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Eligibility Criteria for UPSC/IAS Exam

Am I eligible for UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE-IAS)?

“Where do you see yourself when you grow up?”

This is the most cliché question a child must answer. And the most common answer given by children is engineer or doctor (given by the more ambitious ones).

Little do these young ones know about the wonderful job that IAS is. Otherwise, why would we have so many engineers qualifying the Civil Services Examination, Kanishak Kataria Rank 1, CSE 2019 being the latest example. Ira Singhal, Athar Aamir khan, Srushti Jayant Deshmukh and Akshat Jain are some of the engineer-turned-IAS officers. Dr Shah Faesal and Dr Shena Aggarwal are the doctor-turned-IAS officers.

Being a civil servant offers something that many top corporate jobs, businesses and even many reputed government jobs can’t.

It could be power, fame, prestige, self-actualization, perks, a grand accommodation, very own staff, an opportunity to serve the nation and comfortable life.

Many young aspirants start preparing for CSE just after completing their intermediate (12th standard).

But it is very vital for a candidate, especially for a fresher to know the right time to take the mother of all examinations.

This is not as simple as it sounds. Many deserving candidates fall short of their attempts because they come to know about the existence of Civil Services Examination (CSE) very late in their life when they are on the verge of completing the maximum age limit.

It takes time to understand the demand for this examination and everybody has his/her speed of assessing their strengths and weaknesses. Having no time or lesser number of attempts due to age issues creates additional pressure on the candidate. Yet the lucky ones can sail through.

Many officers who qualify CSE  cannot get the service of their choice since they have crossed the age limit, they can’t give it another shot.

If you are OBC/SC/ST /Physically Handicapped (PH), you should know that you are given extra attempts and extended age limit as compared to the general category students. You can feel thankful about it and start preparing for the exam more rigorously.

If you are a GENERAL category student, you should know that you have limited attempts as compared to others and try cracking the examination in one go.

The point is that it is crucial to know the various eligibility criteria to prepare yourself the best possible way and start at the right time in advance.

Knowing all the UPSC eligibility criteria thoroughly, in fact, makes you smarter and gives you an edge over others who are unaware( believe it or not) because then you can plan your UPSC journey( the journey of a lifetime) in a manner best suitable for you.

In the light of that, below are the various UPSC eligibility criteria you must know to give your best shot.




For Indian administrative service, Indian Foreign Service, & Indian Police Service

  • A candidate must be a citizen of India.

For other services

  • A candidate must be a citizen of India/ Nepal/Bhutan.

  • A Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India. or

  • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

If you are from Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet or other above-mentioned countries ( having the intention of permanently settling in India), knowing only the fact that you are eligible for such coveted posts will boost your confidence and surely, you would not want to miss this chance.

There are many youngsters from such countries living in India yet unaware of this golden opportunity in their way. 

By studying the job profiles, you are eligible for, you can choose one dream job that drives you crazy and it will motivate you in your hard times throughout the UPSC journey.

A candidate in whose case a certificate of eligibility is necessary, may be admitted to the examination but the offer of appointment may be given only after the necessary eligibility certificate has been issued to him/her by the Government of India.





You should be at least 21 year of age to sit in the Civil Services Examination. Further, you can give your valid number of attempts till you attain the age of 32 years. (relaxations described below excluded)



Every candidate appearing at the examination, who is otherwise eligible shall be permitted six attempts at the examination.

What will count as an attempt at the Civil Services Examination?

An attempt at a Preliminary Examination shall be deemed to be an attempt at the Civil Services Examination If:


  • A candidate who is appointed to the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Foreign Service on the results of an earlier examination and continues to be a member of that service will not be eligible to compete at this examination. In case such a candidate is appointed to the IAS/IFS after the Preliminary Examination of Civil Services Examination, 2021 is over and he/she continues to be a member of that service, he/she shall not be eligible to appear in the Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2021 notwithstanding his/her having qualified in the Preliminary Examination, 2021. 

  • Also provided that if such a candidate is appointed to IAS/IFS after the commencement of the Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2021 but before the result thereof and continues to be a member of that service, he/she shall not be considered for appointment to any service/post on the basis of the result of this examination viz. Civil Services Examination, 2021.

  • A candidate who is appointed to the Indian Police Service on the results of an earlier examination and continues to be a member of that service will not be eligible to opt for the Indian Police Service in Civil Services Examination, 2021.


Candidates must be physically fit for admission to Civil Services Examination, 2021. guidelines are given in Appendix-III of rules of examination.

These were some of the criteria which will surely help you in a manner that will guide before you start your UPSC journey.

Age Relaxation
Domiciled Status in Jammu & Kashmir
5 years
Blindness and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy, autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability, mental illness and multiple disabilities including deaf blindness.
10 years
Defense Services Personnel
3 years
10 years
5 years
3 years
Category of the candidate
Number of Attempts
Unlimited attempts until age of 37

Appearance of the candidate at the examination will count as an attempt.

If a candidate just applies for UPSC CSE but don't appear, that won't be counted as an attempt by UPSC.

If a candidate actually appears in any one paper in the Preliminary Examination, he/she shall be deemed to have made an attempt at the Examination.

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