Home » Laws & Taxes » Here’s Everything You Need to Know About PTA Mobile Registration
– Latest Updates on PTA Mobile Registration
– Why Register Your Phone?
– PTA Mobile Registration Process
– Paying Duty/Taxes to PTA
– What to Do When a Phone is Blocked?
– How to Unblock a Phone?
– How to Verify a Phone’s Registration?
– Common PTA Scams
– How to Contact the PTA?
– Buying a New Phone in Pakistan
– Impact of Mobile Registration Policy
Latest Updates on PTA Mobile Registration
UPDATE (March 07, 2022): Overseas Pakistanis and foreign national individuals can now temporarily register their mobile phone devices for 120 days during their stay in the country.
According to reports published by leading media outlets, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) have collaborated with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and mobile phone operators to introduce a new temporary registration system that will allow overseas Pakistanis and foreign nationals to use one mobile handset. It is important to mention that this module is only applicable for those who do not plan on keeping their devices in Pakistan.
To temporarily register their mobile phone, an individual must provide their name, passport number, date of arrival, intended date of departure, mobile SIM issued in their name, and the IMEI of their device. The newly developed system will reportedly verify the arrival date of the applicant with the Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) in real-time.
Please note that once the 120 days have passed, the IMEI registered under the system will be automatically suspended. If an individual visits Pakistan again, they will have to reapply for temporary registration of their device by using their previous or first credentials.
UPDATE (Feb. 25, 2021): The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collected PKR 4.99 billion in the first seven months of the fiscal year on the import of mobile devices through Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBs), according to data reported by a leading daily newspaper. This is a 34.47 percent increase compared to the preceding year.
PTA reported earlier this year the import of mobile devices via legal channels increased from 17.2 million in 2018 to 28.02 million in 2019, which was an impressive 63% increase.
Update (Jan. 22, 2021): Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, Pakistan’s telecom sector contributed PKR 278 billion in FY 2020, compared to PKR 121 billion in FY 2019, to the national exchequer. It was a 129% increase, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s annual report.
Update (12th June 2020): Considering that all mobile users have 60 days to register their devices and awareness has been created about device registration for all those travelling to Pakistan, the PTA has now removed its counter from the airport. PTA mobile registration can now only be done via automated online services from the DIRBS website or by visiting franchise centres/customer service centres of all major mobile networks nationwide.
Update (23rd April 2020): As the COVID-19 lockdown continues, the PTA has provided a further one-month extension to all those users who have not registered their phones for use with local sims. The extension is being made to promote and support social distancing in these difficult times. The blocking of unregistered phones will now begin from 19th May 2020, and each user will be communicated of this occurrence via SMS prior to blocking.
Update (19th March 2020): Considering the extraordinary circumstances caused due to the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and encouraging social distancing, the PTA has announced that it will not block any unregistered phones between 18th March and 18th April, giving all users an extra 30 days to use their device without registering it. The blocking of unregistered devices will begin again from 19th April, based on the due date for each individual device.
Thus, if you had used your unregistered device for 15 days by 18th March, you will have 45 days remaining (out of the total of 60 days) after 19th April to get it registered with the authority.
Update (6th January 2020): As had been expected at the end of 2019, the FBR has now decided to reduce the rate of duty being imposed on imported phones in Pakistan. Importing a phone has now become almost 86% cheaper, but only if your smartphone costs USD 100 or less.
With the move aimed at supporting the vision of ‘Digitising Pakistan’, a smartphone with a price of USD 100 or less can now be imported to the country for a flat duty of PKR 200, bringing much-needed relief and relaxation for the common man.
Earlier this year, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) made it mandatory for all mobile phone users in the country to register their phones, whether they are imported or locally purchased. Keeping in mind the far-reaching impact and the gravity of the situation, PTA mobile registration is seen as the most effective step taken to date by the concerned authority to address and curb the growing menace of mobile phone smuggling in Pakistan.
As such, every international traveller has to declare the mobile phone in their possession now and get it registered via the PTA mobile registration process if they want to use it with a local sim. We’ll share a detailed account on how to register a mobile phone with the PTA to help you stop your phone from being blocked by the authority. But first, let’s talk about why the implementation of this measure was so crucial for Pakistan’s economy.
Why Should You Register Your Phone with the PTA?
