What is IMEI Number? How to Find Your IMEI Number?

By Haseeb Awan

Today’s guide is a comprehensive version of the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number covering everything that our audience needs to know.

This unique pair of numbers is used for what principle and what are the secondary uses of it?

Interesting, isn’t it? So without further ado, let’s get started.

What is an IMEI number?

An IMEI (as mentioned before) stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. Every mobile has a unique 15-digit number that is globally unique referred to as the device ID or IMEA ID. If the mobile device has 2 SIM slots then the device will have two IMEA ID’s.An IMEI number is hardcoded into the device making it impossible to overwrite it. The number is assigned by the manufacturer to the cellular device, just like every other piece of equipment, for instant cars.

The phone device consisting of a SIM card is recognized by a dedicated IMEI number. IMEI consists of 15-digit numbers that are guaranteed unique and accepted globally. For your information, the device with two sim card slots will have two globally unique (15-digits) IMEI numbers.  

The Division of IMEI Number

As mentioned before, the IMEI numbers consist of 15 unique numbers with an arranged sequence as WW-XXXXXX-YYYYYY-Z.

The typical IMEI arranged sequence could be explained as follow:

1. WW -sets the reporting body identifier showing the GSMA approved TAC (Typical Allocation Code)

2. XXXXXX - the actual Typical Allocation Code (TAC) numbers are represented by this sequence.

3. YYYYYY - identifies the specific cellular device

4. Z - acts as digit checker, typically it is 0 for GSM devices

How Does The Network Use The IMEI Number?

The IMEI identifies the device type and also confirms the model, release year, make, and other device specifications.

The carrier network will use the IMEI number to approve the device and connection permissions. This is how they know if your device is compatible with their network, or if its locked to a specific carrier, or if the phone has been blacklisted for some reason.

The TAC (i.e. the  Typical Allocation Code) is commonly linked with the cellular module or modem (in cellular IoT).

The allocation of a TC by a reporting body is an approved sign that the device, module, or modem has been agreed and equally passed by the relevant regulatory inspection. With this scrutiny and regulatory approval by the TAC, the network can further approve the device (and signal) connection permission.

What is IMEI Hacking?

Even though it is really hard to overwrite the IMEI number, there are some tools which claim to flash the IMEI number and change it. As these tools are illegal and expensive, they are not available for a quick and easy download and this makes it difficult to determine the truth behind IMEI hacking.

What Can A Hacker Not Do with An IMEI Number?

Hackers cannot connect to your phone or have even the slightest bit of access to it.

Hackers cannot get your calls or SMS on another device, Using IMEI.

Hackers cannot control your phone, or any apps installed.

If a Hacker got a hold of your IMEI number through voluntary physical means then the chances are you are still safe.  However, if a hacker obtained your IMEI through digital hacking then it’s possible they also have your SIMs IMSI number and that can lead to SIM swaps, location tracking, and worse.

Can you Manipulate an IMEI Number?

It is possible to bluff an IMEI number with basic programming knowledge, even when the manufacturer is not intending to do so. Thieves subterfuge this option on numerous occasions by utilizing corresponding programs available on Google and Apple app stores. They take interest in changing the IMEI of a stolen smartphone (for instance) that can no longer be identified with the manipulation. There are also a few secure phones on the market that enable changing the IMEI as a feature, but this is rare.

When Do You Need an IMEI Number?

Firstly, you should write down the device's IMEI number and store it in a safe place (ideally, write it down on a piece of paper). Not everyone can remember the 15-digit IMEI (sequence of) number. If your device is lost or stolen, in order to report it successfully to the police, you will need to share the IMEI number. The devices will be completely blocked by the carrier based on this IMEI number. This is why you should never pass the IMEI number to third parties.

What is an IMEI Number Used for?

Consider it as your device's fingerprint. The phone carrier, police, or the authorized manufacturer can use these unique 15-digit numbers to track the devices in an unfortunate case - such as lost or stolen cases. An IMEI is dedicated to a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) operating phone. It could also be used on occasions like deactivating the device or checking the status of the smartphone that you have just purchased. \

How to Find, Store, and Share IMEI Number?

How Can I Find My Phone’s IMEI Number?

The IMEI number is not only used when the device is stolen but also in the event when the error or complaint has to be analyzed by the device manufacturer or carrier provider. You can determine the IMEI number of your device either by:

1. An IMEI universally accepted code - dial the *#06# virtually on any phone. You will not be required to send or press the call button - the IMEI code(s) will appear on its own.

2. For an iPhone or cellular iPad device, you have to go to the settings app on your home screen. Go on general and tap about on the device where you will find a handful of information about your iPad or iPhone.

Similarly, scroll down to ascertain the IMEI number. Simply write it down in a safer space. If you are unable to use your iPhone or on it, you can use your sim card tray to find the IMEI number.

It is available on iPhone models starting from 6s. However, the IMEI will be available on the bottom back of the phone for iPad (consisting of the iPhone SE/older iPhone or an iPod Touch).

3. For Android you have to open settings in your app drawer. If your Android device has a battery that is removable, you can check the IMEI beneath the battery.

You will need to power off your Android device when you are removing the battery. You can also look for your Sim Tray that will have the 15-digit IMEI number imprinted on it.

You can also check via your Android About section in your settings option and see the 15-digit IMEI within it. Make sure you have your digit written somewhere for future use.

4. As a fourth resort, you can also locate your original phone packaging. Once located, you have to look for the barcode label on your box. You may be able to clearly label the barcode and the serial number next to the IMEI.

