PTA DIRBS Explained: Here’s How You Can Avoid Getting Your Phone and IMEI Blocked in Pakistan

As you might have heard, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has launched DIRBS — Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System — that will block all smuggled and unregistered smartphones as well as feature phones in the country.

Before we help you understand how DIRBS works, and how can you register your phone to avoid any blocking, here are a few terms that you need to know well.

IMEI

IMEI, or International Mobile Equipment Identity, is a unique number issued to every mobile phone in use today. It is also important to note that phones with dual SIM will have two IMEI.

This unique number (or numbers in case of dual SIM phones) is set at the time of its manufacturing. And because of its uniqueness, no two phones in the world can have similar IMEIs.

Now that you know what an IMEI is, it is time to dig in deeper and understand how DIRBS will make use of IMEI numbers to block unregistered and smuggled phones.

There will be basically three types of IMEI in DIRBS:

  • Invalid IMEI
  • Valid IMEI
  • Compliant IMEI / PTA Approved IMEI
Invalid IMEI

As mentioned above, two phones can never have similar IMEIs. The list of IMEIs that a manufacturer can use in their phones is issued by GSMA, a global authority that represents mobile operators from around the world.

In short, any phone in the world can be identified if it has valid IMEI or not by simply checking its IMEI number against GSMA’s list of approved IMEIs.

If a phone has a GSMA issued IMEI number, then it has a valid IMEI. If not, it has an invalid IMEI number.

For your information, some small, home-based Chinese manufacturers use dummy numbers as their phone IMEIs. At times they use all zeros as the IMEI or even alpha numeric numbers for their phones’ IMEIs. All of these numbers are considered as invalid IMEI. And the reason why some Chinese phone makers do this is because they want to avoid a nominal fee that’s charged by GSMA for issuance of IMEI list.

Another way that your phone can have an invalid IMEI is if you get your phone from a local market. Chances are that your IMEI number is flashed (software is re-installed) and re-coded with an invalid IMEI.

PTA Approved IMEI or Compliant IMEI

All phones that are imported through legal channels in Pakistan will have PTA approved IMEI numbers. For example, suppose Samsung is importing 10,000 phones into Pakistan per month, they will need to share the list of IMEI numbers of all the phones with PTA first.

These phones contain valid IMEIs (since they are GSMA approved). And once they are registered with PTA, the IMEI numbers of those phones will be considered as PTA approved IMEI number.

Alternatively, any IMEI number that is Valid and PTA approved is considered as Compliant IMEI. This term is used for DIRBS as well.

Valid IMEI

Third type of IMEI will be Valid; not compliant. Its those phones that come with GSMA approved IMEIs but are not registered with PTA, such as a phone that your cousin brought from Dubai may have valid IMEI but not compliant IMEI.

How to Check IMEI number of a Phone?

Now for the main thing. Checking your phone’s IMEI number is very simple. To do this:

  • Just dual *#06# from your dial pad.
  • You will get a pop-up that displays all the IMEI numbers of the phone (depending on whether you have a single SIM or dual SIM phone).

Here’s how the IMEI numbers usually look:

How to Check if an IMEI is Valid, Invalid, Compliant or Not?

You may have bought your phone from OLX, or an online store. Or maybe your cousin brought it for you from Dubai. In any case, there are a couple of reasons why you may need to check whether your phone’s IMEI(s) is Valid, PTA Approved or not.

Here’s how you can check if your phone comes with a Valid IMEI number or not. Furthermore, you can also check if it has a PTA approved (compliant) IMEI number or not.

  • Through Web:
    • Go to this website: http://dirbs.pta.gov.pk/
    • Enter your 15 Digit IMEI number
    • Press ‘Check’
    • You will be shown the status of the IMEI number on the next screen
  • Through SMS
    • Write a new SMS message
    • Type your 15 digit IMEI
    • Send it to 8484
  • Through Android application
    • Download this Android app from here
    • Install the DIRBS app on your smartphone
    • Open app and enter your 15 digit IMEI number and that’s it

Possible Outcomes of IMEI Checks

While checking the IMEI number of your phone through the above three methods, there could be three possible outcomes for your phone:

  • Valid IMEI: This means that your phone IMEI is GSMA approved but not PTA approved.
  • Invalid IMEI: Not a GSMA approved IMEI, nor PTA approved.
  • Compliant IMEI: It is both GSMA approved and PTA approved IMEI number.

