NTA makes customs duty mandatory on phones gifted from abroad

Whereas bringing in more than two phones for personal use when entering Nepal will now be met with confiscation as well

NTA charge fee imported mobile phones gift from abroad
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A few months after its soft launch, Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) is finally going full swing in Nepal from Poush 15, 2079 (December 30, 2022). And now, NTA has issued a notice stating that phones gifted from abroad will only be registered into MDMS in Nepal after declaring customs on it.

This provision isn’t applicable to a single handset brought for personal use. And you’ll only need to declare it as such at the airport’s customs office. Absolutely free of charge. On the other hand, if a person brings more than two phones from abroad, those handsets will be confiscated.

You can read our detailed report on MDMS, including its pros, cons, registration process, and more here.

NTA to charge customs duty on phones gifted from abroad

Previously, people were freely allowed to bring an extra handset with them (besides their primary phone) when entering Nepal. Whereas some bad actors exploited this system by bringing in more than two handsets as well. But since MDMS is coming into full effect from Friday at last, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has made its procedure of checking goods in hand carry or baggage more strict.

So in the case of a single phone that wasn’t previously registered into MDMS, you’ll need to declare it as a “personal usage device” at TIA’s customs office, free of charge. No customs or purchase bill required. You can then go on to register your phone into MDMS at this site by acquiring the permission slip/invoice from the customs office. Alongside other documents like passport, visa, IMEI number(s), and such.

Smartphone IMEI

But if you have an extra phone with you that you intend to gift your friends, relatives—or just use yourself—things get a little complicated. First off, you’ll need to declare the handset in customs by paying a certain fee based on the purchase bill of the device. That’s 2.5% for bar phones and 5% for smartphones, on top of the usual 13% VAT. Only then you’ll get an invoice from the customs office that’s necessary to register the phone into MDMS. And in case you have a third phone (or more), the airport will now confiscate them.

What happens if I don’t register the phone into MDMS?

After NTA soft launched MDMS on Bhadra 30, 2079 (September 15, 2022), it was announced that all phones in use (with a Nepali telco’s SIM card) before Bhadra 30 had already been recorded into the system. No matter how those devices got into Nepal (i.e. through official channels or grey markets).

NTA Customs Duty Gifted Phones - Notice

But if you have been using a phone that was gifted to you from abroad after Bhadra 30, then you must register it by following all the proper procedures mentioned above. NTA warns that starting Poush 15, it won’t register such gifted phones that haven’t been declared at customs. And such phones will be barred from using telecom services in Nepal after 15 days of use.

That means you’ll be able to enjoy WiFi, apps, and other functions on those phones just fine. But not Nepali SIM cards. So no cellular connectivity at all, including phone calls, messages, or mobile data.

How do I know if my phone is registered in MDMS?

To verify if your handset has been officially recorded in the system, visit “mdms.nta.gov.np“. There, simply type in the 15-digit IMEI number of your phone to know its status. By the way, you can know your phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06#. This information is available inside the phone’s settings as well.

What the MDMS Bylaw 2075 says

According to MDMS Bylaw 2075, individual importers will need to register the IMEI/ESN/MEID number of their handset into MDMS. However, if someone uses an unregistered device through SIM or RUIM cards of Nepali telecom operators, a denial of service notification will be sent to the handset after 15 days from its first detection on a Nepali network.

Yet, it will not be applicable for phones subscribed to non-Nepali networks. Such phones will be allowed to enjoy roaming services in Nepal without the system’s intervention. Still, if the roamer is suspected of any criminal activity, MDMS will be able to track/block those devices.

  • Watch: MDMS in Nepal, explained!