New Design for PAN Card


The Income Tax Department has prescribed a new format for PAN Cards issued after 1st January, 2017. The changes made to the new PAN Card have been listed below:

  • A Quick Response (QR) code has been printed onto the new PAN Card which will carry details of the card holder. This QR code can be used for verification of data.
  • New sections for the name of the card holder, the card holder’s father’s name, and date of birth have been added.
  • The location of the PAN and the signature of the card holder have been changed.

Old Design

The first series of PAN was launched in the country, in the year 1972. However, there were certain issues with that series which resulted in the issuing of the current PAN structure than we have.

  • A central database was not maintained and hence, there was absolutely no way to verify multiple PAN allocation to a taxpayer
  • The data that was stored for PAN holders was neither structured well nor did it capture detailed information except a few primary details like name, address etc.
  • PAN was not a permanent number since it depended upon the jurisdiction of the assesse and hence changed when the assesse changed his/her location

New Design

The old method of registering taxpayers which involved the General Index Register Number or the GIR was replaced by Permanent Account Number in the year 1972. However, this was the old series of PAN which still needed some improvements and had drawbacks as listed in the section above. Hence, in the year 1995, under an amended section 139A of the Income Tax Act, the new series of PAN was rolled out by the Income Tax Department.

The new PAN series facilitated the following points which were earlier not included in the old series of PAN –

  • Linking of all tax related information, current as well as past, to a single identification number
  • Easy retrieval of information from the central database. This is because with the launch of the new PAN series, the segregation and recording of data was done more effectively
  • Matching all financial information mapped against a single PAN, so that all loan details, credit and debit details as well as investment details could be tracked to a single customers and thereby reining in tax evasion

History of PAN in India

Earlier, before the concept of PAN was introduced, there was a GIR number assigned to taxpayers which was basically a manual system and as such was unique only within a ward or under a particular assessing officer. However, the number was not unique at the country level. In the year 1972, the concept of PAN was rolled out by the Indian government and was made statutory under section 139A of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The GIR number was allotted by the Assessing Officer to a tax payer and it included the Assessing Officer’s information as well.

Another problem with the GIR system was that it was not a unique number. A GIR was unique only in that particular ward/circle, resulting in errors or the chances of miscalculations during tax assessment.

The PAN card in its present form was first introduced in 1972, as a way to overcome these problems. Initially a voluntary process, it was made mandatory for all tax paying individuals in the country in 1976.

The initial PAN number allotments were made manually, and to avoid duplication, each ward/circle received a certain set of numbers. This series was abandoned in the year 1995 due to a host of problems associated with it.

In spite of these changes, the first avatar of the PAN card met with some difficulties, as mentioned below:

  • There was no database to maintain records of the PAN number allotted, with very limited information being recorded.
  • There was no centralised authority who issued the PAN cards, resulting in the possibility that different centres could allot the same number to different individuals in the country.
  • The PAN card number was not a permanent one as the number changed depending on the holder’s address.