The PTA introduced its Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) in December 2018 for a couple of reasons, the first of which was the bring all the mobile phones currently in use in Pakistan into a net. Secondly, the system was also to be used to keep a strict check on the phones being imported and used in Pakistan. This move was aimed at curbing the illegal smuggling of phones into the country, while also boosting tax revenue for the government. Also, the registration of mobile phones with the PTA would make it easier to block stolen phones and prevent them from being sold and used in the black market.
A further move was taken to curb the smuggling of phones into the country in March 2020, when the PTA declared that only 5 phones could be imported into the country within a single year for personal use.
PTA Mobile Registration Process—How to Go about It?
If you have bought a phone from abroad and are travelling with it to Pakistan, the first step is to register it with the PTA. This can be done conveniently at the customs counter at the airport. If you missed out on registering your phone at the airport or opted to register it later, then you can also apply for mobile registration online via PTA’s Device Identification Registration and Blocking System or visit any franchise of the Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) in Pakistan for PTA device registration.
Registering Your Mobile at the Airport
All international travellers and people returning from international travels to Pakistan are encouraged to voluntarily visit the customs counter to declare any mobile phones that they have brought with them, especially if they plan on using them with a local sim for more than 60 days.
After you provide basic identification details, such as your passport number, your CNIC/NICOP number (for Pakistani nationals and Overseas Pakistanis), and your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, as well as a fully filled and signed declaration form at the customs counter, you will be informed about whether the phone meets the compliance standards set by the PTA.
A Certificate of Compliance (COC) will then be issued, and the system will auto-generate a Payment Slip ID (PSID) for payment of taxes/duty applicable on your phone, based on its Cost & Freight (C&F) Value in US Dollars. You can pay your dues immediately to register your phone. If you choose not to register your phone at the airport, then you can follow the same process at the franchises of all major cellular operators in the country. The given PSID will be valid for seven days after it is generated. You will need to generate a new one online if your payment is delayed for more than a week.
International travellers should keep in mind that they are only required to register their phones if they plan on using a local sim in their phone for more than 60 days. The same PTA mobile registration rule applies to overseas Pakistanis visiting Pakistan, too. Phones on roaming sims/cellular networks will work as usual, with no registration required.
Registering Your Mobile Online
If you want to apply for PTA mobile registration online, you’ll need to visit the official online portal for DIRBS. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to register a mobile phone with the PTA online:
Step 1: Visit the website.
Step 2: Create your account by providing some necessary details, such as your email address, your CNIC number or NICOP, and your contact number, among others. This will help you create an account on PTA’s website. You will then need to create a username and password for your account, as well.
Step 3: Log in to the website using the username and password for the account you have just created.
Step 4: Submit an application for a COC. The PTA mobile registration form will require you to enter your phone’s IMEI number, your contact number, and user type [Pakistani (Local/International Travellers/Dual Nationality Holder)] or [Foreigner (Travelled on Visa)].
Step 5: You will get a response from PTA on your registered email address and the contact number you mentioned on the registration form. The communication will include a unique PSID along with details of the duty that you are supposed to pay for your phone. The amount will vary based on the make and model of your phone, as the duty is applied based on its C&F Value in US Dollars.
Step 6: Pay the dues or taxes using online banking, ATM, or at a branch of any of the major banks, including the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Allied Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB), and others within seven days.
Step 7: The paid amount will be uploaded to your application once cleared, and you will then hear back from the PTA within 1-3 days about completing the PTA mobile registration process successfully.
This was the entire process of how to register your IMEI number online with the PTA.
Registering Your Mobile at Mobile Franchises
If you’ve forgotten to get your phone’s IMEI registered at the airport and find it difficult to understand the process online, you can visit the franchise of any CMO in the country, and they will process the registration for you on your behalf. The PTA had previously been entertaining walk-ins at their offices for mobile device registration, but as of 20th September 2019, the PTA has now authorised CMOs to do so instead. However, the facility is only available at selected customer service centres, so do browse through the list to find the one closest to your location.
Once you reach the franchise, the process is the same as the one at the airport. Pay your PTA mobile registration tax on the phone using your PSID and COC at any bank branch within a week and wait for a confirmation from the PTA via SMS.
