IAS Eligibility

Lakhs of candidates take the UPSC civil services every year in the hope of making it into the coveted civil services of the country. Candidates must satisfy certain eligibility conditions if they wish to take the IAS exam. There are conditions of nationality, age and educational qualification which candidates must satisfy. These are described below in this article.

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UPSC Eligibility Criteria

The IAS eligibility criteria are explained under four headings:

  1. Nationality
  2. Age Limit
  3. Number of Attempts
  4. Educational Qualification

UPSC Nationality Criteria

Nationality criteria for Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS):

  • Candidate must be a citizen of India

Nationality criteria for all other services:

  • Candidate must be either:
    • a citizen of India, or (A)
    • a subject of Nepal, or (B)
    • a subject of Bhutan, or (C)
    • a Tibetan refugee who came to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or (D)
    • a person of Indian origin (PIO) who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zaire and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India. (E)

The candidates belonging to categories (B), (C), (D) and (E) should furnish a certificate of eligibility issued by the Government of India. Such candidates may take the exam before getting the said certificate of eligibility, but he/she would get the offer of appointment only after the certificate has been issued by the Government of India. Candidates belonging to (B), (C) and (D) are not eligible for appointment to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).

UPSC Age Criteria

The candidate must have attained the age of 21 years as of 1st August of the year in which the exam would be held. This means, for the UPSC 2021 exam, the candidate must be 21 years as of 1st August 2021.

The upper age limit for the IAS exam is 32 years. This means the candidate must not have attained the age of 32 years as of 1st August 2021 for the forthcoming IAS exam. (Not earlier than 2nd August 1989 and not later than 1st August 2000.)

Note: For UPSC 2020, the minimum age would have been 21 as of 1st August 2020, and the maximum age been 32, falling between 2nd August 1988 and 1st August 1999.

Of course, there are age relaxations for candidates belonging to the reserved categories. They are discussed below in the table.

Category Relaxation Upper Age Limit
General No relaxation 32
Other Backward Class (OBC) Up to 3 years 35
Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) Up to 5 years 37
Defence Service Personnel disabled during service Up to 3 years 35
Ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least 5 years military service as on 1st August 2021 and have been released * Up to 5 years 37
Visually challenged/hearing impaired/physically challenged candidates Up to 10 years 42

* – such candidates on completion of assignment (including those whose assignment would complete within one year from 1st August 2021) other than those who have been dismissed or discharged on account of misconduct or inefficiency. Also, includes those servicemen who have been released due to physical disability attributable to military service; and also who have been released owing to invaliding.

Points to note:-

  1. For the 2021 examination, the candidates who had exhausted their last attempt in 2020; have been given an extra attempt to sit in CSE 2021; on the account of COVID-19. It is only a one-time relaxation. The exemption is not for someone who is age-barred from taking IAS Exam.
  2. Candidates belonging to SC/ST/OBC who also fall under the category of ex-servicemen/physically or visually challenged/hearing impaired will be eligible for a grant of cumulative age relaxation under both categories.
  3. The term ex-servicemen are as defined in the Ex-servicemen (Re-employment in Civil Services and Posts) Rules, 1979.
  4. Ex-servicemen and Commissioned Officers including ECOs/SSCOs who are released on their own will not be eligible for the age concession as explained above.
  5. Physically disabled candidates will have to satisfy the requirements of physical and medical standards for the concerned posts/services after examination by the Government or appointing authority.
  6. The proof of date of birth/age is the matriculation or secondary school leaving certificate, or a certificate recognized by an Indian University as equivalent to matriculation.
  7. These certificates should be submitted only while applying for the UPSC mains exam.
  8. No other certificate like horoscopes, affidavits, birth extracts from Municipal Corporation, service records would be accepted as proof of age.
  9. While entering the DOB online at the time of applying for the UPSC prelims exam, make sure that it matches with the dates in the matriculation certificate. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken against the candidate by the Commission.

