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Every taxpayer in the country is asked at least one specific detail when filing their tax return – what is his/her PAN Card number? PAN, which stands for Permanent Account Number, is a unique number allotted to every individual who applies for it. The card which is issued containing the number and identity details of the individual is called the PAN Card. The PAN card number is a mandatory requirement for filing tax returns and also for making financial investments. The PAN number search identifies the individual for taxation purposes and it contains all the relevant financial data of the individual in its storage. How often have you been asked to submit your PAN details? Common examples are when you open a bank account, when you file your tax, when investing in any financial instrument or conducting any finance related activity. Knowing your PAN number is therefore a priority for many aspects of your financial life. So, let us figure out the complete details of this all-too-important card.

What is the PAN Card?

A PAN card is a card issued under the Income Tax Act, 1961 and it contains a unique 10-digit alphanumeric code. This code is computer-generated and is unique to the holder of the card.

Who can avail a PAN Card?

The PAN Card is not only issued to individuals. Companies and partnership firms can also avail a PAN Card and it becomes mandatory for such entities to have a PAN number when they are filing their income tax returns. Even in case of individuals, minors, students and Non-Resident Indians can also apply PAN Card online.

History of PAN Card in India

Before PAN Card was introduced in India, (General Index Register) GIR came into existence. It was a manual system that was unique to the assessing officer’s ward/circle which also resulted in errors and miscalculations. However, GIR was not unique to the individual at the country level. In the year 1972, the concept of Permanent Account Number (old series) was first introduced by the Government of India and was made statutory under the section 139A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 with effect from 1st April 1976.

Different blocks of PAN were allotted to each Commissioner by the Board and Commissioners were responsible for allotment of PAN to the taxpayers under various assessing officers. Allotment of PAN Card was made manually initially, and to avoid duplication, each ward/circle was provided with a certain set of numbers. But Government of India abandoned this process due to various problems associated with it.

The PAN under old series faced various problems and eventually could not meet the desired objectives because of the following reasons:

  • There was no database maintained to check the allotment of multiple PANs to taxpayers.
  • Non-structured database under computerized system was limited to a few parameters- Name, Address, Status and Designation of Assessing Officer.
  • There was no centralised authority who could issue the PAN Cards, resulting in the possibility that different centers could allot the same number to different individuals in the country.
  • There was no permanent number for the taxpayers which ultimately resulted in the change in PAN number with the address of the cardholder.

To avoid the risk of getting it plagarised, Government of India took the step of introducing new series of PAN card. Section 139A of Income Tax Act was amended with the effect from 01.07.1995 to enable the allotment of PAN under the new series to persons residing in the areas notified by the Board. Also, applications for allotment of PAN under the new series were made mandatory in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai with effect from 01.06.1996 and in the rest of country from 11.02.1998.

How to Apply for PAN Card Online/Offline

A PAN Card can be applied for in two ways. One can apply online for pan card through the popular online pan card application process or alternately, the offline mode of PAN card application may also be used. In the following sections we will discuss the methods you can use to apply for and get a PAN card.

Online PAN Card Application Process -

Here are the steps which are to be followed when applying for the PAN Card using the online mode of application and PAN card registration:

Step 1: Visit the relevant website of NSDL or UTIITSL for online application for PAN Card. Step 2: On the website select the option ‘New PAN’ on the home page. Step 3: There is a new PAN Card Form 49A which should be selected for individuals whether they are Indian Citizens, NRE/NRI or OCI Individuals. Step 4: This form should be filled with the individual’s details. Step 5: The applicant would also be required to pay the processing fee online of through a Demand Draft after submitting the form to initiate processing of the form. Step 6: The final page which is generated after paying the fees and submitting the filled out PAN Form 49A contains the 15-digit acknowledgement number. Step 7: The acknowledgement form should be sent to the NSDL PAN office by courier within 15 days of online submission of Form 49A along with the concerned documents. Step 8: After the acknowledgement form is couriered to the NSDL office, PAN no. verification is done and the Card is generated after the NSDL PAN verification. The physical PAN card is sent to the customer’s address as mentioned in the form within a period of 15 days.