Registering Dual Sim Phones with the PTA
When the DIRBS initiative was initially launched, only one IMEI could be registered via the application, causing problems for those who owned a dual sim phone, because both sim slots in such phones had their own unique IMEI. This is why the PTA extended the registration deadline for phones currently in use in Pakistan so that users with dual or triple sim phones could also register their devices with ease. It is important to note that you must register all of your IMEIs with the PTA in order to make a local sim card compatible with your phone.
Paying Duty/Taxes for PTA’s Mobile Registration
The submission of the COC form will generate a numeric code, called PSID. The PSID will be sent to your registered phone number via SMS and on your registered email address, along with the amount of tax/duty that you are required to pay to register your phone and make it compatible with all the mobile networks in the country.
When you visit the bank to pay your import duty, you must mention your PSID in the form to track your payment back to your PTA mobile registration application. You can do the same via online banking apps. NBP, MCB, and Allied Bank are three of the many banks that you can visit for paying your import taxes.
It is important to note that as of February 2020, the automatically generated PSID will only be valid for seven days. Once the payment is made, you will receive an SMS that the device is now approved by the PTA and that you can continue to use it in Pakistan.
How Much Duty is Applicable to Imported Phones in Pakistan?
The PTA mobile registration fee in Pakistan varies as per the make, model, and brand of your phone. The Cost & Freight value of the phone is used as a benchmark for imposing taxes, the values of which are calculated in US Dollars but are payable in PKR by all, including tourists visiting Pakistan and Pakistani citizens. Here’s a table that can give you a better overview of the rate of duty and taxes on mobile phones:
|Price of Imported Cellphones||New Import Duty FY21-22|
|$500 and above||PKR 85,500|
What to Do If Your Phone Gets Blocked by the PTA?
First of all, don’t panic if your phone gets blocked by the PTA. Also, please note that it will generally not happen immediately. You will be notified via an SMS beforehand that you need to register your phone in order to continue using a local Pakistani sim when the 60-day mark is approaching. All Pakistanis and foreigners who get their unregistered phone blocked by the PTA after 60 days can get it unblocked by visiting PTA’s official website or the PTA or FBR offices.
How to Unblock and Register a Phone with PTA
The process of unblocking a phone is similar to registering it. After filling the COC form, you will be given the PSID and the tax amount to be paid to unblock the phone. However, only original phones will be given a COC. Copies of original phones, clones, or clone phones cannot be registered with the PTA and will be permanently blocked.
Verifying Your Registration Using an IMEI Number
The Device Verification System (DVS) can be used to confirm whether your phone’s IMEI is registered with the PTA. Here’s how you can check if your IMEI number is registered or not.
Importance of an IMEI Number
An International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is a unique 15-digit code assigned to every mobile phone. The code, if blocked, will prevent anyone from using the phone to connect to a cellular network, and your phone will no longer be able to make or receive calls. This number is your cell phone’s unique identity and is a lifesaver when you need to get your phone blocked in case it gets lost or stolen. However, PTA does have its own guidelines for blocking stolen phones.
How to Check Your Mobile’s IMEI Number
There are a number of ways to check the IMEI number of your mobile phone:
- Dial *#06# from your phone to get your phone’s IMEI number. Your phone will have two or more IMEI numbers in case its a dual or triple-sim phone.
- Go to your phone’s settings and check the ‘About Phone’ information, which should contain its IMEI.
- Check the box of your new phone, which will have the IMEI printed on it.
- Find the IMEI number printed on the back of your phone if your phone has a removable battery.
Ways to Verify Your PTA IMEI Registration
If you have your IMEI number in hand and are asking yourself, “Is my phone registered with the PTA?”, then there’s a simple solution. Check the PTA mobile registration status of your phone using the IMEI number and the methods mentioned below:
Send an SMS to 8484
Upon sending an SMS to 8484, you will receive a reply almost immediately.
Visit the DIRBS Website
Go to the official portal of DIRBS and type in your 15-digit IMEI number. Press the submit button, and you will get a reply on the status of your IMEI.
Download the DVS App
The PTA has developed a proprietary app for Android devices. The app is free-to-use and downloaded from the Play Store for Android users. You can install the app and follow the instructions to add your IMEI number and get a status confirmation. iOS users will need to verify the status of their device via SMS or by visiting the website of the PTA.
PTA Mobile Verification—What Do the Replies Mean?