UPSC Number of Attempts Criteria

The number of times candidates are permitted to take the IAS exam is given in the below table:

Category Number of Attempts
General 6
SC/ST No restriction
Physically Handicapped (General) 9
Physically Handicapped (OBC) 9
Physically Handicapped (SC/ST) No restriction

Points to note:-

  • If a candidate appears for the UPSC prelims exam, it will be deemed as one attempt.
  • If a candidate clears the UPSC prelims, he/she will be eligible for appearing for the UPSC mains of that year only.
  • Even if a candidate’s candidature is disqualified or cancelled, his/her taking the exam will be counted as one attempt.
  • A candidate who is appointed to the IAS/IFS (Foreign Service) on the basis of the result of an earlier civil service exam and continues to be a member of that service will not be eligible to apply for this exam. If such a candidate is given such appointment after taking the 2021 prelims exam, he/she will not be permitted to take the mains exam of 2021. Also, if such a candidate is appointed to the IAS/IFS after taking the UPSC mains 2020 but before the announcement of the results, then he/she will not be considered for appointment on the basis of 2020 mains exam.

UPSC Educational Qualification Criteria

  • The candidate must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university to take the UPSC exam.
  • Even those candidates who have written the final year exams of the qualifying exam (bachelor’s degree) and are awaiting results can apply. Also, candidates who would write the final exam are also eligible to apply for the IAS prelims exam. But, these candidates must produce proof of passing the exam while applying for the IAS mains exam.
  • In exceptional cases, the UPSC may allow a candidate who does not fall under the aforementioned categories if the candidate has passed an exam conducted by other institutions, the standard of which the UPSC is convinced justifies his/her admission to take the UPSC exam.
  • Those candidates with professional/technical qualifications which are recognized by the Government as equivalent to professional/technical degrees are also eligible.
  • MBBS candidates who have not yet completed their internship by the time of applying for the UPSC Mains will be given a provisional admission to take the mains, provided they submit a copy of the certificate from the concerned University/institution authority that they have passed the requisite final professional medical examination. At the time of the interview, such candidates will have to produce a certificate from the University/institution stating that they have completed all the requirements (including completion of internship) for the award of the medical degree.

The UPSC Notification 2021 will carry all the eligibility-related details for the recruitment this year.

Candidates who are eligible to sit for the examination may refer to the UPSC Online Application 2021 for application procedure-related information.

FAQ about IAS/UPSC Eligibility

What is the UPSC exam age limit for BC?

For UPSC 2021, a candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on the 1st of August 2021 i.e., the candidate must have been born not earlier than 2nd August 1989 and not later than 1st August 2000. The upper age limit prescribed will be relaxed up to a maximum of three years in the case of candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes who are eligible to avail of the reservation applicable to such candidates.

Is there any physical test for IAS?

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards for admission to Civil Services Examination, 2021 as per guidelines given in Rules for Examination published in the Gazette of India.

For further details on the UPSC eligibility, such as IAS eligibility for general/IAS eligibility for SC/ST, and other details, please go through the links given below:

Eligibility Criteria For UPSC Exam UPSC Age Limit for General Category
UPSC Age Limit for SC and ST Category UPSC Optional Subjects Syllabus


  1. Useful information. .

  2. Helpful information

  3. Thanks for valuable information

  4. Thank you sir for providing me such an useful and valuable study material and platform to get improved

  5. Thanks for valuable information

  6. Thanks for valuable information Sir

  7. Nice job


  9. Dear sir,

    My date of birth is in 1986 May 26, (OBC), Is it possible to attempt for UPSC

    1. Hi Surabhy
      The age relaxation provided to OBC Category is of 3 years. Hence, maximum age limit is 35 years (As on 1st August of the year of examination) for candidates belonging to OBC category. You can sit for UPSC 2021. Refer to our Free IAS Prep page to keep up your preparation.

  10. Sir Mai 11th me hu (science subject) aur upsc (IFS) banana chahta hu. Graduation me kon sa subject choose karu aur kon sa college choose karu plz help

    1. Hi Saurabh,

      You can check this page for the list of optional subjects in UPSC.

      Regarding educational qualification, you will have to complete a Bachelor’s Degree from any stream, from any recognized college/University.

  11. sir i am studying in class 9 ,and i like to start my preparation for upsc , which all are the books that will really help me now ?

    1. Hi Devika
      For now, you can focus on NCERT books only. You can get complete list of NCERT Booklist from the linked article.

