Combined Defence Services Examination
Combined Defence Services Examination

CDS Eligibility Criteria 2024: Age Limit, Education Qualification, Physical Standard

The CDS eligibility criteria are a set of requirements outlined in the official CDS notification for candidates applying for the Combined Defence Service examination. Both male and female candidates must meet the eligibility requirements as specified
UPSC CDS Eligibility Criteria 2024

UPSC CDS Eligibility Criteria 2024

CDS Eligibility Criteria 2024: The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Combined Defence Service (CDS) examination to recruit eligible candidates for the Indian Military Academy, Indian Naval Academy, Indian Air Force Academy, and Officers Training Academy (OTA). The exam is conducted twice a year. Candidates wishing to join the Indian Armed Forces through the CDS exam 2024 are required to fulfil the eligibility criteria. 

Candidates must meet CDS eligibility criteria such as nationality, age limit, and educational qualification in order to take the examination. UPSC publishes the CDS official notification on its website, which includes detailed information on the eligibility criteria. Candidates must also meet the physical requirements set by the concerned authorities.

CDS Eligibility Criteria 2024

The CDS eligibility criteria involve a set of conditions that must be fulfilled by the candidates if they wish to appear for the CDS examination. Aspirants can read below to learn more about the CDS eligibility requirements.

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Nationality

A candidate must either be a:

(i) Citizen of India

(ii) a Subject of Nepal

(iii) a person of Indian origin who has moved to India from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, and the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, and Ethiopia, or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India


  • Candidates belonging to (ii) & (iii) categories must be a person in whose favour a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India.
  • However, aspirants who are Gorkha subjects of Nepal are not necessarily required to produce the certificate of eligibility.
  • A candidate who requires a certificate of CDS eligibility 2023 may be admitted to the examination subject to the necessary certificate issued to him from the government prior to the announcement of the CDS result by UPSC.

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Age Limit

Candidates wishing to join Indian Armed Forces must fall between the age group mentioned in the official CDS 2 notification 2023. The detailed CDS age limit criteria can be found below:

Indian Military Academy:

  • Only male candidates can apply for IMA
  • Candidates must be unmarried
  • Male candidates (unmarried) born not earlier than 2nd January, 2001 and not later than 1st January, 2006 only are eligible.

Indian Naval Academy:

  • Only male candidates can apply for INA
  • Candidates must be unmarried
  • Only male candidates (unmarried) born not earlier than 2nd January, 2001 and not later than 1st January, 2006 are eligible.

Indian Air Force Academy

Candidates must be 20 to 24 years as on 1st January 2025 i.e. born not earlier than 2nd January 2001 and not later than January 1, 2005.


  • Candidates who are under the age of 25 must be unmarried.
  • During training, marriage is not permitted.
  • Married candidates over the age of 25 are eligible to apply, but they will not be provided with married accommodation and will not be permitted to live with family outside of the premises during the training period.

Officer Training Academy (SSC Course for Men)

  • Only male candidates are allowed to apply
  • Candidates must be unmarried
  • Candidates must not be born earlier than 2nd January, 2000 and not later than 1st January, 2006. 

Officer Training Academy (SSC Women Non-Technical Course)

  • Only female candidates are allowed to apply for a non-technical course
  • Women who are unmarried, issueless divorcees (in possession of divorce documents) who have not remarried, and issueless widows who have not remarried are eligible.
  • Candidates should have been born not earlier than January 2, 2000 and not later than January 1, 2006.


Male divorcee/widower candidates are not treated as unmarried males for admission to IMA/INA/AFA/OTA courses and accordingly, they are not considered eligible for these courses.

CDS Eligibility Criteria: Educational Qualification

Candidates preparing for the CDS exam 2023 must be graduated or at least be appearing for the final examination. The detailed CDS educational eligibility criteria is as follows:


Educational Qualification

Indian Air Force Academy

Candidates must have a degree from a recognized University (with Physics and

Mathematics at 10+2 level) or Bachelor of Engineering. 

Indian Military Academy & Officers’ Training Academy

Candidates must have degree or equivalent from a recognized university

Indian Naval Academy

Candidates must have an engineering degree from a recognized university or institute.


  • Candidates who are graduates are required to submit the proof of graduation/provisional certificate at the time of SSB Interview
  • Candidates who are in the final year/semester of the degree can also apply for the CDS exam. However, there should not be any backlog up to the last year/semester for which the results have been declared. Such candidates are required to submit the provisional certificate/passing degree at the time of the commencement of the course/training.
  • Candidates who have been barred from holding any type of commission in the Defence Services by the Ministry of Defence will not be eligible to take the examination.

