This is How a Rs. 4,000 Phone Could Cost You Rs. 50,000 in Taxes

In an earlier story, ProPakistani reported how Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have introduced an inexplicable policy where mobile phone users are charged 15 times the actual cost of the phone as customs duty.

Social media platforms are going bonkers with people posting screenshots of them being charged up to Rs 50,000 for a mobile phone that costs no more than Rs 4,000.

As absurd as it is, in reality, PTA did invoice a customer with a tax bill of Rs. 50,000 for a mobile that costs a mere Rs. 4,000. What’s worse, is that the same can happen to you as well.

Keeping reading to know why.

Imagine there’s a phone of XYZ brand that you purchased for Rs. 4,000. It turns out that this phone is not registered and you are willing to pay taxes on the phone.

To get the phone registered with PTA, you would need the IMEI number of your newly purchased phone. It could be the case that the IMEI number of this phone was changed and the current IMEI number that the phone users, was actuality tagged with Samsung Note 9.

Even if you are carrying a Rs. 4,000 phone, but the IMEI number registered on it is actually from a Samsung Note 9, PTA has the right to charge you with taxes that are applicable on Samsung Note 9.

If you are familiar, DIRBS — the system through which phones are registered with PTA — essentially works with IMEI numbers and doesn’t recognize the phone make or models.

It entirely relies on IMEI numbers and identifies the phone and make through these numbers. Therefore, regardless of the price tag of the phone if it has a modified IMEI, the DIRBS will charge you wrongly and you may end up paying higher taxes.

Here’s the lesson: Never buy an unregistered or non-compliant phone. Mainly because you simply can’t determine if the phone is smuggled, with an altered IMEI and so on.

And mind you, if the IMEI number you are carrying is of a high-end device, taxes might go into tens of thousands, actually up to Rs. 54,000.

Now you might be thinking that it is the responsibility of PTA to identify whether your phone’s IMEI is duplicated or reprogrammed. PTA explains that it has “developed and established DIRBS to curtail counterfeit mobile phone usage, discourage mobile phone theft, and protect consumer interest.”

To avoid any inconvenience of buying a phone with reprogrammed IMEI, users are advised to check the IMEI number of the phone and make sure that it actually belongs to that phone. You can do so by sending your IMEI number via SMS to 8484 or visiting this link.

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


  • The whole DIRBS system is r***rded beyond belief. No one should have to pay 55k in taxes, period.

  • Aur jo used mobile phones ko uski qeemat ka double tax kia jaye uska solution kia hoga🤔

    • If you are buying a second hand phone you can check if the IMEI is registered or not and then make a decision to buy it.

      • Yeh solution nahi hai mery bhaii…..har koi to new set nahi ly sakta na, to usky liye koi office hona chahiye jo used ko dekh ky tax ka hisaab lagaye na ky uski imei ko dekh kar pin pack price ky barabr tax lagaye, warna ap bahir sy koi bhi mobile ni mangwa sakty as a gift etc……..

        • Bhai mery mene used phone ka hi method btaya hai. App lenty wqt confrim kr skty ho ky uska IMEI registered hai ga nhi. Agr nhi hai to wo smuggled phone hoga. Aur aisy phone ko leny sy ijtnaab kro. Men bhi zyada tr used hi leta hn.

  • Voice mobiles, local warranty by United Mobile, are being blocked. What should unsuspecting users of such phones do?
    DIRBS is made by Qualcom. Pakistan was its first implementation in the world (i.e. we are a guinea pig or a lab rat yet again).
    We are one of the biggest dumping grounds for stolen phones. So DIRBS should stay in place. Just do it right please.

    • Totally agree. DIRBS should remain but GOV. and PTA should also educate people to check the phone before buying, they should instruct people to avoid non registered phone altogether

  • I had Honor 8S which was given to me for testing by Honor. I just checked taxes on it and I was surprised to know that PTA is charging 22000 tax on it. Even though the Phone was identified correctly and its retail price is 18,999. RIP DIRBS & PTA

  • Please cover a area where PTA charged more than the phone actual price.
    I bought an iphone 4s 32gb over olx few months ago, and it costs me 3200 rs.
    Few days ago, I thought to register it as i got message that it is unregistered. DIRBS correctly identifies the phone but show me duty to pay was 4922.
    How can i pay such tax amount on an old phone. They should make such mechanism that if phone is quite old then reduce the duty accordingly. Even you can search on olx and get the latest price of iphone 4s which is max 4000 rs. So instead of showing duties for new phone, they must consider phone model etc.

  • Or think of it as other way around …..

    Buy ane expensive phone and get it a Nokia 1100 IMEI lols

  • If you have a phone with fake IMEI then its not the fault of FBR to charge you extra tax. Why not buy legitimate phone and start paying taxes?

    • How do you check if it’s a fake IMEI? Does PTA have a system in place to check that? No. They have a system in place for looting people by asking for 50k duties on 4k phones but they can’t be bothered to prevent people from getting scammed.

      • Or you can simply ignore those phone that aren’t registered in the first place. They are definitely smuggled/stolen phones if they have the wrong IMEI or are unregistered.
        But that doesn’t mean System is perfect and PTA should listen to complaints and try to improve the system instead of ignoring it

      • bhai PTA ko choro pori dunya IMEI ka aik he standard use karti hye ap bhi kharedty howy check kar lo k asli hye ya nakli ..Allah nain paisy diye hn tu aqal bhi tu di hu gae na

    • Because taxes are unjust its to much every body want to pay tax but just tax not unjust

  • I have an old phone purchased in pakistan in 2013 and remained inactive since 2015…after switching on in 2019, it has been blocked after 60 days and PTA DRS system asks to pay 5000 rs for it to be unblocked.

  • sedhi se bat hye ye jo old phone jin pe xiada tax aa raha hye ye sab chori shuda phone hn ..q k agar ye legit hoty tu jb 6 maheny time tha aik call ya sms se register hu gae hoty..ap agr ap olx se kharedty hu aisa mobile tu offcourse u know k ye kia hye …hamein bus adat hye khap dalny ki


  • >