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Different Types Of Ration Cards – Ration Card Status & Benefits

By Mayashree Acharya


Updated on: Sep 22nd, 2023


13 min read

In India, there are different types of ration cards. The state government categorises people and issues different ration cards according to the different categories.

What Is a Ration Card?

A ration card is an official document that is issued by the respective state governments. With the help of this card, qualifying households can buy food grains at subsidized rates according to the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.

Previously, based on the state governments’ identification, qualifying households could buy food grains at subsidised rates via the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

In 2013, the National Food and Security Act (NFSA) was passed to provide a certain quantity and quality of food to people at affordable prices. Currently, the state governments that have implemented the NFSA issue two types of ration cards to the qualifying families in their respective states, i.e. Priority Household (PHH) ration card and Non-priority Household (NPHH) ration card.

5 Different Types of Ration Cards in India

There are 5 different types of ration cards in India provided under the NFSA and TPDS, which are as follows:

  • Priority Household (PHH) ration card - This card is given to households that meet the eligibility criteria set by the government. Each household is entitled to 5kg of food grains per person per month. 
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration card - This card is issued to households that are identified as Antyodaya families by the government. Each household is entitled to 35kg of food grains per month per family.
  • APL (Above Poverty Line) ration card - This card was issued to households living above the poverty line.
  • BPL (Below Poverty Line) ration card - This card was issued to households living below the poverty line.
  • AY (Annapurna Yojna) ration card - This card was given to older people who are poor and above 65 years.

Please note that the APL, BPL and AY ration cards are no longer issued in India. Currently, only the PPH and NPHH cards are issued under the NFSA. 

Below are the details of the ration cards issued under the NFSA and TPDS.

Ration Cards Under NFSA, 2013

NFSA provides ration cards which are issued by the respective state governments. The distribution of food in fair price shops is according to the quantity and quality mentioned in the NFSA. The different types of ration cards under NFSA are:

Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY)

  • This type of ration card is given to poor families who do not have a stable income identified by the respective state governments.
  • Persons who do not have stable income, such as rickshaw pullers, daily labourers, coolies, etc., are issued this card.
  • Unemployed people, women and old aged people are also issued with this card.
  • These cardholders are eligible to receive 35kg of food grains per month per family. 
  • They are eligible to receive wheat of 15kg and rice of 20kg per family per month.
  • They receive foodgrains at the subsidised price of Rs.3 per kg for rice and Rs.2 per kg for wheat. 

Priority Household (PHH)

  • Families which are not covered under AAY fall under PHH.
  • The state governments identify priority household families under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) according to their exclusive and inclusive guidelines.
  • PHH cardholders receive 5kg of food grains per person per month.
  • Foodgrains are at the subsidised price of Rs.3 per kg for rice, Rs.2 per kg for wheat and Rs.1 per kg for coarse grains for these cardholders. 

Inclusion Guidelines

  • A transgender person.
  • A person with more than 40% disability.
  • All households which belong to primitive tribal groups.
  • Households with no shelter.
  • Households with a widow pension holder.
  • Households comprising destitute who are living on alms.

Exclusion Guidelines

  • Any household that has a pucca roof with a minimum of three rooms with pucca walls.
  • Households paying income tax.
  • Households comprising pensioners or a member who earns more than Rs.10,000 on a monthly basis in a rural area and Rs.15,000 in an urban area.
  • Households with a regular employee – gazetted or non-gazetted of State Government, Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Government aided local and autonomous bodies.
  • Households with a domestic electric connection with a load of 2 KW or more; consumes about 300 units of energy (KWH) on a monthly basis.
  • Households that have enterprises registered with the government for services and manufacturing.
  • Any household that has a motorized vehicle, a four-wheeler, a heavy vehicle, a trawler, two or more motorboats.
  • Households with mechanised agricultural equipment such as tractors, and harvesters.

Non-Priority Household (NPHH) 

NPHH ration card is given to households who do not meet the PHH eligibility criteria set by the government. Thus, they are not entitled to any food grains. This card only acts as an identity proof.

Ration Cards Under TPDS

Before NFSA’s introduction, the state governments issued ration cards under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). After passing NFSA, states started issuing ration cards under it (which are mentioned above). The state governments which are yet to enforce the NFSA system, still follow the old ration cards issued by them under TPDS. They are: 

Below Poverty Line (BPL)

  • Families that have BPL cards are the ones who are living below the poverty line as specified by the state government.
  • BPL families receive 10kg to 20kg of food grains per family per month at 50% of the economic cost.
  • The subsidised end retail price for specified quantities of wheat, rice, sugar and other items varies from state to state. Each state government fixes different rates per quantity.

