Instructions for processing foreign visits of officers of the Government of India

Instructions for processing foreign visits of officers of the Government of India

Finance Ministry Instructions for processing foreign visits of officers of the Government of India for approval of Screening Committee of Secretaries (SCoS)

Finance Ministry has issued revised guidelines on foreign visit by Central Government Officers.


Government of India

Ministry of Finance

Department of Expenditure

New Delhi, the 5th January, 2016


Subject : Instructions for processing foreign visits of officers of the Government of India for approval of Screening Committee of Secretaries (SCoS).

In order to regulate foreign visits of Government of India officers and delegations and to make these visits more effective, the existing sets of guidelines/instructions on the subject have been comprehensively reviewed. The revised guidelines, as follows, are hereby circulated for strict compliance by all Ministries/Departments:

(1) Ministries/Departments shall upload the data related to foreign visits on the online Foreign Visit Management System (FVMS) which has been developed and can be accessed at the URL notified at the Department of Expenditure website. Each Ministry / Department has been provided with an user ID and Password for this purpose.

(2) To optimize the outcome from foreign tours of officers, each Ministry/Department shall prepare a Quarterly Rolling Plan (QRP) of proposed programmes/ visits for the next 3 months. Such a QRP will be uploaded on the FVMS and will be reviewed every month with one additional month being added to it. Only the essential foreign visits which cannot be avoided may be included.

(3) The level of officers and the strength of the delegation be worked out keeping in view factors such as expertise and manpower available with our Missions abroad, leveraging modern technology of tele-conferencing or video conferencing, etc. so as to keep the delegation size to the bare minimum. In respect of objectives that can be achieved through exchange of letters, tele/video conferencing or representation from our Missions abroad, no foreign visit need be undertaken.

(4) Duration of the visit shall also be kept to the absolute minimum. The administrative Secretary shall ensure in every case, that officers of appropriate functional level dealing with the subject are sponsored/ deputed instead of those at higher levels.

(5) Foreign visits shall not exceed 05 working days. Any delegation for foreign travel (irrespective of the level of officers), exceeding 05 working days or 05 members, shall be placed before the SCoS for approval.

(6) No officer shall undertake more than 04 official visits abroad in a year. For visits exceeding 04 by Secretary/equivalent, proposal shall be submitted for approval of the Prime Minister through SCoS. For visits exceeding 04 by officers below Secretary level, proposal shall be submitted to SCoS for approval. Ministries/Departments shall make efforts to ensure that at least two to three officers at appropriate levels are trained and made adept on concerned subjects so as to avoid repetitive visits of the same officers.

(7) Participation of officials in international fairs/exhibitions/workshops and conferences shall be discouraged. If considered essential, only the officer directly dealing with the subject shall be deputed. In such international events. if required to do so, a coordinated presence and projection of ‘Brand India’ should be attempted instead of individual Departments/ Ministries setting up individual stalls. For this purpose, depending on the nature of the exhibition, a nodal Department should be identified to take the lead in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs.

(8) In an outgoing Indian delegation, there need not be any Ministry of External Affairs’ official from India. Instead, services of the Indian Mission situated in the destination country could be utilised. Also. the practice of mobilisation of personnel by the host Mission from other Missions situated in other countries should not be resorted to. For any exceptional requirements, prior approval of the Cabinet Secretary should be obtained.

(9) Secretaries to Government shall travel abroad only when their presence is required and no one else can be deputed instead.

(10) Secretaries shall not undertake any foreign visits during the Parliament Session unless it is absolutely unavoidable.

(11) The Minister and the Secretary shall not. normally, be away from the headquarters at the same time. If, however, both are required to be deputed abroad, the necessity for deputing the Secretary at the same time as the Minister may be brought out clearly for consideration of Prime Minister through SCoS.

(12) Proposals relating to foreign visits/deputation abroad of officers of the rank of Secretary and Additional Secretary shall continue to be sent to SCoS except visit to SAARC countries {including Myanmar).

(13) The proposals for the visit to SAARC countries (including Myanmar) will be decided by the Ministries concerned in consultation with their Financial Advisers (FAs). However, proposals of foreign tour of Secretary accompanying the Minister to SAARC countries will require to be submitted to the SCoS for approval.

(14) In respect of foreign visits of officers, all cases which require approval of the SCoS shall be submitted to Department of Expenditure after obtaining the approval of competent authority viz. Minister-in-Charge with the concurrence of FA.

(15) Composite delegation led by Secretary/Additional Secretary comprising officers of the level of Joint Secretary and below including non-officials (visiting at Government cost), is to be submitted for SCoS approval. The proposal shall not be split and details of the entire delegation shall be sent to the SCoS.

(16) Visits of officers of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)/Autonomous Bodies (ABs) are exempted from SCoS procedure unless they form part of a composite delegation from the administrative Ministry.

(17) Expenditure on the foreign visit of officers of Ministries/Departments shall be borne by Government only, even if the visit of the officer(s) is in his capacity as ex-officio member of PSUs/ABs or otherwise, and in connection with affairs of PSUs/ABs. Any proposal for relaxation in this regard shall be referred to Secretary (Expenditure).

(18) Visit of non-officials at Government cost will require approval of PM. Their visits are to be routed through SCoS only if they form a part of a composite delegation. In other cases, the PM is to be approached (through PMO) by the administrative Ministry directly.

(19) There shall be no objection in accepting international air travel costs and hospitality from an international body of which India is a member or the visit abroad is covered under bilateral/multilateral agreement or under a regular exchange programme. The terms and conditions on deputation shall not be supplemented with the terms and conditions on deputation offered by the Government of India viz. the mode and class of travel. Payment of cash allowance and other allowances including local travel and stay in hotel would be as per the terms offered by the foreign Government/ sponsors.

(20) Invitations received directly by the officers by virtue of expertise in a particular field and where no particular Government of India business is to be transacted will be treated as personal visits. Such visits in respect of Additional Secretary and above level officers require SCoS approval. The officer would have to take leave for the period of such visits and such visits are not to be undertaken at government costs.

(21) Proposals shall be submitted along with deputation proforma containing all relevant details (including political clearance from MEA and FCRA clearance from MHA, if required). Only those proposals are to be referred to SCoS where funds are available to bear the expenditure on the foreign visit.

(22) Proposals, complete in all respects, seeking approval of SCoS shall be submitted to Department of Expenditure 15 days prior to departure date of delegation.

(23) Deputation abroad of officers of the level above Director upto Joint Secretary will be decided by Ministries/Departments, under delegated powers, in consultation with their FA and with the approval of the Minister-in-charge. Foreign visits of officers upto the level of Director and equivalent will be decided by the administrative Secretaries in consultation with the concerned FA.

(24) Deputations of officers upto the level of Joint Secretaries in Ministries/Departments and officials from PSUs/ Autonomous Bodies, etc. shall also be regulated in accordance with the spirit of these guidelines.

(25) The leader of the delegation shall upload the tour report in the requisite format on FVMS and also submit the same to the Minister containing, inter-alia. the major achievements from the tour and post-visit outcomes. A copy of the report shall also be marked to Department of Expenditure and Ministry of External Affairs.

2. These instructions are in supersession of all earlier instructions on the subject.

3. This issues with the approval of Finance Minister.

(Annie G. Mathew)

Joint Secretary to the Government of India

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