UPSC Eligibility Criteria – IAS Age Limit, Attempts, Qualification

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The UPSC Exam is very prestigious in nature. The Union Public Service Commission makes sure that they select the best candidates for different services and positions. And thus it is very difficult to pass.

The commission lays down certain criteria for the eligibility of the UPSC exam. This is to ensure that there is equality in the process of application. The reason why IAS and IPS only take Indian Citizens is that they are the superior officers.

And the superior officers must understand their people and their country. Other services are open to other nationalities as well. You will come across them below. 

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UPSC Eligibility Criteria

The Commission is mindful of Indian diversity and thus opens the door for the backward sections of the community as well as the physically challenged individuals. This is to offer them an equal chance to prove themselves and do good for the nation.

The IAS eligibility criteria have four sub-criteria that every candidate has to meet. They are – Nationality, Age Limit, Number of Attempts, and Educational Qualification. Let us take a look at each of them:

IAS Eligibility – UPSC Nationality Criteria

The Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police service are very clear about the nationality criteria. The candidate must be an Indian Citizen to appear for IAS and IPS Exams. The nationality criteria for other services are – 

  1. A citizen of India
  2. A subject of Nepal
  3. A subject of Bhutan 
  4. A Tibetan Refugee (came to the country before 1st January 1962 with a plan to stay permanently)
  5. A Migrated Person of Indian Origin from – Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zaire, and Vietnam. 
  6. The candidates must have a certificate to prove their migration or travel issued by the Indian Government. 
  7. They can appear for the exam without the certificate but their appointment will mandatorily need a certificate. 
  8. Candidates belonging to B, C, and D are not eligible for Indian Foreign Service.

IAS Eligibility – UPSC Age Criteria

The candidate must be 21 years old and has to be this age before August of the exam’s year. And the upper age limit stands at 31 years currently. For candidates appearing in 20202, they have to be born between August 1987 to August 1998. The criteria for the reserved category are different. 

  • General Category – 21 years to 32 years – no relaxation
  • SC/ST – 21 years to 37 years – 5 years relaxation 
  • OBC – 21 years to 35 years –  3 years relaxation
  • Public works department – 21 years to 35 year
  • Economic Weaker Section – 21years to 32 year – no relaxation
  • Disabled Defence Services Personnel – 21 years to 35 years – 3 years relaxation
  • Domiciles of JK – 21 years to 37 years
  • Physically Disabled – 42 years – 10 years relaxation 
  • Ex-Servicemen Commission Officer – 37 years – 5 years relaxation

This table will give you a more clear understanding –

Category Upper Age LimitRelaxation
General 32 yearsNone 
SC/ST37 yearsUp to 5 years
OBC35 yearsUp to 3 years
PWD35 yearsNone 
EWS32 yearsNone 
Disabled Defence Services Personnel35 years Up to 3 years 
Domiciles of JK37 years None 
Physically Disabled42 years Up to 10 years 
Ex-Servicemen Commission Officer37 years Up to 5 years 

Points to Remember

  • Candidates who come from any backward category and are ex-servicemen or physically challenged can take advantage of the relaxation in both categories. 
  • Re-employment in Civil Services and Posts Rules of 1979 defines the term ex-servicemen. 
  • Ex-servicemen and Commissioned  Officers leaving their post at their own will can not take age benefits mentioned above. 
  • Candidates claiming a physical disability need to meet the medical standards by the government or any other authority.
  • You need your birth certificate or school leaving certificate recognized by an Indian University.
  • These certificates are mandatory for applying for the UPSC Mains Exam. 
  • No other certificate like horoscopes and affidavits acts as the proof age for this exam.
  • Make sure you match your DOB with the certificate to avoid disciplinary action by the commission. 

UPSC Number of Attempts Criteria

The IAS exam attempts that a candidate take under different categories are –

  • General Category – 6 attempts
  • SC/ST – Unlimited
  • OBC –  9 attempts
  • EWS – 6 attempts 
  • General Physically Handicapped – 9
  • OBC Physically Handicapped – 9 
  • SC/ST Physically Handicapped – Unlimited 

Points to Remember

  • Appearing only for UPSC Prelims count as one attempt.
  • If the candidate clears the prelims, she can appear for the Mains exam of the same year. 
  • In case of a candidate’s disqualification or cancellation, it is still counted as one attempt. 
  • If a candidate is already an IAS or IFS based on a previous exam, she can not apply for the exam again. And in case of application, she cannot appear in the Mains exam. 
  • And in case she joins the service before the exam result of the current exam, the commission will not consider her for the present exam results.

UPSC Educational Qualification Criteria

  • A bachelor’s degree from a registered university is mandatory for all applicants no matter which category they come from. 
  • The candidates in their final year waiting to write their final exam can also apply. But they will have to present proof of passing before appearing for the mains exam. 
  • There are exceptions when the commission allows candidates with a bachelor’s degree but not from a mentioned category to appear for the UPSC exam. 
  • Government degrees are also eligible for application. The candidates must have a degree to prove their statement. 
  • The MBBS candidates with incomplete internships receive a provisional admission in mains. This situation is valid only when candidates submit proof from the university that they qualified for the final medical examination. 
  • This case demands a certificate from the university that they have completed all the semesters and are eligible for a degree. 


Above, we saw all the mandatory conditions laid down by the commission for IAS eligibility. They are very strict about them and candidates should not take the risk of violating them. This can result in actions against the candidates by the authorities.

This can sabotage your chance of clearing the exam and even reappearing for it. Thus all the UPSC candidates must read the eligibility criteria well and then move forward with their application. This will ensure that the procedure till the interview remains smooth.

Not only for candidates, following the guidelines is a relief for the authorities as well. Take some time out and give this article a read to avoid any complications in the future. 

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