Offline PAN Card Application Process –

Applying for the PAN Card can also be done offline at any district-level PAN agency.

Download the PAN card application form from the NSDL or UTIISL websites or collect a copy from UTIISL agents. Fill in the form and attach supporting documents (proof of identity, address and photographs) Submit the form and documents to the NSDL office along with the processing fee. The PAN card will be sent to the address mentioned in the form within 15 working days.

PAN Card Forms

People can apply for a PAN card by filling Form 49A or Form 49AA. In case of Indian individuals/entities, form 49A is filled where as in case of foreigners, PAN card form 49AA is to be filled. Although PAN card for minors and students can also apply by filling PAN card form 49A. Both forms are available online as well as offline. The components of both forms are as follows – Assessing Officer Code (AO Code), name, address, date of birth, mobile number and email id, Aadhaar number, etc. In the end, the applicant has to sign the declaration and send it along with the self-attested copies of document proofs to TIN-NSDL’s office.

Documents Required for a PAN Card

While availing a PAN Card, some key documents are also required to be submitted along with the PAN Card application form (Form 49A or Form 49AA) or the acknowledgement form (if applying online) for PAN card verification process. The requirement of documents varies greatly depending on the applicant. Key documents which are required along with the PAN application form when individuals or other entities apply for a PAN card. Find below the list of documents required for pan card :

For an individual applicant:

  • Identity Proof which can be a copy of any one among the following:
    • Any govt. issued ID – Aadhar, DL, Voter ID, etc.
    • Arm’s License
    • Pensioner Card which contains the applicant’s photograph
    • A photo ID card which is issued by Central Government, State Government or a Public Sector Undertaking
    • Central Government’s Health Scheme Card or Ex-Servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme Photo Card
    • An original bank certificate which is issued on the bank’s letterhead from the branch of the bank and attested by the issuing officer. Such a certificate should contain an attested photograph of the applicant along with the bank account number.
  • An address proof which can be a copy of any one of the following:
  • Electricity, landline or broadband connection bill
  • Postpaid mobile phone bill
  • Water bill
  • LPG or piped gas connection bill or Gas Connection book
  • Bank account statement
  • Credit card statement
  • Deposit account statement
  • Post Office account Passbook
  • Passport
  • Voter’s ID Card
  • Driving License
  • Property registration document
  • Domicile certificate issued by the Indian Government
  • Aadhar Card
  • Original certificate from the employer provided that the employer is a reputed public or private corporation
  • Date of birth proof which can be a copy of any one of the following:
  • Birth certificate which is issued by the Municipal Authority or any authorized authority
  • Matriculation certificate
  • Pension Payment order
  • Passport
  • Marriage certificate issued by Registrar of Marriages
  • Driving license
  • Domicile certificate issued by the Indian Government
  • An affidavit sworn before a magistrate stating the applicant’s date of birth

For a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)

  • An affidavit issued by the Karta of the HUF stating the name, address and the father’s name of every coparcener as on the date on which the application is made.
  • Identity proof, address proof and date of birth proof as in case of an individual for the Karta of the HUF.

For a company registered in India

  • A copy of the Certificate of Registration issued by the Registrar of Companies.

For firms and Limited Liability Partnerships formed or registered in India

  • A copy of the Certificate of Registration issued by the Registrar of Firms or Limited Liability Partnerships.
  • A copy of the Partnership Deed.

For Trust formed or registered in India

  • Copy of Trust Deed or a copy of the Certificate of Registration Number issued by a Charity Commissioner.

For an Association of Persons

  • Copy of Agreement/Certificate of Registration Number from Registrar of Co-operative Society or Charity Commissioner or other competent authority or any document issued by the Central/State Government which shows identity and address of applicant.

