What happens when you import a mobile phone to India?
Few years ago importing cell phones was like bringing a bunch of keychains with you. You could pocket as many as you want and no one questioned you. It was really effortless! All this has changed though. Now, there are several rules and restrictions when it comes to importing a mobile phone. On top of that, more new rules are constructed, thanks to the Government of India.
Apparently, the Indian Government hasn’t come to terms with the current mobile importing scenario. And so they are taking important steps in this case. What are they, you ask?
=> From now on every GSM handset makers should submit IMEI authenticity certificate.
Having these certificates makes it easy for the government to spot mobile phones illegally entering India.
But what exactly is this authenticity certificate? And how does it relate to imported mobile phones in India?
Let’s break it down in simple words. You see, every mobile phone has an IMEI number, which is a 15 digit random code. Just like our unique fingerprints, we have a unique IMEI code for every cell phone. If the IMEI is invalid, the phone is useless.
Anyway, the IMEI number has various benefits. As mentioned in our IMEI tracking guide, network carrier can use the IMEI number to find the location of the mobile phone. It can also be used to blacklist a mobile phone.
This is important to remember. Not having access to IMEI number can lead to many problems, which is explained briefly in our next section.
But why exactly does the government require IMEI authenticity certificate? Because many phones are imported illegally in India. And having a certificate ensures that every phone that is purchased in foreign country can be used in India too, given the import duty is paid for and the GSM network has provided IMEI certificate to the government.
The Big Problem: Invalid IMEI Numbers
Phones with fake and unauthorised IMEI numbers are thousands in numbers. If we look in the past, when mobiles phone were not quite as frequent as today, Chinese manufacturers launched phones with no IMEI codes. Why? Because no one ever thought there was a need for such a number.
Not having an IMEI number for a phone meant that blocking the phone or getting the current location was next to impossible.
So now, the government of India wants to make sure every imported phone gets registered for its authenticity. For this they are in talks with GSM handset makers…
Registering IMEI Number As Valid
How does one actually find out whether the phones that are imported have fake or invalid IMEI codes? It’s a tricky task.
Every GSM handset maker — Apple, Samsung, Micromax, BlackBerry, Sony, Nokia — have an IMEI certificate issued by agencies. These agencies are accredited by GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), which is a global body (with over 800 mobile operators) representing GSM operators.
IMEI Number authenticity certificates will help in getting rid of all the imported phones that are not registered with local GSM network.
The Indian telecom department also plans to setup an online database wherein we have all the registered IMEI numbers of imported GSM phones. This move will help in understanding the current mobile circulation in India.
The database will be available at all the customs check-points in India.
Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has also requested that every mobile’s SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) and IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) value are disclosed in all the future handset imports.