Currently Russian authorities consider implementing idea to register each smartphone in Russia. Is it possible to do this? Partially yes, but it would be very costly first of all for ordinary customers. Originally the idea is to register all smartphones already sold to customers.
Such registration would be free of charge. Any new smartphone is to be registered with the payment of 100 roubles registration fee and only after that a customer could use it. It would be some kind of smartphone tax applying at the purchase of device.
According to the legal proposal the registration of smartphone is to be made by the IMEI number. The smartphone is to be registered in Russia regardless of place where it was purchased. In other words if you intends to make calls in Russia you should register you phone device.
According to the declared purpose of draft law such measure would eliminate so called “gray import” for the benefits of official and approved distributors (when smart devices are imported without declaring to relevant Russian authorities) and also would help to fight with stealing of mobile phones.
According to the draft law the registration could be implemented already in July 2021. The draft law should be reconciled and approved in the administration of the Russian president and after that could be introduced to the Russian state duma for consideration. The document is discussed since January 2019.
It is supposed that the importers of smart phones would be responsible for their registration. Those smartphones purchased outside of Russia are to be registered by their owners after entrance of Russia. The registration fee is to be set up by the Russian government. The procedure and order of payment is also to be defined by the governmental decree.
Certainly there would be exceptions. The smartphones and other devices with sim-cards obtained for state or municipal purposes are excluded from registration requirement. If the person, obliged to register his or her smartphone, fails to do this, or if the importer fails to register the smartphone, the device could be blocked by the mobile operator.
Since 1st of January 2024 all unregistered devices could be blocked in Russia. For the registration purposes the Russian authorities proposed to introduce into Russian law the definition of IMEI. The so called IMEI data base would be maintained by the state institute of communications. The mobile operators have already tested the interconnection with this data base in 2019.
One of the mobile operators believes the proposed draft law would legalize the market of smart devices. Mobile operators welcome the draft law, maybe because it would generate for them additional benefits. But they are not sure about costs necessary to implement the mechanisms implied by the draft law. The tests were successful.
The manufacturers and importers commonly are welcome the initiative, but believe it would effective where the country focus enforcement against stealing of smartphones and computers. It is enforcement measure and such measure should be free of charge because it is already fully paid by the taxes, because it is enforcement measure, otherwise it should be considered as new form of tax.
The professionals believe the registration of smartphone already occurs through the sim-cards. Therefore proposed registration by the IMEI number would result in additional expenditures for ordinary customers. Some believe this measure is another step in intention to totally control the Russian citizens.
But in practice some believes that this measure would not be implemented and work properly and as a result would be another administrative opportunity to collect money from people. From the legal point of view, each mobile device with sim-card is already registered and is under certain registration regime. The authorities also want to register devices imported without payment of duties – the so called “gray import”.