A permanent account number (PAN) is a ten-digit alphanumeric number, issued in the form of a laminated card, by the Indian Income Tax Department, to any “person” who applies for it or to whom the department allots the number without an application.
It is a unique, ten-character alpha-numeric identifier, issued to all judicial entities identifiable under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961. The income tax PAN code and its linked card are issued under Section 139A of the Income Tax Act. 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.
It is also issued to foreign nationals (such as investors) subject to a valid visa, and hence that PAN is not acceptable as 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 lifetime of the holder, throughout India. Since a PAN is linked to an individual, a point worth to mention is that the PAN code is therefore not affected by any change of address.