How to become an Indian Ambassador or an IFS Officer: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2021

Union Public Service Commission conducts Civil Services Exam every year and the candidates who desire to become an Indian Ambassador have to take this UPSC exam. The Indian Foreign Service is a Central Service and the chief diplomatic service in India. The Indian Foreign Service is all about the country’s external affairs, comprising diplomacy, trade, and cultural relations.

The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is a part of the Central Services of India. An Indian ambassador or IFS position is a sought-after role both – for the monetary benefits and the lifestyle of a diplomat and also for the unique challenges this profile poses.

The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is the role of administration, diplomat civil service under the Group A & Group B. It is one of the prestigious Central Civil Services of the executive branch of the GoI. The members of the IFS Community represent the country in international territory.

The IFS, unlike any other civil services, deals with the country’s external affairs like diplomacy, trade and cultural relations. The IFS is responsible for developing the Government’s foreign policies and management of Indian missions abroad.

UPSC Civil Services Exam

Phase 1: CSE Preliminary exam (Objective Type)
Phase 2: CSE Main Exam (Descriptive Type)
Phase 3: CSE Personal Interview (Personality Test)

Learn more about the IFS Exam by visiting this link.

Eligibility Criteria to be an Indian Ambassador

1. Nationality: The nationality of candidates must be either of the following: 

  • India Citizen
  • The subject of Nepal (SoN)
  • The subject of Bhutan (SoB)
  • A Tibetan refugee who came to India for permanent settlement.
  • Migrants from any of the following countries for permanently settling: Pakistan, Burma, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam.

2. Educational Qualification: Candidates who wish to become an Indian Ambassador should hold a degree from any of the recognized universities or must have an equivalent qualification.

Skills Required

  • Decision-making skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent knowledge about International markets, foreign nations and current affairs
  • Leadership ability
  • Good analytical ability

Age Limit

  • Minimum age: 21 years
  • Maximum age: 30 years as on the 1st of August in the year of examination.

The number of attempts allowed:

The maximum number of attempts allowed is as follows:

  • For General Category Candidates: Seven attempts
  • For Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) candidates: No restriction
  • Other Backward Class candidates: 9 attempts

Roles and Responsibilities of an IFS Officer or an Indian Ambassador

An IFS officer deals with diplomacy, trade and cultural relations of the country.


  • He/she should represent India in its embassies, high commissions, consulates and multilateral organizations.
  • They should protect India’s national interests in the country where the officer is posted.
  • They should improve and promote the friendship between India and the country that the officer is posted.
  • Including non-resident Indians or person of Indian origin.
  • It should be informative about the developments in the foreign country that could affect and benefit India’s policy by mutually helping each other.
  • The role of IFS officers is a promising and challenging one, yet still, it attracts the business-minded people.
  • The candidate should be aware of the international markets and businesses to represent India professionally on international forums and platforms.
  • In the countries, they are appointed, as an IFS officer is thus an essential thread for India who plays a very promising/influential role in shaping/developing Indian foreign policy and in building all diplomatic and economic relationships with other countries.
  • An Indian Ambassador is expected to handle and manage all diplomatic relationships between India and of the country they are appointed.
  • To create, co-create and maintain economic cooperation between India and other countries.
  • To continually keep updating the Indian MEA office, about recent developments. 

Note- To get an overview of the exam’s nature and the eligibility criteria- click on the below-mentioned topic/link- UPSC CSE eligibility criteria.

P.S. – You can create notes to remember all the critical aspects of the IFS Exam. You can also check the official UPSC IFS Exam notification with the help of below-mentioned link- -notification.

The ranks in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) while abroad at an Indian Mission/Post

  • Third Secretary (Language Trainee)
  • Second Secretary
  • First Secretary
  • Counsellor (After 13 years of service)
  • Minister (After 17 years of service)
  • Ambassador

The ranks in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) while in India at MEA Headquarters

  • Attaché
  • Under Secretary
  • Deputy Secretary (9 years of service)
  • Director (13 years of service)
  • Joint Secretary (17 years of service)
  • Additional Secretary
  • Secretary

Careers of an Indian Ambassador

The Foreign Service (IFS) Officers begins their careers abroad as a Third Secretary and is promoted to Second Secretary as soon as he/she is confirmed in the service. Subsequent promotions are to the levels of First Secretary, Counsellor, Minister and Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative.

An Indian Ambassador 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 six stages: Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary.


The functions of an Indian diplomat may be summarized as follows:

  • Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organizations like U.N.;
  • 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;
  • An Indian Ambassador will be negotiating agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving state; and
  • Extending consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.

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


In this article, we are discussing the nature and facts about IFS officer or an Indian Ambassador and how to become one. IFS officer’s job is very reputed, and it includes a great deal of responsibilities as they represent India as Ambassadors. While discussing the roles and responsibilities- we touch upon the facts like- the posts and career aspects of an IFS officer, etc.

Areas covered in this article

  • What is an IFS officer?
  • How to become an Indian Ambassador?
  • Their roles and responsibility
  • Exam criteria
  • Ranks, etc.

Start your Civil Service journey, read up on this link to know more about the UPSC Civil Service Exam forms and process.