Do You Need to Store The IMEI Number of Your Mobile Device?

The answer is yes, you want to store the IMEA number in a safe place that is secure.

If the device is stolen or is lost and you never expect to get the device back, then you will want the IMEA number to report to police. The police report is used for insurance purposes if you have insurance that covers the loss.  If you’re lucky enough to get cooperative police, the police can request the carrier to track the device via a warrant or judicial requirement

You can also report your device as stolen to your carrier and request them to report it as stolen.  They will add the IMEI ID to a global database so the carriers will no longer accept this IMEI ID to connect to their network.  This means you will never be able to track your device and just have to accept that it’s gone.

Some Professionals & cybersecurity experts use IMEI Hack software or IMEI Mobile Phone Tracker Tools to find the real-time location of suspicious, missing, or stolen devices.  This also means there are nefarious experts who are willing to accept money to do the same.

Is It OK to Share My IMEI Number?

The IMEI number should not be shared publicly because this is deemed as private information.  You never want to share your device IMEI number unless you absolutely have to because someone could decide to harass you by reporting your device as stolen, forcing you to deal with getting it unlocked.

IMEI number tracking is done very often by hackers. Yes, it is possible for hackers to track you with your device IMEI number. If it can be done in ethical ways where law enforcement agencies track people using their IMEI number with the help of telecom operators then there are hackers willing to do the same for money.

The IMEI also identifies the phone brand, model and specifications.  Hackers could use this information to impersonate you with the Carrier to execute a SIM swap, or try and get a new phone on your mobile plan.  The typical call center employee is going to verify the hacker if they are quoting the exact model of your device and have done their homework on your personal information.

The rationale behind this is that sharing the IMEI number freely could result as a great risk. You can lose it to a potential hacker who is masquerading as a bidder. Many buyers will show hesitation towards this policy but a user-to-user market like Swappa (and many others) has a smooth policy to secure the interest of buyers as well. Again - own your privacy - never compromise on it!

Also, Read The Difference Between IMEI, IMSI, ICCID, and MSISDN

Is My IMEI Number Linked to SIM or Phone?

Ideally, from this point, you can easily tell that IMEI is not related to a sim card but is tied to the device (as its identifier). This should not be mixed with the UICC (universal integrated circuit card) number or the sim card. The IMEI is used by authoritative parties, such as the device manufacturer, phone carrier, or police to track or locate a specific smartphone regardless of its card.

Buying A Refurbished Phone - What to Do?

Buy it from a reputable vendor.  Make sure the vendor has good reviews, or that they are an established business.   If someone is selling you an iphone out of their trunk for a great price then it’s possible the phone is stolen and blacklisted already.  As soon as you get the IMEI ID, run it through a phone check service such as MobiCHECK to find the history of the phone, including if it’s been reported as lost or stolen, and if it’s been blacklisted or blocked.   If you do have a blacklisted phone and you’re not the original owner that the carrier can verify, then you can check with a 3rd party provider to see if they can unlock it for a fee, but they will want to verify some information on the history of the device as well.

IMEI Number Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

What are the alternative terms of IMEI?

IMEI is also known as ESN (Electronic Serial Number) or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier). These are uniquely generated numbers tied to our smartphones. It is impossible that two devices may have the same IMEIs. ESN can be provided in different formats - it could be a 14-digit MEID for older devices or a 15-digit IMEI.

How does an IMEI number enable police to find the culprit who stole the device?

IMEI allows device tracking. This tracking letter is shared with the network provider. The handset will be blocked and the device will be useless (even if SIM has been changed) unless it is unlocked.

How can I locate my IMEI number if my phone is lost?

You can get the MEID/IMEI number by logging into your provider's online account. You can also look for the box (if it is around). The IMEI will be placed on the box back.

Finding IMEI on iPhone

If you are running on the current iOS version, you have to tap on settings.

1. Select General.

2. Opt for the About section available at the top of the expanded menu

3. Scroll down or select the Primary Settings to see your IMEI 15-digit number

Finding IMEI on Android

You can dial *#06# to find IMEI OR perform the next steps regardless of your device

1. You can go to settings and tap general

2. Tap About device/phone

3. Select Status to look for your IMEI number that is mentioned with your mobile number

For an older iOS or Android, you can locate it under the battery (on the back of your device) or inside the SIM tray.

What is an IMEISV number?

It is the International Mobile Equipment Identity - Software Version. It is a 16-digit long code and differs from the IMEI. The last two numbers are the SV or firmware/software version identifier. It is used to send the previous version of software to the device from the manufacturer as soon as the new software rolls out.

The 16-digit is divided into the following sections:

1. Six-digit TAC Code

2. The FAC (Final Assembly Code) as the name suggests will identify the last production stage location comprising of 2 digits

3. SNR or the Sequence Number is an individual SNR that is used to uniquely identify devices, incorporating the same FAC and TAC. It includes 6 digits

4. SVN is a software version number identifying the software version number consisting of two digits

IMEISV consists of decimal numbers only. It could be written as the following equation:

TAC (6-digits) + FAC (2-digits) + SNR (6-digits) + SVN (2-digits) = 16-digits IMEISV.

The manufacturer marks the device(s) by protecting the FAC, SNR, and TAC from compromised or unauthorized changes. The TAC is by the GSMA and the manufacturer shares the FAC device's final location. You can find IMEISV on the cellular device menu, model, module, or on the original packaging.


These digits, particularly with regard to security, are an essential part of any cell phone. These unique numbers are required for complaint purposes and not just for theft and tracking. It is highly advised not to share your IMEI number publicly or randomly.

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