IMEI registration going online in Nepal


The sale of smartphones through the grey market has been major a problem in Nepal for a long time. To nullify this problem, Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) made IMEI registration mandatory. And now for the same purpose, Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) is about to be implemented in Nepal. Speaking at an event held for the 23rd anniversary of NTA, Mr. Purushottam Khanal (Chairman, NTA) informed that MDMS will be implemented from Jestha 2078 B.S. With this, IMEI registration will also go online in Nepal.

Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) in Nepal

To facilitate this process, NO had started online IMEI registration to make things easier for the users. NTA had made IMEI registration compulsory in April 2016. It had even said that the phones with unregistered IMEI numbers would become dysfunctional from April 1, 2017. However, citing various reasons, the organization chose not to take the action.

Yet, the online IMEI registration system has not completely nullified the problem. Thus, to do so, NTA had been planning on implementing Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) for quite some time now. We’ve been hearing about its progress in crumbs every now and then with vague info regarding its inevitable availability. But this is the first time NTA has come forward with an actual launch date.

NTA 23rd anniversaryImage credit: Technology Khabar

According to Mr. Khanal, the system is in its final stages of implementation and will be available as soon as Jestha 2078 B.S. (May 2021). Even though it’s a concrete bit of info, we can’t help but be a little skeptical whether the system will actually go live on the said date. Anyway, after the implementation of MDMS, illegally bought mobile phones will no longer be operable. Therefore, it will effectively put an end to the sale of smartphones from illegal channels.

So if you’re planning on buying a phone through unofficial means in Nepal, rethink your move.

So, what is MDMS?

Here, MDMS is a centralized government-owned system to keep a record of any and all phones and similar electronic accessories that enter the country—via their unique IMEI number(s). This includes smartphones, feature phones, bar phones, tablets, etc.

This project was initiated back in 2018 and tendered to OSI Consultancy (India), Numera SDN BHD (Malaysia), and Namaste Global Communications (Singapore). The cost of building this system is estimated at a little over 7 million USD.

As you’d expect, this system will only recognize those imports that have followed the due diligence and allow their operation. All the official smartphone distributors/importers will register their devices in MDMS.

But, illegally imported devices will be effectively blocked from any national telecom operator’s network. On top of this, the parties involved in such activities will also be subject to legal action as defined by the existing regulation. In the case of smartphones gifted from abroad, you will have to pay a nominal fee to register them into the system.

mobile device management system nepal meeting

However, the exact policy regarding this is still in the works. Furthermore, the Mobile Device Management System will also let you track your device in case of loss/theft. All in all, the introduction of MDMS is exciting news for the Nepalese smartphone market. Not just the distributors, it will also be fruitful to the end customers.

Why IMEI Registration in Nepal?

Currently, mobile importers have to pay 13% VAT and 2.5% excise duty on mobile imports. Furthermore, the government has reduced the percentage of VAT return to 0% this year. Thus, it is not surprising that the smartphones bought from the grey market come at a cheap price since they effectively skip paying both fees.

According to Nepal Mobile Distributors Association (NMDA), the grey market covers around 25% of the overall smartphone market in Nepal. Right now, there is an increase in the demand for mobile phones. That’s because most of the students are attending online classes. And monetary transactions via smartphones have increased too. Because of this, leaving the smartphone grey market unchecked will only result in its growth due to high demand. And this is a serious concern for the official distributors. Therefore, NMDA is desperate for the implementation of the MDMS.

Not only that, Mobile Importers Association and Distributors Association have planned on the use of holograms while selling mobile phones. Moreover, policies for the implementation of MDMS within 3 months have already been prepared. So hopefully, the problem of mobile sales through the grey market will go away soon. However, it all depends upon the level of implementation from NTA.

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Rabins Sharma Lamichhane

Rabins Sharma Lamichhane is the owner of RabinsXP who is constantly working for increasing the Internet of Things (IoT) in Nepal. He also builds android apps and crafts beautiful websites. He is also working with various social services. The main aim of Lamichhane is to digitally empower the citizens of Nepal and make the world spiritually sound better both in terms of technology and personal development. Rabins is also the first initiator of Digital Nepal.

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