Last updated December 2023
What is an IMEI number?
The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number is a unique 15-digit serial number for identifying a device; every mobile phone in the world has one.
These IMEI numbers are stored in a database called the EIR (Equipment Identity Register), which contains information about all valid mobile phone equipment. This is because the EIR’s job is to check that every phone call or SMS sent is from a mobile phone authorized to use a mobile network, which it does using the IMEI number.
Therefore, if you have a working mobile phone connected to a mobile network, your phone is already registered.
The IMEI number reveals details about a phone without having to physically have it, including the brand and model, year of release, and other specifications.
For this reason, your insurance company or new phone provider may want to know your IMEI number to create an insurance policy. Your new mobile operator may need it to unlock the device from your old provider.
Why is IMEI important?
However, the primary reason IMEI numbers are important is their ability to help track down and secure lost or stolen phones.
For instance, if you were to have your phone taken but knew your IMEI number, you could report the theft to your mobile operator, give them the IMEI, and they would then block the phone. This means that the criminal would not be able to use it, even if they put in a new SIM card, as the device itself gets blacklisted. What’s more, if the thief takes the phone to a mobile recycler to exchange it for money, the company will always check the IMEI first to see if the phone has been reported as stolen.
If completely necessary, the police can also use the IMEI to locate where the phone last made a connection to the mobile phone network. However, this is normally only undertaken to find missing people and understand the calls made from their devices to track their movements.
EMEI Check: dial *#06#
How do I find the IMEI number?
The easiest way to check IMEI on a smartphone is to dial *#06#, after which the number should appear on the screen. Dual-SIM phones show two IMEI numbers — one for each SIM slot. It is a good idea to write down the mobile device’s IMEI number and keep it safe if you need to report it.
The IMEI number can also be found in several other places, including Settings and the original packaging.
Related video: How to check your IMEI
Does my IMEI contain Personal Data?
The point of the IMEI is to identify the device – not the user. The information IMEI provides is added when the phone is built, meaning it does not include any information about the name or address of the phone registered or the number on the SIM card.