The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identy) is a unique 15-digit decimal number required to identify mobile devices on GSM/3GPP networks. The IMEI was originally defined by the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) and remains part of the GSM and 3GPP standard today.
Operators can block device IMEIs from accessing their network if they have grounds to believe the device is stolen, counterfeit or being used for malicious purposes. Security agencies and government authorities can also use the IMEI to verify the legitimacy of handsets being imported into their country.
To ensure traceability of each item of equipment connected to the network, the IMEI must be unique and manufacturers must ensure no duplication of IMEI. The unique IMEI is derived from an 8 digit Type Allocation Code (TAC) which is assigned by the GSMA.
The structure of the IMEI is the 8 digit TAC followed by a 6 digit serial number and a check digit. These 15 digits combine to make the full 15 digit IMEI as shown below.
|TAC||Serial No||Check Digit|
How to find the IMEI
Every authentic GSM and 3GPP device entering the market since 1993 has an IMEI. It can be found by entering *#06# on the device keypad.