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Thursday, June 20, 2024  
13 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Govt ‘allows’ expats to use imported mobile phones for 120 days

New system also checks the abuse of Device Identification Registration and Blocking System
At present, 60 days period is available to the overseas Pakistanis to use the imported phone with one SIM. After this, the phone is not operational unless, the user pays the due amount of taxes for regularisation of the said device. Reuters/File
At present, 60 days period is available to the overseas Pakistanis to use the imported phone with one SIM. After this, the phone is not operational unless, the user pays the due amount of taxes for regularisation of the said device. Reuters/File

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have developed a new integrated system for the overseas Pakistanis, enabling them to use their imported mobile phones for 120 days.

Sources told Business Recorder that a meeting was recently held at the FBR Headquarters to finalize the new system. The meeting was also attended by the officials of the PTA and the FIA. The new system would be able to exchange data among the FIA, the FBR, and the PTA.

There would be connectivity among the FBR, the FIA, and the PTA for the exchange of data. The new system would be connected with the FIA’s record of entry and exit of passengers.

The system linkage would be available on a real-time basis with the FIA’s passengers data. The new system also checks the abuse of the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System with the help of technology integration.

The new system is an updated version or with additional features of the existing Identification Registration and Blocking System.

At present, 60 days period is available to the overseas Pakistanis to use the imported phone with one SIM.

After 60 days, the phone is not operational unless, he pays the due amount of taxes for regularisation of the said device.

Under the new system, the overseas Pakistanis would register one number of mobile phone as overseas Pakistanis.

The foreigner can register their phone through their passport numbers linked with the FIA data. Each person can register one number and his SIM would be linked with this system.

Everytime when he comes to Pakistan, he can use the same phone and reactivate the same number with the help of entry/exit data of immigration staff for period of 120 days. If a passenger comes six times, he can use the same SIM and phone through re-activation of the data with the help of immigration’s entry/exit record of the FIA.

The immigration staff would enter the data of the incoming passengers including overseas Pakistanis and foreigners and the passengers can avail the facility of registration and subsequently, using the phones for 120 days. If the overseas Pakistani come for multiple visits to Pakistan, he can use the same phone/SIM number through this new integrated system. The FIA system can easily verify/confirm that the passenger has entered into Pakistan and his phone would be activated.

However, if the overseas Pakistanis or foreigner would leave the country before 120 days, the FIA system would automatically enter the data of the outgoing passenger at the time of exit and their phone would become disabled.

If an overseas Pakistani gives his phone to any of his family members or friend for usage, but he leaves the country, the phone would be automatically blocked after entering of his data at the time of exit by the immigration staff at the airport.

The system is linked with the immigration and as soon as he leaves the country, his phone would automatically be blocked. The re-activation of phone would be linked with the flight data of immigration that he has again arrived in the country.

Any misuse of the facility would not be possible in future.

Presently, as per the FBR policy, there is no discount on device registration within 60 days.

However, an applicant who wants to register a device after 60 days of travelling into Pakistan or is a local applicant and wants to register a device with CNIC will have to pay additional tax/duty.

In a watershed development and to address the repeated concerns raised by Overseas Pakistanis (including those working abroad or Pakistani students studying overseas) and foreign nationals visiting Pakistan on short term visits regarding blocking of their mobile devices via DIRBS, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have jointly developed a new system for their temporary registration in collaboration with Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Mobile Phone Operators. This module has been introduced for those overseas Pakistanis and foreign nationals who do not intend to keep their mobile device in Pakistan and will be applicable for only one (1) mobile handset device.

To avail this facility, the applicant shall provide his/her credentials including passport No., date of arrival and intended date of departure, mobile SIM issued in his/her name, and IMEI(s) of the device. The new system shall carry out real time validation from FIA IBMS to verify the date of arrival of the applicant. On lapse of 120 days of the stay of the applicant, the IMEI(s) utilized under this facilitation shall be suspended and swill not be utilized on local network services. In case, same applicant visits Pakistan again, he/she will be required to re-apply for this temporary facilitation, by re-entering the credentials which were used for the 1st or previous registration under this scheme.

This system will not only facilitate overseas Pakistanis and foreign nationals coming to Pakistan on short term basis but will also create a positive image of the country.

Likewise, the checks introduced under this system will ensure that only the genuine overseas Pakistani/ foreign national avails the said facility.

It is pertinent to mention that FBR has already introduced a number of innovative digital interventions to ensure taxpayers facilitation and ease of doing business through technology. In the recent past, the country’s premier revenue collection organisation has collaborated with FIA and NADRA in developing an automated facility for Currency Declaration at ports to fight the menace of money laundering and thereby rule out the possible flight of foreign currency from Pakistan. Therefore, the above initiative comes as yet another wonderful step taken by FBR to maximize taxpayers facilitation, in particular, the Overseas Pakistanis and Foreign Nationals visiting Pakistan for a short period of time.

The story was originally published in Business Recorder on March 8, 2022.

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