Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is a central recruitment agency. It is responsible for the recruitment of All India Services (IAS, IPS and Indian Foreign Service), Group A and Group B officers.

UPSC Civil Services Exam is conducted for the recruitment of IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and other 22 services listed under Group A and Group B. Every year UPSC releases its notification in February/March for the recruitment for around 1000 vacancies (150 to 180 for IAS). Roughly, about 11 lakh students apply for Prelims exams out of which 4 to 5 lakh appear for the exam.

In this page, we provide the UPSC Eligibility Criteria for the Civil Services Exam which includes IAS age limit, educational eligibility for IAS, nationality for IAS eligibility and number of attempts in UPSC Civil Services exam.

UPSC Exam Eligibility


  • For All India Services (IAS and IPS), the candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • For Other Services like IRS, IAAS, IRTS etc., the candidate must be either
      • 1. a citizen of India, or
      • 2. a subject of Nepal, or
      • 3. a Subject of Bhutan, or
      • 4. a Tibetan refugee, who came over to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
      • 5. 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 or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

    Note 1: Provided that a candidate belonging to categories (2), (3), (4) and (5) shall be a person in whose favour the Government of India has issued a certificate of eligibility.

    Note 2: Further, candidates belonging to categories (2), (3) and (4) above will not be eligible for appointment to the Indian Foreign Service.

    Note 3: 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.

    Note: The Candidates applying for the Civil Service Examination should ensure that they fulfill all eligibility conditions and criteria for admission to the examination. Their admission to all the stages of the examination will be purely provisional subject to satisfying the prescribed eligibility conditions. Mere issue of admission certificate to the candidate will not imply that his/her candidature has been finally cleared by the UPSC. UPSC takes up verification of eligibility conditions with reference to original documents only after the candidate has qualified for Interview/ Personality Test.

    Age Limit and Number of Attempts

    The age limit and its relaxation (on the basis of category) decides the number of chances you get to appear for the UPSC exam. Applicants should have attained an age of 21 years and must not be more than 32 years of age on 1 st August 2018, which means candidates should not have been born earlier than 2 nd August 1986 or after 1 st August 1997.

    The restrictions on the number of times this exam can be taken are as follows

    • 1. For General Category: 6 attempts till 32 years of age
    • 2. For OBC category: 9 attempts till 35 years of age
    • 3. For SC/ST category: unlimited attempts till 37 years of age

    Note: Physically Handicapped/disabled candidates belonging to General category will get the benefit of 9 attempts till the age prescribed by UPSC i.e., 42 years.

    If a candidate appears for any of the papers of the Civil Services Preliminary Exam, the attempt is counted. If a candidate filled up the UPSC application form but didn’t take the Preliminary Exam, the attempt will not be counted.

    Category Age limits Number of attempts
    General 32 years 06
    OBC 32 years with relaxation of 3 years i.e. 35 09
    SC/ST 32 years with relaxation of 5 years i.e. 37 Till the age limit
    PH Candidate 32 years with relaxation of 10 years i.e. 42 years For General & OBC 9 attempts
    J&K Residence Shri Durgesh Nandan Geography
    6 General= 37 years
    OBC= 40 years
    SC/ST=42 years
    Till the age limit
    Disabled serviceman discharged from duty if general then 32+3=35
    OBC then 32+3+3=38
    SC/ST then 32+3+5=40
    depending on above categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, Disabled
    Ex-serviceman with five years duty* specific condition on page 2 of notification if general then 32+5=37
    OBC then 32+5+3=40
    SC/ST then 32+5+5=42
    depending on above categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, Disabled

    Note: An attempt is counted if a student appears for one of the papers in the Prelims examination. If he/she doesn’t appear for Prelims exams even if he/she applied, it is not counted as an attempt.

    Educational Eligibility

    The minimum educational qualification for IAS exam is that a candidate must hold a degree from any university incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India, or other educational institution established by an Act of Parliament, or declared to be deemed as a university under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.

    • Final year students can also appear for the UPSC IAS exam, but they should get their graduation completed by the time they appear for Civil Services Mains Exam
    • Candidates possessing professional and technical qualifications which are recognised by the Government as equivalent to a professional and technical degree would also be eligible for admission to the examination
    • Candidates who are appearing for the final year of M.B.B.S or any other Medical Examination, but have not completed their internship would be provisionally admitted to the Civil Services Mains exam, but they have to produce their original certificate at the time of Personality test
    • All such candidates who qualify the Prelims examination must produce a proof of Pass Bachelor Degree to appear for the Civil Services Main Examination. This Degree has to be attached to their application for the Main Examinations
    • The UPSC may, in exceptional cases, treat a candidate without the foregoing requisite qualifications as an eligible candidate. This exception can occur if he/ she has passed an examination conducted by other institutions, the standard of which justifies his/ her admission in the opinion of the Commission. The criteria may apply to candidates having Bachelor’s degree from any reputed foreign university, for example, Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard etc.