UPSC Eligibility Criteria 2019

The UPSC Civil Services Exam which is more commonly called the IAS Exam is conducted for the recruitment of IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and 22 other services listed under Group A and Group B. Every year, roughly 4 to 5 lakh eligible aspirants appear for the Prelims exam, which is the first step to secure a spot among the 1000 vacancies (approx) offered. For candidates appearing from the General category, the permissible age is 32 years and the maximum number of attempts one can take is 6. Candidates applying for the IAS and IPS exam must be a citizen of India.

This article provides a detailed overview of the UPSC Eligibility Criteria for the Civil Services Exam, which includes:

  • Age Limit
  • Educational Eligibility 
  • Nationality
  • Number of attempts

Eligibility Criteria for UPSC


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 Citizen 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 belongs to categories (2), (3), (4) or (5), he/she must have a certificate of eligibility issued by the Government of India.

Note 2: Further, candidates belonging to categories (2), (3) or (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.

Candidates applying for the Civil Service examination should ensure that they fulfil 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. The issuance 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.

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 complete their graduation 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 passing their 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.

Age Limit and Number of Attempts

Applicants should have attained a minimum age of 21 years and a maximum age permissible age of 32 years as on 1st August 2019, as per the official age criteria. This means candidates should not have been born earlier than 2nd August 1987 or after 1st August 1998.

The age criteria and its relaxation (on the basis of category) decides the number of chances you get to appear for the UPSC exam. 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 Other Backward Class (OBC) category: 9 attempts till 35 years of age
  3. For Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (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.

Detailed Age Criteria and No. of Attempts

Category Upper Age Limit No. of Attempts Allowed
General 32 years 06
Other Backward Class (OBC 32 years with relaxation of 3 years i.e. 35 years 09
Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST)  32 years with relaxation of 5 years i.e. 37 years 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

General= 37 years

OBC= 40 years

SC/ST=42 years PH=50

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 the 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 the 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.

Physical Criteria

For candidates willing to opt for IPS, they have to undergo a strict physical standards test in order to qualify for the service.

The details of the physical criteria are as given below - 

  • Height: A minimum height of 165 cm for men and 150 cm for women. The minimum height is relaxable to 160 and 145 cm for men and women respectively in the case of candidates belonging to ST and to races such as Gorkhas, Garhwalis, Assamese, Kumaonis, Nagaland Tribals, etc.
  • Chest: The minimum chest girth, fully expanded: 84 cm for men and 79 cm for women. Expansion of 5 cm for both men and women
  • Eyesight: A distant vision of 6/2 or 6/ 9 for worse eye and 6/6 or 6/9 vision for good eye. Near vision of J2 for worse eye and J1 for good eye. No inherent night blindness & stereoscopic vision
  • Hearing: Good listening and normal ear cavity; 1000-4000 frequency hearing impairment should not be more than 30 decibels
  • Nasal: candidate should not stutter while speaking
  • Ladies should not be pregnant at the time of the medical test

Three stages of UPSC Civil Services Exam

UPSC Civil Services exam is conducted every year for the recruitment of the elite IAS, IPS and other Group A officers. The recruitment process takes about a year and exams are conducted in three stages.

Stage 1: Preliminary exam, usually conducted in May/June. It is an objective type question paper with two papers - one is General Studies, and the other is CSAT for 400 marks (200 marks each).

Note - Marks are deducted for wrong answers (1/3rd for every wrong answer), and CSAT paper is qualifying in nature (66.7 marks needed for qualifying).

Stage 2: UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam consists of 9 papers which are descriptive. There are 4 General Studies Essays and 2 Optional Papers included for merit. English and Language papers are qualifying in nature. Mains exam is usually held in October/November.

Stage 3: Those candidates who qualify the Mains exam are called for the Interview. Based on the Mains and the Interview score, candidates are recommended by UPSC. UPSC publishes the final recommended list in May/June.


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