The government has extended the deadline for registering your mobile phones till January 15 and softened its earlier policy of blocking the unregistered handsets, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday.
In October, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had said it would block all mobile phones whose International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is not registered with it till October 20. The deadline was extended till December 31 after public backlash and panic.
The government has now extended the deadline till January 15 and also made a change in its policy, the minister said. Those with non-duty paid, unregistered mobile phones can now get their devices registered even after January 15, but they will pay a fine, which will be equal to 10% of customs duty.
The government has formed this policy to curb smuggling of mobile phones that evade taxes by using one IMEI number for multiple (read hundreds of thousands) mobile phones.
IMEI is a unique code given to your mobile by its maker just like the vehicle identification number. The government uses this number to identify a valid phone on a network (Jazz, Telenor or Zong for example) and can block the handset’s access to the network. If the PTA blocks your mobile phone’s IMEI number, you cannot use it on any mobile network in Pakistan—the phone will simply not function.
To find out your phone’s IMEI number, you can dial *#06# from your smartphone or in case of the feature phone just find it printed in the battery compartment. Texting your IMEI number to 8484 will confirm if it is registered.
If you have purchased a branded (packed) phone from the market, it will be duty paid. In that case you don’t have to worry because when you insert your SIM or connect with a network for the first time, your phone is registered automatically. However, if you have bought a Chinese phone of an unknown brand or unpacked phone, also known as kits in the local market, your device will be blocked after January 15. To get it unblocked, you will have to pay a fine equal in value to 10% of the customs duty on the given handset.