[Update] The article has been updated to add the effectivity date of govt’s decision.
As we previously reported that the government has allowed international travelers to bring one phone registered with the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) without paying any taxes to Pakistan. That rule has changed now, as the PTI govt has imposed tax on international travelers even if they bring one smartphone to Pakistan, according to local media reports.
From July 1, 2019, all incoming international travelers will have to pay duty on every unregistered phone they bring to Pakistan, according to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
It is important to note here that government has decided to withdraw baggage rule exemption due to the recent course of events where PTA confessed that leaked passengers’ data, such as Passport details were used for illegal registration of thousands of mobile devices.
Hence, once the government will officially issue the notification all the international travelers coming to Pakistan will have to pay up even for their very first phone registration and no duty-free phone will be allowed. Member Inland Revenue and Policy Dr. Hamid Ateeq while speaking to media about the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on budget 2019-20, explained that the baggage facility is being misused by public and smuggled/blocked phones are being registered in the black market for as low as Rs. 1000, therefore, suspending the rule would be the right decision to make.
PTA had previously revamped approval standards for mobile phone types. According to these amendments, an individual can only import 5 mobile phones in a calendar year for personal use and only the first phone you bring home could be registered with PTA’s DIRBS without paying any taxes. However, it is preeminent to note here that no registration is required if the duty-free phone is to be used in Pakistan for less than 30 days.
The issues regarding mobile phone registration in Pakistan need to be resolved on priority bases and the govt, as well as regulators, should work together to give international travelers their legal right to bring a duty-free phone in Pakistan.