For individuals who are not Indian Citizens

  • A proof of identity which can be any one of the following:
  • Passport copy
  • Copy of PIO card issued by the Indian Government
  • Copy of OCI Card issued by the Indian Government
  • Copy of other national or citizenship Identification Number or TIN attested by applicable ‘Apostille’, Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate where the applicant is based.
  • Address proof can be any one of the following:
  • Passport copy
  • Copy of PIO card issued by the Indian Government
  • Copy of OCI Card issued by the Indian Government
  • Copy of other national or citizenship Identification Number or TIN attested by relevant ‘Apostille’, Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate
  • Copy of bank statement of the residential country
  • Copy of NRE bank statement in India
  • Copy of resident certificate or Residential permit
  • Copy of registration certificate issued by FRO
  • Copy of VISA granted and appointment letter from any Indian company

How to apply for a duplicate PAN card if you have lost your original PAN Card?

In case you have lost your PAN card, you can apply for a duplicate PAN card online as well as offline. TIN-NSDL and UTIITSL allow people to fill the form and make the payment online for a duplicate copy of your PAN card. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Go to TIN-NSDL or UTIITSL website and apply for a duplicate copy of your PAN card.
  • Fill the form 49A in case of Indian citizen and Form 49-AA in case of foreigners.
  • Make the payment online or get a demand draft issued.
  • Now take the print out of your form and send it to: Income Tax PAN Services Unit, NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited, 5th Floor, Mantri Sterling, Plot No. 341, Survey No. 997/8,Model Colony, Near Deep Bungalow Chowk, Pune – 411 016
  • You will receive your PAN card in next 45 days.

Types of PAN Card

Since a PAN Card can be availed by both individuals and entities, different types of PAN Cards need to be applied through different variants of Form 49 that are issued by the government. Here are the different types of PAN Cards and the different Forms used for availing the same.

PAN Card for Individuals

This is the most common variant of the PAN Card that is issued to individuals. This card is applied through Form 49A available online through the NSDL and UTIITSL websites. Individuals include any resident Indian including minors and students as they are also eligible for a PAN card.

PAN Card for Non-Resident Individuals or Persons of Indian Origin

NRIs and PIOs can avail a PAN Card for the purpose of taxation in India. They too would have to submit Form 49A for availing this card.

PAN Card for foreign entities paying tax in India

Firms or corporates which are registered outside India but pay tax in India by virtue of their business operations conducted in India can also avail a PAN Card. They would have to fill and submit Form 49AA as part of the PAN card application process.

PAN Card for OCI and NRE

Overseas Citizens of India and Non Resident Entities can also apply for a PAN Card. The relevant form which should be filled out by them when applying for the PAN card is Form 49AA.

PAN Card for Indian Companies

Firms and corporate entities registered as well as working in India can also apply for a PAN Card for their financial and tax-related transactions.

Structure of PAN Card – PAN Card Details

A PAN card contains some very basic information which also qualifies it as an identity and an age proof when complying with the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines. The details contained in the card are as follows:

  • Name of the cardholder– The primary and the most noticeable detail on the PAN Card is the name of the cardholder. In case of an individual, it is the individual’s name, in case of a company, the registered name of the company and in case of a partnership firm, the name of the firm is mentioned on the PAN Card.
  • Name of the father of the cardholder– This is applicable in case of individual cardholders. The name of the father of the cardholder is mentioned beneath the name of the individual.
  • Date of birth– The cardholder’s date of birth is mentioned beneath the name of the father in case of an individual’s PAN card. This detail acts as the date of birth proof of the cardholder. In case of companies and partnership firms, their date of registration is mentioned in this field.
  • PAN Number– The next and the most important content of the card is the PAN number or the Permanent Account Number. The PAN number is unique to every person/entity holding the card and it contains some key information. The number is generated based on the details provided by the entity. It is a 10 letter alpha-numeric number and each character represents information. Such information is as follows:
  • First three letters– These three letters are purely alphabetical in nature and contain three letter of the alphabet from A to Z.
  • Fourth letter– The fourth character of the PAN number represents the category of tax payer the entity is. The various entities and their respective characters are as follows:
  • A – Association of Persons
  • B – Body of Individuals
  • C – Company
  • F – Firms
  • G – Government
  • H – Hindu Undivided Family
  • L – Local Authority
  • J – Artificial Judicial Person
  • P – Individual
  • T – Association of Persons for a Trust
  • Fifth letter– the fifth letter is the first letter of the individual’s surname
  • Remaining letters– remaining characters are random. The first 4 characters are numbers while the last one is an alphabet.
  • Signature of the individual– the last detail on the PAN card is the signature of the individual. As such, a PAN Card also acts as a proof of the individual’s signature required for various financial transactions.
  • Photograph of the individual – the photograph of the cardholder is also present in the lower right hand side of the PAN Card which makes the card eligible to act as a photo identity proof of the individual. In case of companies and firms, no photograph is present on the card.

