NSDL PAN Card: Overview

PAN or Permanent Account Number is the unique identification number allotted to the tax payers or assesses in India. PAN is a mandatory requirement for filing income tax returns by any tax payer. All the tax related information pertaining to the tax payer is recorded against the PAN allotted to the respective tax payer. It is a unique number allotted to the taxpaying individuals or entities; hence, two persons cannot have same PAN. The card which is issued containing the number and identity details of the individual is called the PAN Card.

Prior to 1972, an assessed of the Income Tax Department was identified by a number called General Index Register Number (GIR No.). This number was allotted by the Assessing Officer to an assessed. It included the information of assesse as well as assessing Officer. The allotment of GIR number was a manual system and no. was unique only within a ward or under a particular assessing officer. It was not unique at country level.  This resulted in errors and increased the chances of miscalculations during tax assessment.

To address this issue, Permanent Account Number was introduced in 1972. Initially, it was voluntary; however, allotment of PAN was made mandatory u/s 139A of the Income-tax Act, 1961 w.e.f. April 1, 1976. Earlier, the allotment of PAN was done manually. To avoid duplication, blocks of Permanent Account Number were allotted to each Commissioner of Income-tax by the Board. Permanent Account Numbers from these blocks were allotted by the commissioner to the assesse under various Assessing Officers in his charge. The system of manual allotment of PAN was continued till 1985.  

After studying the system of identification number initiated in U.K. (National Insurance Number), USA (Social Security Number), Spain (Fiscal Identification Number), Australia (Tax File Number) etc. in 1995, this series was abandoned and allotment of current series of PAN was started. PAN is issued by the Income tax Department of India under the supervision of the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT).


The Income Tax Department of India has developed Tax Information Network or TIN which is used for the purpose of processing, collecting, monitoring and accounting of direct taxes. It acts a repository for all tax related information. NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited is enlisted by the IT Department for maintaining and handling TIN.

NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited acts a service provider for processing of applications, collecting, handling and verifying personal documents like proof of ID, age and address, clarification with the applicants, printing the card and the letter and then mailing it. The PAN number is obtained by NSDL from the server if IT department. The number is generated only after the application and documents are successfully processed.

Tax payers can apply for a Permanent Account Number through TIN-NSDL website in two ways; downloading the form and submitting at NSDL e-Gov centers or submitting the application online. It also facilitates online checking of the application status, making an application for changes or corrections in existing PAN, applying for cancellation of PAN.

Who must have a PAN?

PAN Card can be issued to individuals, companies, partnership firms, etc. Even in case of individuals, minors, students and Non-Resident Indians can also apply for PAN. Obtaining PAN is optional and voluntary like passport, driving license, Aadhaar etc. However, as per section 139A of Income Tax Act, 1961, every person falling under any of the following categories must have a Permanent Account Number:

  1. if the total income of a person in respect of which he is assessable under the Income Tax Act, 1961
  2. If such person is needed to furnish a return of income under sub-section (4A) of section 139; or
  3. If such person is an employer who requires to give a return of fringe benefits under section 115WD,

As per Income Tax Act, 1961, Person includes:

  1. an Individual;
  2. a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF);
  3. a Company;
  4. a Firm
  5. an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not;
  6. a local authority; and
  7. Every artificial juridical person not falling within any of the preceding sub-clauses.

Structure of PAN

Permanent Account Number is a unique, 10 digit alpha-numeric identifier. It is generated automatically by an online system based on the information provided by the applicant. An example of PAN is AFOPN1111Q. First five characters are alphabets, next four are numerals and last character is again an alphabet.

  1. The first three characters of PAN are a sequence of alphabets from AAA to ZZZ.
  2. The fourth character represents the status of the PAN holder. The alphabets and their meaning are as follows:
  1. A — Association of Persons (AOP)
  2. B — Body of Individuals (BOI)
  3. C — Company
  4. F — Firm
  5. G — Government
  6. H — HUF (Hindu Undivided Family)
  7. L — Local Authority
  8. J — Artificial Judicial Person
  9. P — Individual
  10. T — AOP (Trust)
  11. K — Krish (Trust krish)

In the given example, P stands for individual.

  1. The fifth character of the PAN number is the first alphabet of last name of the individual.  In case if the PAN applicant is a non individual, the alphabet of the name of the Trust, Entity, organization or society.
  2. The next four characters are numerals. These are sequential numbers running from 0001 to 9999.
  3. The last character is an alphabetic check digit.

