Mobile Phones’ IMEI registration going online; NTA hoping to completely shut down grey market

It has been sometime now since Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) made IMEI registration mandatory in Nepal. However, except for the official importers, not many have registered their smartphones’ IMEI until now. In a bid to increase that number, NTA has started online IMEI registration which is certain to make things easier for the users. At an event organized yesterday, NTA mentioned that it is also encouraging importing mobile phones via the official channel, i.e. legally.

NTA had made IMEI registration compulsory in April 2016. It had even said that the phones with unregistered IMEI numbers would become dysfunctional from April 1, 2017. However, citing various reasons, the government-owned telecommunication company chose not to take the action.

Since NTA made IMEI registration mandatory, over 17 million IMEI numbers have been registered in NTA’s books. The company claims that since the start of the campaign, the number of illegal import of smartphones has decreased significantly over the years. And to be even more effective, NTA is finally set to implement its rule of making unregistered devices dysfunctional. According to Min Prasad Aryal, Managing Director for NTA, the company will appoint a third-party team to make unregistered mobile phones inoperable soon.

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Objectives of the Legislative Provision:

  • To meet the requirements of the national and consumer security
  • To identify the genuine mobile handsets and make the fake and non-genuine handsets inoperable in Nepal
  • To enable tracking/blocking of mobile handset that is lost/stolen
  • To encourage to import and sell genuine mobile handsets
  • To minimize the possible grey market and encourage mobile handsets import through the Customs Office(s).

Dipak Malhotra, Chairman, Mobile Phone Importers Association, has asked the government to implement ‘white list’ in order to completely nullify the number of illegally imported mobile phones. He even claimed that the importers will be okay with the government returning the ‘return’ 40% of VAT if it will the white list is implemented.

For the registration purpose, NTA has already come up with a site where users can easily register their mobile phone’s IMEI number. The site is, however, still in a demo phase. NTA, in full coordination with the Government, Customs Office, and Nepal Telecom, has promised that IMEI registration will go online at the start of the next fiscal year.

Advantages of online IMEI registration:

  • Mobile importers can now register the numbers online whereas previously they had to burn CDs and manually submit the IMEI to NTA
  • Mobile importers will not have to go up against illegally sold mobile phones now as NTA will be keeping track of all devices
  • User can now easily register their mobile phones online by creating an account on web-based NTA application
  • If a handset of a user is stolen, it will be easy to keep track of the device via its registered IMEI
  • Nowadays, lots of people use their mobile phones for banking and financial purpose. The registered IMEI will now make the transactions more secure.

One of the most asked questions regarding IMEI registration is whether an individual can register a smartphone they were gifted from someone abroad or not. NTA has no issue whatsoever with anyone using a mobile phone purchased abroad as long as its registered.