How many countries can an IFS officer visit in his career?

How many countries can an IFS officer visit in his career? by Rahul Shrivastava

Answer by Rahul Shrivastava:

Since the A2A is from Arman Gill, let us make him the protagonist of this answer.

Arman gets into the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) right after his post-graduation. After his short training at LBSNAA in Mussoorie, he goes for specialised training at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in New Delhi. He has completed only about three months of training at FSI when he gets his first opportunity as an IFS officer to travel abroad. He goes for on-site training to Bangladesh for a few days and then to Bhutan. In both places, he sees how the Indian Mission works. Arman’s score is 2.

While undergoing training at FSI, Arman gets Spanish as his Compulsory Foreign Language (CFL). After the training at FSI gets completed, Arman is deployed in the United Nations Political Division (Department in other countries) of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for getting trained in work of the Ministry. Arman learns multilateral work and his boss is pleased with his progress. So when an opportunity comes, Arman’s boss sends him to New York along with a delegation to the United Nations. Arman’s score is 3.

Arman completes his training in MEA and heads to Madrid to do his CFL training. He slogs for three months learning his CFL and then his university closes for winter vacation. Arman takes this opportunity to visit France. After the vacation, his CFL training goes on for another six-months. He takes his CFL exam in summer and then takes a week’s break. He flies to Scandinavia and does a quick tour of Norway and Sweden. He returns and is given full-time work at the Embassy. After some time, his CFL exam results are declared. He passes and then works for two years in Madrid. Arman’s score is 7.

Arman is in love with Madrid and wants to stay there forever. But his three years get over and he gets transferred to Bogota. Arman is amazed at how beautiful Bogota is. He is now fluent in Spanish and is enjoying his life and work in Colombia. During his three years in Bogota, he pays two official visits to Peru and Cuba to assist the Indian Missions there during high-level visits. He is married now. His wife’s dream has been to visit Brazil and Mexico. So, in the three years in Bogota, Arman takes two breaks of a week each to visit these countries. Arman’s score is 12.

Six years abroad at a stretch has made Arman nostalgic. So, he is glad to get his transfer orders to MEA. Arman gets deployed in the Multilateral Economic Relations (MER) Division. He has to travel abroad at least once in two months. In the two years that Arman has been in MER Division, he travels to 15 countries. Arman is getting tired of frequent travelling. And just in time his transfer orders come. His score is 27.

After Bogota, Arman wanted a posting closer home. He goes to Dubai. His work load is heavy. He sometimes gets to travel within UAE but not to other countries. His score is 28.

Arman gets posted to London from Dubai. During the summer vacations of his child, the family goes on a European tour. They visit 5 countries. Arman also visits Prague on official work. Arman’s score is 35.

Back to home again after the stint in the UK. Arman now heads the Latin America Division in MEA. In his three years, he visits 6 Latin American countries on official tour. His score is 41.

The next three consecutive postings are as Ambassador to Argentina, Spain and Turkey. In Argentina, Arman is concurrently accredited to Uruguay and Paraguay. While in Turkey, he attends the regional conference of Ambassadors in Hungary and Cyprus. His score is 47.

Arman comes back to Headquarters for the third and final time. He is now an Additional Secretary. He soon gets promoted as Secretary. He is in charge of over 70 Missions abroad. He is out of the country every next week. He covers 26 countries (some countries require several visits). His score is 73.

Arman is just one step away from reaching the top most post – Foreign Secretary of India. If he gets that post, it will again mean a lot of travel but he would mostly visit countries he has already been to. If he does not, he might get posted as Ambassador to a neighbouring country or to a P-5 country.

We do not know what happens next. What we know is that when Arman retires, he has a score of 80.

How many countries can an IFS officer visit in his career?


  1. I have a question going on in my mind about the CFL. What is the CFL allocation policy ? Suppose my preference are French, German and Spanish but my rank is low. Will I be forced to take Chinese or arabic ?

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