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Process for Application of Permanent Account Number

Application for Permanent Account Number can be made in 2 ways; online at the NSDL website or by applying at any of the district level PAN agencies. Form 49A is required to be filled and submitted for application of new PAN by Indian citizens including those who are resident outside India. Form 49AA is required to be filled and submitted by foreign citizens to obtain a new PAN.

Following is the process for making an online PAN application:

  1. Visit the NSDL or UTIISL website and select ‘New PAN’ option
  2. Indian citizens (including NRE/NRI/OCI individuals) to Select Form 49A
  3. Required details such as address, full name, gender, telephone number, date of birth, income details etc. are to be filled.
  4. Click on submit and pay the processing fee
  5. Print the acknowledgement with the 15 digit acknowledgement number.
  6. Sign in the space provided.
  7. Affix passport sized photographs on the acknowledgement.
  8. Above acknowledgement along with the specified documents and demand draft (if the payment is made though DD) are required to be sent at NSDL office by post within 15 days of submitting the online application.
  9. The application is processed and PAN card is sent to the applicant within 15 working days at the address provided in the application form.

Following is the process for making an offline PAN application:

  1. Obtain the PAN application form from UTIISL agent. The same can also be downloaded from the NSDL or UTIISL websites.
  2. Fill in the form and attach specified documents
  3. Submit the form and along with documents to the NSDL office along with the processing fee.
  4. The application is processed and PAN card is sent to the applicant within 15 working days at the address provided in the application form.

List of Documents Required for PAN Application

  1. Proof of Identity such as passport, aadhaar card, etc.
  2. Address proof such as passport, utility bills, etc.
  3. Date of birth proof such as birth certificate, affidavit signed before a magistrate stating date of birth, etc
  4. In case of HUF, a declaration signed by the karta of the HUF stating the name, father's name and address of all the HUF members is also required to be submitted.
  5. In case of company, copy of Registration Certificate issued by the Registrar of Companies is required to be submitted.
  6. In case of Limited Liability partnership firms, copy of Registration Certificate issued by the Registrar of Limited Liability Partnerships is required to be submitted.
  7. In case of partnership firm, copy of partnership deed is required to be submitted.

Track your NSDL PAN Status

NSDL also facilitates online tracking of PAN application. The same can be done through NSDL website where application status and payment status both can be checked.

Tracking of Application Status

  1. Visit NSDL website. Click on “Track your PAN/TAN Application Status” under PAN cards.
  2. Select application type i.e. PAN – new/change request
  3. Enter the 15 digit acknowledgment number.
  4. Enter name and date of birth.
  5. Click on submit to view application status.

The information should be entered as submitted in the application form. For non-individuals, name of the entity should be entered in the slot for surname. The status can also be checked by submitting name and date of birth only.

Tracking of Transaction Status

  1. Visit NSDL website. Click on “Know Status of Your Credit Card Transaction for Online Application”
  2. Enter either Transaction number generated at the time of payment or 15 digit acknowledgment number
  3. Enter name
  4. Enter date of birth
  5. Click on “Show status” to view transaction status.

Uses of Permanent Account Number

As per Income Tax Act, every person shall quote such Permanent Account Number in

  1. In all challans for the doing payments under this Act;
  2. In all documents pertaining to such transactions as may be prescribed, such as
    1. Sale or purchase of an immovable property valuing INR 5 lakhs or more
    2. Sale or purchase of a vehicle except a two-wheeler
    3. Payments in hotels and restaurants and which are more than INR 25,000
    4. Payments made in relation to travel to other countries if the amount is more than INR 25000.
    5. Payment made towards bank deposits, if the amount exceeds INR 50,000.
    6. Payment made towards acquisition of bonds when the amount is equal to or greater than INR 50,000
    7. Payments made towards purchase of jewellery and bullion, if the amount in such case exceeds INR 5 lakhs.
    8. Payment made towards purchase of mutual fund schemes
    9. Payment made towards purchase of shares, if the amount exceeds INR 50,000
    10. Payment made towards acquisition of an insurance policy, if the amount is more than INR 50,000.
    11. To Remit money out of India
    12. To transfer of funds from NRE to NRO account

Advantages of PAN

  1. PAN card can be used as an identity proof as it contains information like name, age and photograph.
  2. It helps in keeping a track of tax payment as the same can be verified online. It can also be used to track financial information such as payment of taxes, details of investments made and debt liability of the assessee to a single customer.
  3. It is a unique number issued mandatory for all tax-paying entities. Hence, it ensures that the same is not misused for the purpose of tax evasion.
  4. The Permanent Account Number is valid for the entire life of the holder and does not change under any circumstances. If there is any change in the details of the PAN holder, new PAN card is issued with the updated details. However, in such case also, the PAN number on the PAN card remains same.

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