Advantages of PAN Card

The key uses of a PAN Card can be illustrated as follows:

  • For filing tax returns – Individuals and entities (companies, partnership firms, HUFs, etc.) are required to quote their PAN numbers whenever they file a tax return. This is a mandatory requirement. If there is no PAN card, individuals and entities would be required to pay a flat tax of 30% on their earning irrespective of the income-tax bracket they might fall in. So, for the purpose of taxation, a PAN number is required and one can check PAN card status by PAN number
  • Registration of business – companies, partnership firms, Hindu Undivided Families or other entities who seek registration of their businesses cannot do so if they do not have a PAN number to quote in the registration details.
  • For conducting financial transactions – A host of financial transactions can be done only if the PAN card no. of the individual/entity is available. Some common transactions facilitated by the PAN card include sale or purchase of any immovable property the value of which is Rs.5 lakhs and above, sale or purchase of any vehicle except a two-wheeler, depositing any amount higher than Rs.50,000 in a bank, buying bonds valued at Rs.50,000 or above, remitting funds outside India, travel expenses made for travelling overseas if such expenses are in excess of Rs.25,000, buying mutual fund schemes, buying insurance policies or shares valued at Rs.50,000 and above, etc.
  • For availing utility connections – In many instances when utilities like a post-paid mobile phone connection, LPG connection, electricity connection, internet connection, etc. are required, a PAN card comes in handy. However, it is always recommended that you use alternate ID proof such as DL, Voter ID card, etc. if possible.
  • For opening a bank account – Nowadays the bank’s Know Your Customer (KYC) norms have become quite stringent and the PAN card is a primary requirement, banks carry out their individual number verification when opening a bank account.

PAN Card tracking/PAN Card Enquiry / PAN Card Online Status Check

Know your PAN status – One can track PAN Card status online after the applicant has applied for it. The PAN Card application status can be tracked where the PAN status shows whether the card has been issued or not or if it is currently in transit. The applicant can check PAN Card status or check UTI PAN card status/NSDL PAN card status on the respective websites. The UTI PAN Card status is available on UTIITSL and the NSDL PAN status is available on the NSDL website and both show the respective PAN application statuses. The status of PAN Card can thus be tracked online and one can figure out the online PAN Card status by name and date of birth entered in the websites.

Making changes in a PAN Card

Existing PAN card holders can make changes on their existing PAN Card details while at the same time retaining the PAN Number. Any correction in the details contained in the PAN Card can also be made using this procedure. For this a PAN Card update or correction form needs to be filled and submitted to the relevant authority.

Duplicate PAN Card

For a lost PAN Card, the applicant can also apply for a duplicate one by submitting the required form and paying the applicable fee for application processing.

What happens if you don’t have a PAN Card?

There are a number of reasons why you should have a PAN card:

  • You won’t be able to make financial transactions above Rs 50,000 without furnishing your PAN.
  • PAN is mandatory for buying or selling an asset or property.
  • You won’t be able to file Income Tax Returns without your PAN card.
  • Your application for credit card/loan would be rejected if you don’t mention your PAN in it.