Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a code that acts as identification of Indians, especially those who pay Income Tax. It is a unique, 10-character alpha-numeric identifier, issued to all judicial entities identifiable under the Indian Income Tax Act 1961. An example number would be in the form of AAAPL1234C.
It is issued by the Indian Income Tax Department under the supervision of the Central Board for Direct Taxes(CBDT) and it also serves as an important proof of identification.
Like the Aadhaar Number and Driving License, it is also issued to foreign nationals (such as investors) subject to a valid visa and hence, it is not acceptable as a proof of Indian citizenship. The PAN is mandatory for a majority of financial transactions such as opening a bank account, receiving taxable salary or professional fees, sale or purchase of assets above specified limits etc.; especially high-value transactions.
The primary purpose of the PAN is to bring a universal identification to all financial transactions and to prevent tax evasion by keeping track of monetary transactions, especially those of high-net-worth individuals who can impact the economy. The PAN is unique to each individual and is valid for the life time of the holder, throughout India. An important point to note would be that once issued, the PAN is not affected by a change of address.