There are four possible replies that you will receive from the above methods for PTA mobile verification. We’ve elaborated on what they mean and what you should do next.
PTA compliant means that your device is already registered with the PTA.
IMEI is compliant/PTA non-compliant/IMEI valid means that the device’s IMEI is valid, and the make and model of the phone are approved by the PTA. You can pay the import duty applicable on the phone as per the processes that are mentioned above to make the phone PTA-compliant.
IMEI invalid means that the device you are using is not an original phone, and it cannot be registered with the PTA. It will, thus, be blocked indefinitely.
IMEI stolen means that the phone you have in your hands has been reported as stolen. You should report the matter at the nearest police station immediately.
Beware of Scams in the Name of PTA
The PTA urges individuals to purchase phones and sim cards on their own CNICs and to lodge a complaint against any threatening or fraudulent calls made to your number referring to the PTA. SMS-based announcements for cash prizes, unknown calls to inquire about your CNIC number and other personal details, or requests to call or SMS to a particular number with a code to win a prize, are just some of the many schemes most prevalent in the country.
Since the launch of DIRBS, some groups on social media also claim to be able to register your phone with the PTA without the need to pay taxes/duty on imported phones. These scams are just a means to earn some money in the name of a small fee, with the end result being that you will have to get the phone registered with the PTA ultimately in order to continue using it.
You can complain about any such calls and activities to your cellular network operator or to the PTA at 051-9225329-31 Ext: 155. You can also send a written complaint at email@example.com. Appropriate action will be taken to deal with such complaints, including blockage of the cellular service and mobile phone of the mischief-makers, with legal action being taken based on individual circumstances.
How to Contact the PTA?
The PTA has also launched a dedicated Consumer Support Center (CSC) with trained personnel in February 2020, to help people register their complaints with added convenience. The CSC services will be available seven days a week, between 9 am to 9 pm on their toll-free number: 0800-55055.
You can easily contact a representative of PTA on this number to get answers to your queries or register your complaints about telecom services, internet service providers, DIRBS, and much more.
FAQs about PTA’s Mobile Registration Process
We’ve shared some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about PTA mobile registration below:
How many phones can be registered by a single individual?
A total of five phones can be registered in a single year on one passport.
Is the first phone registration free of cost?
After people abused the relaxed policy, the PTA made registration and payment of taxes mandatory for every phone, as of July 2019. However, the FBR is considering a relaxation in the policy again, as of November 2019. We’ll keep you updated if a new policy or revisions in the current policy are announced.
Does the process of PTA mobile registration differ for different phones?
No, the process of getting your phone registered remains the same, irrespective of the make and model of your phone. The only thing that might change are the PTA mobile registration charges imposed upon it based on its Cost & Freight value.
Which mobile phones can be used in Pakistan and does it affect the PTA registration process in any way?
The PTA registration process remains the same irrespective of the brand of your mobile phone. Some of the most famous mobile phone brands in Pakistan include:
Will my choice of mobile network operator impact the PTA registration process in any way?
No, PTA mobile registration process remains the same for all major cellular operators in Pakistan. These include:
It is important to note that the process is the same for both prepaid and postpaid sims of the above-mentioned networks.
What if a specific brand of mobile phone is not approved by the PTA?
The PTA will only register authentic and original phones as part of its mobile registration process and if you have a clone or a copy of an original phone, or are using a phone brand that is not authorised/recognised by the PTA, your phone will be blocked for use with a Pakistani sim after 60 days. You are advised to avoid this inconvenience and purchase a new and registered phone for your use in Pakistan for the duration of your stay.
Do short-term travellers to Pakistan need mobile phone registration?
You can use a Pakistani sim in an unregistered phone for 60 days, after which the phone will automatically be blocked by the PTA. Thus, you only need to get the registration done if you are staying in Pakistan in the long run. Visitors in the country for a few weeks or even a month can skip the registration process without worrying about the duties and subsequent penalties.
How much duty do I have to pay for my phone?
You can check out the table above for a detailed answer, but generally, you will be charged anywhere between PKR 300 to PKR 32,000, based on the make and model of your phone.
Where can I pay for PTA’s mobile registration?
Online banking, ATMs, and branches of all the major banks will accept the duty payment against your PSID and COC.
Is there a time limit to paying my dues?
