People who travelled to Pakistan but got stuck here under lockdown beyond the two-month registration deadline may be facing fines for using their cell phones with local SIMS unless the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority extends its deadline a third time.
Earlier last year the PTA and Federal Board of Revenue rolled out a system to register mobile phone devices for everyone coming to Pakistan and staying here for over two months. This decision was taken to prevent smuggling. This meant that if someone lands in Pakistan and puts a local SIM in their phone they can only use that device for 60 days without registering their phone with the PTA and federal revenue authority. If you failed to register your device within 60 days it can be blocked and you will have to pay duties and taxes and fines to have it unblocked.
The PTA has said that due to the lockdown and suspension of flight operations it has already extended the limit from 60 days to 120 days. “I can’t comment on any further developments in this case but the messages received by people to pay their duties are automated, and upon any amendment we will inform them,” said PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran.
Mehran said they may announce a new extension. “The PTA will reassess the situation near the deadline,” he said. The first deadline was March 18 which was first extended to April 18 and then to May 18.
The PTA had tweaked this rule in July 2019 to include even devices for personal use. Previously the rule was that devices for personal use for each individual would be registered for free. Now devices that are going to use a local SIM have to be registered under the passport with a 10% discount for a 60-day period, according to the FBR.
According to the PTA website, “If a local SIM is used in the mobile then it will require registering the IMEI of the mobile with the PTA after payment of duty and taxes.”
People who got stuck in Pakistan because of the lockdown find that they have run over the free 60-day period. The PTA has sent warnings they need to pay the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking Service (DIRBS) duty.
The DIRBS charges list is on the FBR website. It has six slabs for a range of devices, starting from $30 and going to the $500 and above category. Devices that cost up to $30 will be liable to pay Rs300 while devices that cost above $500 will pay Rs31,520 to register with the PTA. That has to be paid within 60 days of the local SIM being inserted.