What is an IMEI Number?

What is an IMEI number? Every cell phone has one, but not all users know about them. Read on to learn what it is, what it’s used for, and how to find it.

An IMEI is an International Mobile Equipment Identity number. This is used for the identification of a device.

Similar to fingerprints, it can be used as a tool for identification, even after an incident has occurred.

What is it used for?

Users who know their phone’s IMEI number can report their phone stolen and have it be blacklisted. The major carriers share this database of blacklisted numbers. They will not allow these phones to be activated on their phone systems.

This means that if a user purchases a reported lost or stolen phone, it will make the device unusable. To avoid this when buying a used phone, always purchase certified pre-owned or refurbished devices.

If the device is from a different carrier but is not lost or stolen it still might be carrier locked. Carrier locked means that a phone can only be used on the network of a single cellular carrier. In this situation, contact the company to request an unlock to allow it to be used on another cellular network.

The IMEI is also useful when swapping the user’s old phone number to a new phone. When speaking with the customer support agent, they will ask for it during the porting process.

How is it found?

There are two main ways to find a device’s IMEI.

If the device is new, this number is often on the packaging. Users will often find the IMEI/Serial Number, Sim, and other identifying information there.

The other way to locate the IMEI, is to go into Settings on the phone, then general and the About section.

Here is an information section that show all sorts of identifying numbers, the IMEI being one of them. The actual numbers have been removed from the image below, but will all be displayed on each respective device.

For a more in depth look at IMEI numbers check out this Verizon article.

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