CDS Eligibility: Physical & Medical Standards

For admission to the Combined Defence Services Examination (I), 2024, candidates must be physically fit according to the guidelines outlined in the CDS official notification. 

Armed Forces Medical Services Medical Officers perform thorough medical examinations. Following basic military training, these Medical Officers are well-oriented to the specific working conditions of the Armed Forces. Medical examinations are approved by the Board of Medical Officers. The Medical Board's decision is final. The State will be given the benefit of the doubt if any disease/disability/injury/genetic disorder is discovered during enrolment/commissioning.

To be considered 'Medically fit,' a candidate must be in good physical and mental health, and free of any disease/syndrome/disability that would interfere with the efficient performance of military duties in any terrain, climate, season (including sea and air), remote areas, and austere conditions with no medical aid. Candidates should also be free of medical conditions that necessitate frequent visits to medical facilities and the use of any aids or drugs.

Medical examinations of candidates will ensure the following principal points:

  • The candidate is sufficiently intelligent.
  • The hearing is good and there is no sign of any disease of ear, nose or throat.
  • Either eye's vision meets the needed threshold. His or her eyes are brilliant, unclouded, and devoid of any abnormalities or overt squinting. The eyeballs should move freely and fully in all directions.
  • Speech is without impediment.
  • There is no glandular swelling.
  • whether the person's heart, lungs, and chest are strong.
  • The candidates' limbs are completely formed and developed.
  • There is no indication of any kind of hernia.
  • All joints function perfectly and freely.
  • Feet and toes are well formed.
  • Absence of any congenital malformation or defects.
  • He or she is free of any signs of past acute or chronic illness that would indicate an impaired constitution.

CDS Eligibility: Height & Weight Standards


  • Male candidates for entry into the Armed Forces must be at least 157 cm tall, or as determined by the respective recruiting agency. Gorkhas and candidates from the hills of India's north-eastern region, Garhwal, and Kumaon, with a minimum height of 152 cm, will be accepted.
  • Female candidates for entry into the Armed Forces must be at least 152 cm tall. Gorkhas and candidates from the hills of India's north-eastern region, Garhwal, and Kumaon will be accepted with a minimum height of 148 cm.

Height-Weight Chart: Navy

CDS Eligibility: Visual Standards

Candidates wishing to join the Indian Armed Forces must not have any kind of defection in their eyes. The visual standard for NDA/NA entry are as follows:


  • Candidates who have undergone any type of Refractive Surgery (PRK/LASIK/SMILE) are eligible for all branches.
  • Kerato Refractive Surgery is not permitted for special forces personnel such as submarines, divers, and MARCO.
  • Candidates who have undergone Radial Keratotomy are ineligible for recruitment.

CDS Eligibility for Female

Female candidates can apply only for the Officers’ Training Academy (Non-Technical). Women candidates wishing to join in any of the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces must fulfil the eligibility criteria as required by the authorities. The following is the eligibility criteria for women to join OTA (Non-technical) through CDS:

  • Female candidates must have been born between January 1st, 2005 and January 2nd, 1999 to apply for the CDS 1 exam 2023.
  • Female candidates must be 152 cm tall to meet the physical standard.

CDS Eligibility: Marital Status


Marital Status

Indian Military Academy

Unmarried male candidates

Air Force Academy

Male candidates must be unmarried if they are under 25 years of age.

Candidates over 25 years of age are also eligible, but they cannot live outside the premises with their families.

Candidates are not allowed to marry during the training period.

Naval Force Academy

Unmarried male candidates

Officers Training Academy (SSC for Men)

Unmarried male candidates

Officers Training Academy (SSC for Women)

Unmarried women

Issueless widows who have not remarried

Non-remarried divorcees with divorce documents


Aspiring candidates who want to take the CDS 1 exam 2023 must carefully read the CDS eligibility criteria. Physical and medical standards must be met exactly as specified, or the aspirant's candidature will be rejected by the relevant authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can women apply for the CDS exam?

Yes, women candidates can apply for the CDS examination. However, they are eligible to apply only for OTA (SSC - Non-technical).

How many times can you take the CDS exam?

Candidates who have completed their graduation can take the CDS exam until they reach the age limit. There is no restriction on the number of CDS exam attempts.

What are the physical fitness requirements for the CDS exam?

Candidates who wish to join the Indian Armed Forces through the CDS examination must be physically and medically fit. The physical requirements for each of the three wings are detailed in the above article.

Are candidates wearing spectacles eligible for the CDS exam?

Yes, candidates wearing spectacles are eligible for the CDS exam. However, they are not eligible for the Indian Air Force wing of the Armed Forces.

What is the age limit to apply for CDS OTA?

Candidates under the age of 25 are eligible to apply for the CDS OTA. The age limit is the same for both male and female candidates.