As of February 2020, the PTA has set a seven-day expiry for the autogenerated PSID. Thus, you need to pay the applicable taxes and dues to the FBR within this validity period.
What do I do if my PSID has expired due to non-payment?
In case of non-payment of dues within a week, the PSID will no longer be valid for your PTA mobile registration process. The expired PSID will also be erased from their system completely and no payment will be acceptable on it after it is invalid. You will then need to start your application process again to generate a new PSID for your phone’s registration.
Which currency is acceptable for the payment of the import duty?
While the phone’s C&F value will be calculated in USD, the payment is to be made to local banks in PKR only.
Do the phones blacklisted by the PTA become useless?
Phones that have been blacklisted or blocked by the PTA cannot be used with Pakistani sims anymore. However, whether you can get the phone unblocked will depend on the reason why your phone was blocked in the first place:
- If your phone was blacklisted because it is of a model that the PTA does not recognise/authorise or if it is a copy of an original phone, the phone will become useless once it is blacklisted.
- If your phone was blocked because you did not register it within 60 days but it is new and of an authentic make and model, you can get the phone unblocked by contacting the PTA directly via their website or by visiting their offices.
Can I change the IMEI number of my phone?
No, while people may tell you it’s possible, it is impossible and illegal to do so. It’s a common scam used to rob mobile owners of their money in the name of “service” charges.
Can PTA block a phone using its IMEI number?
Yes, it can. This is especially true for stolen phones as each phone has a unique IMEI that is its identity.
Does registering my phone and registering the IMEI number with the PTA mean the same thing?
Yes, your IMEI is your phone’s identity number and PTA mobile registration process uses that unique numerical code to register your phone into its system.
How many phones has the PTA blocked so far?
The PTA blocked nearly 3 million smartphones from the time that mobile registration became mandatory up to the mid of 2019. Most of these phones had been smuggled into the country illegally. However, as new phones are being registered by the PTA at the time of purchase or shortly thereafter, there is little need to block the phones on a larger scale anymore. The process is now undertaken on a case-to-case basis.
Is Pakistan the only country that requires foreigners to register their phones for longer stays?
As surprising as it may sound and as inconvenient as it may be for many travellers, Pakistan is not the first or the only country to have implemented this process. Countries like Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Russia, Uzbekistan, and many others in Asia, Africa, and South America have had similar systems in place for decades, which help them curb the illegal smuggling of phones into the country.
Buying a New Phone in Pakistan
It is important to note that you should only purchase PTA-approved phones from authorised sellers in order to avoid paying hefty import duty on your purchase. One way to identify smuggled phones is that they are often available for sale without a box and just the bare essentials, such as a charger, or a hands-free device, in some cases. Commonly known as ‘kits’ in the markets, these unpacked mobile phones are now less frequently available since the new policies have made it difficult to smuggle a phone into the country.
However, what if you still end up buying an unpacked phone and want to avoid getting it blocked by PTA? Well, the answer is simple. If you’ve verified your IMEI via the PTA mobile verification process and it is not stolen but is unregistered, go online, and use the process given above to pay your due taxes and get the phone registered for use in Pakistan. Call PTA’s helpline at 0800-55055 if you have any queries or concerns.
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The Impact of the PTA Mobile Registration Policy on Pakistan’s Economy
According to a representative of the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA), who was interviewed by The Express Tribune in June 2019, there are more than a million smartphones on sale in the Pakistani market every month, with nearly 40-60% of them being smuggled phones. There were also more than 150 million registered mobile phone users, in a statement from the PTA, taken at the same time.
More recently, in November 2019, statistics from the PTA showed that commercial imports were on the rise with a 110% increase this year. A decrease in smuggling was also noticed, with most importers registering their phones and paying their dues. Meanwhile, in a recent briefing by the PTA to the Senate at the beginning of December 2019, it was stated that more than 10 million phones were imported during 2018-2019, with around PKR 28.8 billion being collected in taxes. This shows that Pakistan’s economy is benefiting greatly from the imposition of taxes on the import of mobile phones, and PTA mobile registration has been a huge success.
We’ll keep you updated on the latest news with regard to the topic as it comes in, so don’t forget to bookmark the page. You can read more about the latest updates in the property world in Pakistan on Zameen Blog. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more queries.