







No. of IFS Vacancies






There are fewer vacancies for the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) as compared to other highly popular services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Revenue Service (IRS). A candidate needs to secure a top rank to be eligible for Foreign Services. 

Indian Foreign Service (IFS) - Training

The total training period for IFS Officer Trainees in India is around one year, comprising of:      

Foundation Course: Foundation Course is organized by Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBNAA), Mussoorie for IFS Officer Trainees along with other civil servants selected by UPSC through Civil Services Examination. The duration of the Course is around three and a half months. As the Officer Trainees are fresh entrants into the administrative system, the focus is on familiarizing them with the environment of political, economic, social, and administrative issues.

Induction Training Programme: Induction Training Programme is organized at the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSIFS), New Delhi. It equips the IFS Officer Trainees with requisite knowledge and skills to shoulder the responsibilities and challenges of an Indian diplomat in the 21st century. The total duration of the program at SSIFS is around six months.

Desk Attachment: Following the Induction Training Programme, IFS Officer Trainees are deployed in Divisions of the Ministry for a period of around two months with an objective to familiarize them with the functioning of the Ministry. During this period, Officer Trainees are given exposure to functions and hands-on experience under the supervision of senior officers. This is preparatory to their posting in Missions abroad to study the Compulsory Foreign Language (CFL) allocated to each IFS Officer Trainee.

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Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Roles & Responsibilities

An IFS officer works in co-ordination with the Ministry of External Affairs. 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 organizations 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.

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Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Promotions & Ranks

Upon completion of training, an IFS officer works with the MEA and can be posted within the ministry in India or on special missions in foreign nations. Following is the promotion chain in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).


At an Indian Mission in Foreign Nation

At MEA Headquarters, India

1. Third Secretary (Language Trainee)

2. Second Secretary

3. First Secretary

4. Counselor



1. Attaché

2. Under Secretary

3. Deputy Secretary

4. Director

5. Joint Secretary

6. Additional Secretary

7. Secretary

(The Highest Post under IFS is the Foreign Secretary, who serves from India).

Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Salary and Payscale

The salary and perks of an IFS officer are very different from other Civil Servants. Apart from the salary, IFS officers would be given a Special Foreign Allowance. This amount varies with the country of posting. For example, when a new officer is assigned to the Indian mission in the USA, he/she can get the US $4000 per month. This allowance increases with the grade.

Post (in India)

Post (Abroad)


Under Secretary

Attaché/Third Secretary


Under Secretary

Second/First Secretary


Deputy Secretary

First Secretary


Counselor Director



Joint Secretary

Minister/DCM Ambassador


Additional Secretary

Ambassador/High Commissioner



Ambassador/High Commissioner

26000 (Fixed)

IFS officers also enjoy accommodation facilities, household help, official vehicles, security guards, abroad study options and retirement benefits, and pension.

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