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What Does Your PAN Card Tell About You

The Permanent Account Number (PAN) card is an essential identification document for individuals and businesses in India. This unique alphanumeric identifier is essential for various financial and non-financial transactions, making it an indispensable part of the life of every Indian citizen. To fully appreciate its importance, one must delve into the intricacies of the PAN card structure.
Structure of PAN card
1. PAN card number
The heart of the PAN card is a number consisting of 10 alphanumeric characters. This number is unique to each PAN cardholder and follows a specific structure. The PAN number is a combination of letters and numbers, usually similar to the format “ABCPD1234E”. Let’s break this structure down:
a. The first three characters are letters, which are strings from AAA to ZZZ. The 4th character is the letter indicating your category. The holder can be a Hindu individual/firm/family/company/government agency/local authority. They serve as a unique identifier for the PAN holder.
b. The next four characters are numerals, representing a sequential number, ranging from 0001 to 9999.
c. The last character is also a letter, which is a check digit. It is calculated based on a specific formula to ensure the integrity of the PAN number. It is used to detect data entry errors.
2.. Detailed information about the cardholder
PAN card contains important information about the cardholder including:
a. Full name:
Full name of the individual or legal entity recorded on the card. This is necessary for identification and verification purposes.
b. Photo:
The cardholder’s photo is printed on the card for easy visual identification.
c. Signature:
The cardholder’s signature is also included, serving as an additional layer of authentication.
d. Date of birth/establishment:
For individual cardholders, the date of birth is mentioned, while for companies, the date of establishment is provided.
e. Father’s name:
In case the cardholder is an individual, the father’s name is mentioned for later identification.
3. Cardholder Type
The structure of the PAN card also includes a category indicator. PAN cards are issued to various entities such as individuals, businesses, trusts, foreign nationals, etc. This category is represented by a specific code on the card, such as “P” for personal, “C” for business, “T” for trust, “F” for business, and “A” for Associations.
4. Permanent Account Number (PAN)
The actual PAN number is prominently displayed on the card. This is the primary identifier and is used for all financial transactions and tax-related activities.
5. Barcode
The PAN card has a barcode that contains encrypted information about the cardholder. This barcode is commonly used for quick scanning and data retrieval in various processes, making it an important part of the tag structure.
6. Validity
PAN cards usually do not have an expiry date for each cardholder. However, for businesses and trust funds, the expiration date is written on the card. The lack of expiration date for each card is because the PAN number is valid for life and remains the same throughout the cardholder’s usage period.
7. Issuing Authority
PAN Card indicates the authority responsible for issuing the card, which is the Income Tax Department of India. This adds an element of officiality to the card and confirms its authenticity.
8. Security function
To ensure the PAN card’s security and authenticity, several anti-counterfeiting features are incorporated into the card. These features may include holograms, watermarks, and secure printing techniques to prevent fraudulent duplication.

The structure of a PAN card is designed with precision to provide a unique identifier for individuals and businesses in India. The alphanumeric PAN number, combined with essential cardholder details, category, and security features, ensures that it serves its intended purpose effectively. Understanding the structure of a PAN card is crucial for every Indian citizen, as it is a fundamental document for various financial and non-financial transactions and plays a pivotal role in tax compliance and identification. The structure of the PAN card, with its carefully designed components, ensures integrity and security while serving as an essential tool for many purposes in India.

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