Is your IMEI blocked?
Or are you just wondering why your device has it in the first place?
Either way, I have answers to anything you might want to know about IMEI.
From explaining what it is to describing how it works…
I got you. So…
Continue reading to find out:
- 3 easy ways to unblock the IMEI of your device.
- The reasons why the IMEI is important to your phone.
- How you can quickly check your phone’s IMEI number.
- And much, much more…
What is IMEI?
It stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). And it’s a unique number that identifies your phone’s network.
If you’re from the United States, you can compare it to your Social Security Number (SSN).
Just like every person gets a unique SSN…
Every device gets an unrepeated IMEI too.
With 15 digits composing this number, no 2 IMEIs are ever alike.
Which makes it a reliable way to distinguish devices from 1 another.
“Do all phones have an IMEI?”
No. Only GSM devices have an IMEI in their system.
“What are those?”
So if your phone has a SIM card slot, you have a GSM device.
And naturally, it’ll also have an IMEI number.
“How do I find my device’s IMEI?”
There are 2 ways you can easily do this, and they’re by:
- Dialing a code.
- Checking your settings.
To check your IMEI by dialing:
- Turn ON your device.
- Go to your Phone application.
- Head to the keypad section.
- Type and dial *#06#.
- Your device’s info will show up.
Alternatively, you can also…
Check your IMEI through your Settings
For Android devices:
- Turn your phone ON.
- Go to Settings.
- Click About phone or About.
- Find where it states “IMEI.”
Note: The exact steps may vary depending on the Android phone that you have.
So if you want a visual guide to finding the IMEI number in your settings, watch this video:
For iOS devices:
- Turn your Apple device ON.
- Head to Settings.
- Go to General > About.
- Scroll down, and you’ll find IMEI.
Pro tip: I highly recommend keeping a record of your phone’s IMEI number. It’ll be helpful if you need to cut off your device’s network if you ever lose it or it gets stolen.
Fun fact: Dual SIM phones have 2 IMEI.
Why is my IMEI number blocked?
Your IMEI is blocked because your device has been reported lost or stolen.
Very rarely will it be mistakenly blocked off…
So it’s important to talk with your service provider to know exactly why this happened.
You see, most cellular providers in the US share the same blocklist database.
Which means that if your IMEI is blocked by 1 company…
You’ll also be blocked by all the other cellular institutions.
When that happens, you won’t be able to use any service providers in the whole country.
Now, if you’re not sure why your IMEI is blocked…
I recommend asking your cellular provider as they’ll be able to find out the exact reason for this.
What happens if the IMEI is blocked?
If the IMEI is blocked, you won’t be able to use the cellular service of your device.
This means that you’ll lose the ability to:
- Make phone calls.
- Use your cellular data.
- Send or receive text messages.
However, apart from these, you can still use all the other features of your phone.
This means that you can still:
- Connect to the Wifi.
- Turn ON your device.
- Send calls and chats online.
Editor’s pick: What Is the Difference Between a Smartphone and an Android?
Can a blocked IMEI be unblocked?
You can still unblock a blocked IMEI.
And you can do this by:
- Asking your service provider.
- Paying for an IMEI unblocking service.
- Shipping your phone out to another country.
The 1st option is the most recommended way of unblocking your IMEI.
So let’s start with how you can unblock your phone by…
Asking your service provider
If you’re the 1st owner of the device, your cellular provider will be able to resolve this issue…
As long as you can provide them enough proof that the phone has been yours from the start.
However, in cases where you’ve bought a used phone from someone else…
This process becomes much more complicated.
Because in these instances, the cellular company 1st needs to ensure that…
The device wasn’t illegally obtained from its rightful owner.
Or in other words…
They need to ensure that it wasn’t stolen from or lost by the person who first bought it.
As a result, this makes the whole process longer and harder…
Which sometimes makes it more sensible to just…
Pay for an IMEI unblocking service
Many institutions claim that they can unblock phones with a blocklisted IMEI.
So, you can find some of these unblocking services near you…
And ask them to unblock your phone.
But bear in mind that this is a riskier choice than asking your service provider.
Because most of the time, these services are part of the Black Market.
Or, to be precise, they’re businesses that operate without the government’s permission.
And this means that there’s no guarantee that they’ll successfully unblock your IMEI…
Even if you’ve already paid them.