  12. Hello sir,
    I have completed my graduation degree with b. com. but i don’t want to keep commerce as my optional subjects. Is it possible to score good marks in other optional subjects ?

    1. It is not only possible but highly successful. You can choose any one optional subject of your choice from the list of 48 optional subjects.

  13. What is the basic qualification and minimum age required for WBPSC Exam

    1. Hi Prantika
      We suggest you refer to our WBCS Eligibility page.

  14. Sir I am in Btech first year presently I want to start my preparation for IAS exam can you please suggest me the books I must read to prepare for my IAS exam

    1. Hi
      Apart from daily current affairs, you can read NCERTs and some important UPSC Books. Check all of these in the linked articles.

  15. Hi,

    My DoB is 12th March 1989 and i am from Jammu and Kashmir. Am I eligible for UPSC 2021?

    1. Hi
      As per UPSC 2020 notification, there is no upper age relaxation for candidates domiciled in erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir (between 1980-1989). Hence, the upper age limit is 32 that means a candidate should not have attained 32 as of 1st August 2021, to sit for CSE 2021.

  16. Mandlik Sakshi Sanjay

    Hello Sir/Mam
    I’m studying in 12th Science . I would like to start with my studies now onwards for upsc cse. Please can you guide me for the books which to be studied now

    1. Hi
      1. NCERTs for UPSC
      2. Daily Current Affairs
      You can start with these two after going through the UPSC syllabus.

  17. hello sir /mam
    I passed out my 12th
    I want to study for upsc to become an ias officer
    can u please suggest me what to do now?

    1. Focus on your graduation subject. Parallelly you can start your UPSC preparation by following the steps:
      1. Understand UPSC Syllabus
      2. Start with NCERTs and complement with daily newspaper.
      3. Refer to UPSC previous years’ question papers.
      4. Read Rajiv Ahir’s Brief of Modern History, M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity for GS 1 and 2 respectively.
      5. Revise often.
      6. Take mock tests periodically.

  18. I want the notification of IAS exam

    1. Hi
      The UPSC Calendar 2021 is out. The notification for IAS 2021 will be out on 10th February 2021. You can keep yourself updated with our UPSC notification post.

  19. Dear sir,
    My date of birth is April 7th 2000.
    Can i write the exms for UPSC

    1. Yes, you can sit for UPSC 2021 w.r.t the age. For other eligibility criteria, check the linked article.

  20. Sir which book is the best for history optional for UPSC

    1. You can refer to History Optional Book List at the linked article.

  21. Sir which book is best for Political Science as an optional subject for UPSC?

    1. Hi
      You can refer to Political Science optional book list for UPSC here.

  22. Sir I have done my MBBS and pursuing MD in AIIMS but I want to prepare for IAS and I know very little about anything except Medicine. Can I still crack UPSC 2021 exam? And please tell me what path should I choose as I am very new to this UPSc thing

    1. You still can crack UPSC CSE. Choose any non-technical subject as your optional and prepare it well before prelims.
      1. Understand UPSC Syllabus
      2. Start with NCERTs and complement with daily newspaper.
      3. Refer to UPSC previous years’ question papers.
      4. Read Rajiv Ahir’s Brief of Modern History, M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity for GS 1 and 2 respectively.
      5. Revise often.
      6. Take mock tests periodically

  23. When is IAS exam application date in 2021 will released?

    1. It is scheduled to be released on Feb 10, 2021 with the release of the UPSC Notification

  24. Respected Ma’am / sir ,
    I’m Bilvika pursuing my graduation in the stream BSc(MECs) in 2nd year .My dream is to become an IAS officer .I want to prepare for UPSC exam .can you please suggest me what to do ?
    which books I need to prepare ?

    1. 1. Understand UPSC Syllabus
      2. Start with NCERTs and complement with daily newspaper.
      3. Refer to UPSC previous years’ question papers.
      4. Read Rajiv Ahir’s Brief of Modern History, M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity for GS 1 and 2 respectively.
      5. Revise often.
      6. Take mock tests periodically.

  25. I want to confirm age criteria for General. Is it 30 or 32? Currently I am 28, I want to pursue UPSC can I do it now as well?

    1. The maximum age limit for General Category candidates is 32. (One should not have attained 32 as on 1st August of the exam year)

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