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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Customs Administration has launched a website and SMS service that enable cellphone buyers to identify contraband phones.

A vast majority of mobile phones used in Iran are currently smuggled into the country either by importers posing as holiday travelers or through the country’s porous land and sea borders.

The new system will enable users to check whether a mobile phone has entered the country legally or not, reported ICTNA on Sept. 12.

According to the agency, the website will provide services based on a phone’s IMEI number—the International Mobile Equipment Identity, or a number that helps identify the serial number of the mobile phones.

 How to Do It

The code is usually printed inside the battery compartment of the phone, but can also be displayed on screen on most phones by entering *#06# on the dial pad, or alongside other system information in the settings menu on the operating systems of smartphones.

The IMEI number is used by the administration to identify valid devices and, therefore, can be used for stopping a stolen or illegally imported phone from accessing Iran’s communications network. Therefore, only smartphones and gadgets, which have entered the country through the official customs channel, can be used.

The agency also assured users that IMEI is only used for identifying the device and has nothing to do with the subscriber’s identity. The subscriber is identified by a number stored on a SIM card.

In addition to the website, the agency has developed an SMS system wherein customers can text the serial number to 30008887 and instantly receive a confirmation about whether the phone is contraband or not.

According to a mandate issued recently, all commercial importers of mobile phones are obliged to register the IMEI of their imported goods.

The organizers of the new scheme also did not announce whether they intend to store the numbers entered in the system.

Financial Tribune checked cellphones from different brands such as Sony, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung purchased through official dealers using the SMS method.

None of the IMEIs were registered in the system and the phones were working without a hitch.

The organizers also did not say whether users themselves could register their phones on the system to act as a deterrence to thefts.

In order to try to curb the huge market of smuggled smartphones, the Iranian government has kicked off the new mobile registration plan to prevent their entry and levy taxes, reports Financial Tribune.

The plan requires all mobile phones to be registered with the country’s telecommunications user database, warning those who fail to register that such phones will become unusable in the country.

However, the mobile registration plan, which went into effect on July 22, is not retrospective, according to previous announcements.

Reza Dehqani, the head of Telecommunications Department of Iran’s Customs Administration, on Sept. 12 said, “The pilot phase of the plan has been successful and by Sept. 21, the department will issue a comprehensive report about its procedure.”

Iran’s Customs Contraband Mobiles Iran's cellphone market