Who Needs to Register their IMEI Number to Avoid Blocking

Now that we have an idea about IMEI numbers and how to check if its valid or not, or compliant or not, you need to proceed to the next step.

Depending on your scenario, here’s what you need to do to register your smartphone so that it doesn’t get blocked from normal use later on.

Invalid IMEI Numbers

Below are the possible scenarios if your IMEI number is Invalid:

  • Your phone is manufactured by a low-end Chinese company that didn’t use a GSMA approved IMEI number
  • You flashed your phone (re-installed the software) and now your new IMEI is not GSMA approved

Those with Invalid IMEI numbers, will get an SMS from the DIRBS system directing them to pair their smartphone with SIMs that they want to use on this phone. After a certain deadline (that will be mentioned in SMS from DIRBS), this phone won’t accept any new SIM.

So for example if your smartphone has an Invalid IMEI number, you must use all the SIMs that you want to use with this smartphone till the end of deadline. After the deadline, you won’t be able to use a non-paired SIM on this phone.

Using a SIM means, making at least one revenue generating activity, i.e. make a call, send an SMS or use mobile internet.

Once paired with a SIM, phones with Invalid IMEI numbers can be used with only these SIMs till the end of life of the phone.

And if you haven’t paired the phone (with Invalid IMEI) before the deadline, you won’t be able to use this phone ever again in life in Pakistan.

Valid IMEI (but Not Compliant)

There are some phones which could have a Valid IMEI but not Compliant IMEI numbers. This usually happens if:

  • You bought a phone from Dubai and took it back with you in Pakistan,
  • You ordered a phone from Ali Express that was delivered to you through a courier company,
  • You bought the phone from an online store that imported the device from abroad,
  • Your cousin brought you a new Smartphone from US,
  • You are using a test device issued by phone companies.

Phones with Valid IMEIs but not Compliant IMEIs must use the phone at once — with any SIM — before the deadline (that will be communicated to you in the SMS sent by DIRBS/PTA).

If you use this phone before the deadline, then you will never be asked to register the phone. In fact, you can use other SIMs on these phones without the need to pair them.

If these phones are used before deadline, you will be allowed to use them as normal for the remainder of their life, just like you do it now.

If a phone (with valid but not complaint IMEI) was never used even once after the deadline then you will be given around 20 days to register the IMEI numbers with PTA, i.e. by going to PTA’s website and getting an NOC from there.

This is the same NOC that is currently required if you order a phone from Ali Express or from anywhere else.

Not to mention, after the deadline, a custom fee might be required in order to get an NOC from PTA to register the IMEI number.

Also remember that all those phones with Valid (but not compliant) IMEI numbers will not be allowed to register with Pakistani mobile networks if deadline expires and if NOC is not obtained.

Compliant IMEI

Those phones with compliant IMEI — that is with Valid and PTA approved IMEIs — need to do nothing. They can continue using their smartphones as they were using before and there is not going to be any restriction on them whatsoever.

Never Forget to Check IMEI When Buying a Phone

With DIRBS in place, as you may have imagined, any phones with invalid IMEIs or non PTA approved IMEIs are going to be in trouble.

You should always make it a point to check the IMEI number of the phones while making new purchases. Whether you’re getting it from a friend or from an online store or even when you buy a phone from a shop, don’t forget to check its IMEI number.

