In a major policy shift, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar has announced that those travelling to Pakistan will be allowed to bring in only one cellphone per year free of customs duty as per the personal baggage rules.
While a maximum of five smart phones can be brought under the new regulations in a year. However, customs duty will have to be paid on the extra four handsets to require service in Pakistan beyond 30 days.
On Saturday, the federal minister had written on the microblogging website, Twitter, saying: “The cabinet has decided that mobile phones sold after 1st December 2018 that are not custom duty paid (i.e. smuggled) will be deactivated by PTA after a lapse of 30 days.”
However, phones currently in use or activated before December 1 will not be effected or require any registration, he added.
In addition to this the the state minister further said, “The cabinet has also approved the relaxation in policies regarding commercial import of new and used mobile phones,” adding that the ban on commercial import of used phones has also been lifted if the phone models conform to PTA regulations and duties and taxes have been paid on them.
While guiding phone users to avoid any hassle, Azhar said in an other tweet, “If you are purchasing a new phone or carry any phone that you wish to install a SIM in and activate after 1st December 2018, make sure to send its IMEI number to 8484 to know about its legal status. The IMEI number can be found the mobile phone’s box or by dialing *#06# on its screen.”
On Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced that the cabinet had decided to install a new Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) to block the smuggled phones after December 31. “The restriction will not be imposed on the phones already in use,” he added.
He said mobile phones worth Rs82 million come through formal channels and taxes were paid but phones worth Rs2.5 billion come through informal channels every year.
The information minister said that the sale of second-hand phones is banned but these phones are still available in markets.