Important reminder: Always do your own research. And be aware of the risks in using these unblocking services. Ensure that a company is reliable before paying them for their service.
Ship your phone to another country
Blocked IMEI numbers are usually only blocklisted within 1 country.
Of course, there are rare exceptions to this rule.
Some developed countries, like USA and France, share the same IMEI blocklist databases.
Which means IMEIs that are blocked in the US are also blocked in France…
And vice versa.
But for 3rd world countries, this is rarely the case.
So, if you want to easily unblock your phone’s IMEI…
You can sell or ship it off to countries outside North America.
And as long as the device is factory unlocked…
It’ll be able to use the cellular services in the nation you ship it to.
Can a phone be blocked using IMEI?
A phone can be blocked using IMEI.
But it won’t mean that the phone will be completely unusable if it is.
See, devices with blocked IMEIs are only restricted from using their cellular services.
To be precise, they won’t be able to:
- Use their cellular data.
- Exchange text messages and calls.
So although the phone is blocked…
You can still use it to connect to Wifi or stream online, and it’ll stay functional that way.
How do I know if my IMEI is blocked?
You can find out whether or not your IMEI is blocked by checking if you can use any cellular services.
If you can:
- Make calls.
- Use your data.
- Receive messages.
Then your IMEI is working.
But of course, you’ll only know this if you’re already the owner of your device.
Now, you might be wondering…
“How can I check the IMEI of the phone I’m about to buy?”
Don’t worry. I’ll teach you the 2 different ways to do it.
- Testing your phone.
- Contacting its service provider.
The 1st option is the easiest to do, so let’s start with that 1.
Here’s how you can…
Test your phone to see if your IMEI is blocked
For this test, here are the things you need:
- An extra, working SIM card.
- A phone with a working cellular service (Device 2)
- The device you want to check the IMEI of (Device 1)
Now, once you have all of these, follow these steps:
Step 1: Insert the SIM card into Device 1
If you’re buying a used phone from someone…
It’s safe to assume that it doesn’t already have a SIM card.
So you need to bring 1 yourself.
Or, if the seller permits, you can also borrow their SIM.
Once you have the SIM ready…
Insert it into the device you want to check the IMEI of.
Step 2: Turn ON both devices
Ensure that both devices have at least 50% of battery.
Step 3: Save the number of Device 1 on Device 2
Device 1 is the phone you just inserted the SIM card on.
As you need to call it later, you need to save its number to Device 2.
You can skip this step if you wish to.
But this will make it easier to make multiple calls later…
So I strongly recommend that you do this.
Once you have the phone number saved or typed out on your Phone app.
Step 4: Dial the number
Since the phone you’re using to make this call has a guaranteed working service…
The call should go through if Device 1 has a working IMEI.
Once you ring the number…
Step 5: Observe if the call is received by Device 1
If nothing’s wrong with the IMEI of the device you want to buy…
It should be able to receive the call.
Dial the number at least 3 times.
If the call goes through at least once…
That means the phone’s IMEI is alright.
But if it doesn’t ring, that means the IMEI is blocked, and you shouldn’t buy the phone.
However, it’s worth noting that this test isn’t foolproof.
For example, the call might not go through because of a weak signal…
And not because of a blocked IMEI.
So if you want to go with the most certain way of checking the IMEI status of your device…
Contact your service provider
Go to your cellular service company and give them the IMEI number of your phone.
Provide the documents or proof of ownership that may be asked of you.
And wait for the results as they search it up on their system.
Is IMEI blocked worldwide?
IMEI isn’t blocked worldwide.
Cellular carriers don’t share the same database across the globe.
So a company won’t know if a phone has been blocked in other countries.
And will only block the IMEI numbers on their nationwide blocklist.
As a result, phones with blocked IMEIs are often sold to other countries.
Because they won’t have trouble connecting to cellular providers in another nation…
Even if they’re blocked by the country they were shipped from.
But bear in mind that some developed countries share their IMEI databases.
As I’ve mentioned before, as an example, a phone blocked in the United States…
Will also be blocked in France.
Moreover, GSMA, or the association for GSM networks…
Is already working on trying to create a global blocklist in the future.
Where most, if not all, GSM service providers in the world can share information…
About which numbers need to be blocked, regardless of which country they’re in.