You can check IMEI number of a phone through http://dirbs.pta.gov.pk/

Benefits of DIRBS

You must be wondering that this new system brings a lot of hassles and limitations to owning a mobile phone in Pakistan. However, if implemented correctly, DIRBS brings a host of benefits for every mobile user in Pakistan. Here are some of them:

  • Phone snatchers won’t be able to sell your phone, since you can easily get them blocked via your registered IMEI number.
  • Unscrupulous sellers who sell you a refurbished phone for the price of a new one will not be able to do so again.
  • With this system in place, you are going to get 100% legal devices, that naturally come with better quality, after sales services and warranties.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • still not understand for valid Valid IMEI (but Not Compliant). do i register with PTA or not???. the warning says “Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 29/06/18 date for auto registration”

  • good article.i think if your phone’s IMEI is valid but not compliant then you have to use this phone once before 29-06-18 (Deadline).the phones with valid IMEI will be automatically registered in PTA and you dont need to get it registered (Just insert sim and make call or sms before deadline).this is what i understand after checking my phones IMEI on DIRBS.correct me if i m wrong.

  • good article.i think if your phone’s IMEI is valid but not compliant then you have to use this phone once before 29-06-18 (Deadline).the phones with valid IMEI will be automatically registered in PTA and you dont need to get it registered (Just insert sim and make call or sms before deadline).this is what i understand after checking my phones IMEI on DIRBS.correct me if i m wrong.

  • Thanks for d great information. I checked both d imei numbers of my dual sim fon. 1st was ok 2nd was also valid but instructed to insert Sim card n use it by call/ sms etc… plz guide abt this that my fon is active n I am using both sims then how I can use 2nd imei? unable to understand dat one imei is being used n I need to use 2nd one? if so then tell me d way of how to use the un-used 2nd imei?

  • According to the DIRBS law document published in official gazette of pakistan, when PTA gives type approval to a certain phone model, it will be whitelisted and all units of the same model must be usable afterwards without any registration.

  • Question: What happens if i am living abroad and i visit Pakistan(after the deadline) and i want to use my cell here with a local sim?

    • Through DIRBS Device Registration System, you must register the device by the time you arrive Pakistan. A person is allowed to register up to 5 devices every 12 months for personal use. Usually CoC is issued within 24 hours of application.

      • and if we don’t want to use a sim there ? would we still be able to use our foreign devices. can we use local carrier as raoming?

  • “Device IMEI is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 29/06/18 date for auto registration”
    It is shows me above msg i,e Means i m clear??

    • just a warning message and your phone not block and aromatically registers by PTA after the dead line

  • Thank you for the clarification. I need to understand what mistake did the people who live in the villages made? People got phones by saving lots of money and after this system they won’t be able to use the phones with any other sims. They cannot even shuffle their phones. Huge loss I don’t see this system will be welcomed by most of the people. Let’s hope for the best.

  • Device IMEI (35274509093**10) is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 29/06/18 date for auto registration

    Device IMEI (35274509093**02) is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 29/06/18 date for auto registration

    Status is same for both IMEI althoug i am sending daily 1000’s of message and again sent message but status is same. what should i do ?

  • @Aamir 7

    “If you use this phone before the deadline, then you will never be asked to register the phone. In fact, you can use other SIMs on these phones without the need to pair them”

    Situation: I buy a. Phone valid;not compliant, use a Sim or Sims of mine for use, later sell the phone to someone.From your post snippet above, the new user can put his sim or sims, and can use it.

    If this is true, a stolen phone can be used , unless there is a way for me to report stolen.

    If my understanding is not correct, then I buy a valid/not compliant phone, and use it for myself, and then I cannot sell it.

    Please clarify

  • Apparently if you have a Valid but not Confirmed mobile phone (i.e. non duty paid phone from dubai) then all sim cards you use in those phones will have their phone numbers locked against the imei’s. After June 29th 2018 no other numbers can be used against the imei’s. ProPakistani team please confirm above.

    Phone shops have started putting in sim cards and making calls from their smuggled stock so that they can sell it after the deadline but if the above is true then this tactic will not work.

    • This can only work with stock already in the country, but would for sure discourage future smuggling. Now allowing 5 devices in 12 months is a bit too much for genuine usage and ‘importers’ would use CNIC numbers of village people to get devices registered. I think 2-3 devices would be better.

  • My Question: I am here in Dubai and using a phone purchased here in UAE and it has a valid IMEI number. I don’t have any plan to come to Pakistan before August 2018. So if I come to Pak after the PTA deadline i.e 29/06/18, will my cell phone work? And if not, what will be the procedure to make it work as right now I cant use any Pakistani sim card to make at-least a single call to sms.