Above Poverty Line (APL)

  • Families that have this card are the ones who are living above the poverty line as specified by the state government.
  • APL families receive 10kg to 20kg of food grains per family per month at 100% of the economic cost.
  • Each state government fixes a subsidised retail rate for rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene oil for a certain quantity.

Annapoorna Yojana (AY)

  • AY ration cards are given to older people who are poor and above 65 years.
  • Cardholders receive 10 kgs of foodgrains per month under this card.
  • State governments issue these cards to the older people who come under this scheme as specified by them.

How to Renew a Ration Card?

You can renew the ration card by following the steps given below

  1. Visit the nearest ration card Seva Kendras and complete the biometric process.
  2. For adding you and your family members, you will need to provide an Aadhaar based biometric authentication at the stage of filing an application. For children aged less than 5 years, biometric authentication is not needed; however, the Aadhaar card is mandatory. This application will then be processed for renewal.
  3. You will need to pay the service fee for renewal.

Colour Ration Card

The issuance of a colour ration card and its features vary from state to state. Colour ration cards were issued under the TPDS. The colours varied from state to state for BPL, APL and AY ration cards. Usually, three colour ration cards are issued, which are white, yellow (saffron) and green.

A few states which have adopted NFSA have discontinued issuing colour ration cards and issue cards according to NFSA, that is, AAY, PHH and NPHH cards.

Benefits and Uses of a Ration Card

  1. To access food supplies from a ration shop at subsidised rates.
  2. It is an accepted form of official identification throughout India as it is issued by the government. 
  3. It can be used as identification proof when applying for a PAN card.
  4. For opening a bank account and for making money transfers between bank accounts.
  5. To pay the correct levels of income tax.
  6. To get a new voter id card.
  7. To buy a mobile SIM card.
  8. For applying for a passport.
  9. For getting a driving license.
  10. For getting a new LPG connection.
  11. To withdraw life insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a ration card?

A ration card is a document issued by the State Government that serves as identity proof and indicates an individual’s economic status. It is a document that helps an individual to avail of various government benefits provided to the holders of the card.

How to apply for a ration card?

Each state government has prescribed separate application forms that can be submitted manually or online to obtain a ration card. An individual can get the application form from the respective state website or by visiting the respective appointed offices/centres prescribed by the state government. Individuals are required to pay a basic minimum fee and submit the required documents along with the application.

What is the National Food and Security Act (NFSA)?

The National Food and Security Act (NFSA) legally entitled up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidised foodgrains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). The TPDS aims to provide and address the issue of food security in households through the TPDS. The NFSA reforms in the TPDS, include schemes such as cash transfers for the provisioning of food entitlements.

Can I apply for a ration card if my family member already has a ration card?

No, the names of the members of the family are included in the ration card and the ration is provided for a family for each card based on the family size. If an individual is added as a family member to a ration card, then he/she cannot apply for a new one unless he/she moves to another city having a separate address and his/her name is removed from the existing ration card of the family member.

Can I add my family members as beneficiaries to my ration card?

Yes. You can add family members such as a spouse, children or daughter-in-law to your ration card. You can add members online or offline by submitting the required documents.

My ration card beneficiary is living in another state. Can the beneficiary receive the ration from my ration card in that state?

Yes. Under the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme, the beneficiary living in another state can receive his/her ration share from your ration card when he/she is added as a beneficiary to your card. However, if you take all the ration provided for your card, then the beneficiary cannot take the ration in another state.

Should I link my ration card with my Aadhaar card?

Yes, as per the government notification, linking your Aadhaar card with a ration card is mandatory to receive benefits. This is done to prevent any kind of duplicity and to ensure that eligible families do not get deprived of the benefits of ration cards by eliminating the holding of multiple ration cards by a single-family.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are solely for information purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.

Related Articles

Ration Card – Applicability, Eligibility & E-ration 

Link Aadhaar Card to Ration Card – Offline Procedure

Ration Card in Karnataka

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Quick Summary

In India, various ration cards are issued by state governments based on economic status. Ration cards help households purchase food grains at subsidized rates under the National Food Security Act. Cards include AAY, PHH, and NPHH, disbursing different quantities of food grains. Application process includes biometric authentication. Ration cards can be linked to Aadhaar for benefits. One Nation One Ration Card allows beneficiaries to access rations in different states.

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