Indian Foreign Service: Functions and Diplomatic Hierarchy

The IFS is one of the three all India services you can get into if you clear the UPSC civil services and get the required ranking. On becoming an IFS officer, you can serve in the foreign services of our country and even go on to become ambassadors of India to various other countries. You can even work in India in the Ministry of External Affairs. Although there are fewer vacancies in the IFS as compared to the IAS exam, it is a covetable service and offers an exciting life to those willing to take it.

How to become an IFS Officer?

To become an IFS officer, you must take the UPSC civil services exam and get the required rank. The IFS is a highly ranked service and only those with high ranks can hope to get this service. In addition, there are fewer number of vacancies for the IFS as compared to the IAS, IPS or the IRS. Generally, on an average, about 30 – 40 candidates from all the categories are inducted into the Indian Foreign Service.

You can get details about the last ranks needed for the IFS in this article:

The Last All India Rank to get the Prestigious IAS, IPS and IFS


Although both the IAS and the IFS are important functionaries of the government and administration, both services have different profiles and vastly different scope of work and career trajectories. While the IAS deals with the administration of the country and its various divisions, the IFS deals with foreign service. IFS officers work either in the External Affairs Ministry or in the various embassies and consulates that India has across the world. The following link talks about this in detail.

Why Do Most UPSC CSE Candidates Choose The IAS Over IFS?

IFS Officer Salary

The starting salary of an IFS officer would be around Rs. 60000 per month with facilities such as good accommodation, transport facilities, security and household helps, medical expenses, free phone, electricity and water, etc. As a government servant, pension and other retirement benefits would also be available. The highest position in the hierarchy is that of an ambassador or the Foreign Secretary. Based on the country, officers can also get a ‘Special Foreign Allowance’ which can also considerably increase the pay package.

Read more about the IFS salary here.

IFS Officer Functions

  • Representing India in embassies, high commissions, consulates and permanent missions to organisations like the United Nations.
  • Protecting India’s national interests in the country where he/she is posted.
  • Promoting friendly relations with the said country and also with its people including PIOs/NRIs.
  • Reporting accurately on the developments in the country of posting, which are likely to influence India.
  • Negotiating agreements on issues with the authorities of the country of his/her posting.
  • Extending consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.
  • In the Ministry of External Affairs, the officer is responsible for all aspects of external affairs such as bilateral political and economic work, policy manning, multilateral organizations, legal matters, protocols, regional groupings, consular affairs, disarmament, Indian diaspora, press and publicity, administration, etc.

IFS Ranks

Grade Designation in Field (Overseas) Designation in Headquarters (India)
Junior time scale Attaché / Third Secretary Under Secretary
Senior time scale Second / First Secretary Under Secretary
Junior administrative grade First Secretary Deputy Secretary
Selection grade IV Director Counsellor Director
Senior administrative grade Minister/DCM Ambassador Joint Secretary
Ambassador/High Commissioner Additional Secretary
Ambassador/High Commissioner Secretary

Frequently Asked Questions about Indian Foreign Service (IFS)


What are some of the Primary Function of an Indian Foreign Service Officer?

Some of the Primary Functions of an Indain Foreingn Service Officer are: Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organizations like UN.

What are the ranks of an IFS officer?

Ranks of an IFS Officers are as follows:
Third Secretary (entry level)
Second Secretary (promotion upon being confirmed in service)
First Secretary.
Deputy Chief of Mission/Deputy High Commissioner/Deputy Permanent Representative.
Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative.

Related Links:

A Brief History of the Indian Foreign Service UPSC Civil Services: All you need to know about the Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
Functions of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Indian Foreign Service Rank in UPSC


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