  • what a palpable system that’s gonna be from PTA…. Oh wait… aren’t all the systems from PTA the same…. Who the h3ll puts “Valid but not compliant” category in a system like DIRBS? (terrible acronym I must say), matlab banda har saal bahar se device mangaye or NOC leta phire… allow FACETIME on iDevices in Pakistan that are made for pakistan phr ye ahmaqana system launch kijiye… shukria

  • Device IMEI is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 29/06/18 date for auto registration.
    M using my phone since last 2 years . Still m getting the above mentioned message.. :(
    What should i do ???

  • when i register on website, it says CNIC Already registered.
    but when i try to Logon, it says No Email Record.
    Forgot password only shows Email reset, but no CNIC reset.
    Now how can i link my CNIC to my Email for login error?

  • After the phone is auto registered how will they make sure that the person calling for blocking of the phone is the right owner? Will they automatically link the phone to SIM’s CNIC or what?

  • Instead of PTA connected with International IMEI Database system, PTA initiated their own Database, get registered with PTA to pay some amount helps to give salary to PTA Employees, as Govt can’t pay salary to poor authority used for On/Off telecom network on Muharram and Defense,Independence days :D

  • Hello,

    I got a smart device from Dubai on 13th June, 2018 and I started using it immediately by inserting my sim card slot 1..since then I have made many calls and SMS from my phone, but the DIRBS app still shows my IMEI is valid but NOT COMPLIANT.

    Can someone guide what I should do next?? Or has this happened with them?

  • Hello,

    I got a smart device from Dubai on 13th June, 2018 and I started using it immediately by inserting my sim card slot 1..since then I have made many calls and SMS from my phone, but the DIRBS app still shows my IMEI is valid but NOT COMPLIANT.

    Can someone guide what I should do next?? Or has this happened with them?

  • Buggy auto register system., bad for international roamers and tourists as well. Even system does not work, I’ve been using my SIM and PTA site still says I need to send sms or call to auto register.
    Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 20/10/2018 date for auto registration

  • Anyone, i have a valid imei phone, i have made calls and messages but still I recieve valid only messages. If anyone can guide please

  • My imei is valid but not compliant i try all things like call sms using internet but stil it say its valid how to make it compliant with pta?

  • My phone IMEI is shown valid but not complaint. They require me to make a call, send a sms or use mobile internet. I have done all that but still my status is not changing to complaint. What should i do???

  • Device IMEI (356577058539112) is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 20/10/2018 date for auto registration

  • Device IMEI (356577058539112) is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone on or before 20/10/2018 date for auto registration what shod i do?
    ab men kiy karo

  • A question popped in my head while driving to office this morning,, my existing sims which i am using right now in my cell phone will be registered the imei in the pta database, what if i sell this phone to a person and buy a new phone what will be new procedure to register my sims to the new phone ??

  • Asslam o Alikum, brother i hope all is good with,

    bhai i am live in dubai and also i purchased phone in dubai, but IMEI is valid a raha hai, ab kia kro can any one help me, call krta ho or use b kr raha ho mobile yaha per, but ager pakistan jao gha to is mai sim chaly ghi ya nahi, what is the procedure.

    Thanks
    Ali Raza

  • My imported (valid IMEI) phone’s screen is cracked and no way to do sms or call to register it automatically anytime soon before 20 October 2018. What to do now? How can i save my mobile?

  • I am using my cell .i have already inserted sim then i got msg of valid imei .i want to ask that i should use same sim or i should insert another sim?

  • Device IMEI (353308087313821) is Valid. Insert SIM and make a call/SMS to anyone for auto registration

    i had already done it i was insert a sim and make a call and sms even i used a internet data but still i get the same result as before i get

  • If I am coming to Pakistan in Jan 19, do I have to do anything to use my iphone with local sim, I had never used this phone in Pakistan before, bought it from apple store

  • What is meant by Blocking the device, only sim card not works on phone or the whole phone is useless e:g if iPhone is imported from UK have valid IMEI number but not compliant then is it useless or may use like iPod means just sim card not works but all other activities using wi-fi can be done normally.


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