What is an IMEI?
An IMEI is an abbreviation for “International Mobile Equipment Identity” number. Every mobile phone has an IMEI number unique to it, which can be used to identify, locate and track the device if it’s lost or stolen. You will also need your IMEI number to check if your phone is unlocked.
The IMEI number will be 15 digits long.
How to find my IMEI number with your phone
There are a few different ways you can find your IMEI number, depending on the model of your phone or tablet, and what you have access to.
- Dial the IMEI code - you can find out your IMEI number on nearly every brand of smartphone by dialling the universal code: *#06# . Usually, the IMEI number will appear on your screen as you’ve typed in this code, so there is no need to press call
- Write it down - your IMEI number should appear on your screen after entering the code. Either write the number down or copy the text into the notes on your phone
- Finished - you now have the IMEI number for your phone
- Open Settings - Settings > General > About > IMEI
- Finished - in the list in the “About” section, you should be able to scroll down and see your IMEI code. Either write this down or copy it over so you can see it whenever you need
If you can’t turn on your iPhone or iPad to complete these steps, you can also find your IMEI code on the SIM card tray or at the back of the phone near the bottom.
- Open Settings - Settings > About > IMEI
- Finished - you should be able to scroll down and see your IMEI code. Either write this down or copy it over
If you can’t turn on your Android device, you may be able to find your IMEI code underneath the battery (if it’s removable) or on the SIM card tray. If your battery is removable and you’re planning to take it, make sure your phone is switched off first.
How to find your IMEI number without your phone
If you’ve lost your phone, you could still find your IMEI number using one of the following methods:
- Check the packaging
- Speak to your network provider
- Check your Apple ID account (iPhone only)
- Use Find My Device (Android only)
If you kept your original packaging, you could still find your IMEI number.
- Find the box
- Locate the barcode - this could’ve been used to seal the box closed
- Look for the IMEI number - the IMEI number is on the barcode sticker next to the serial number.
If you brought your phone directly from a network, they should have your IMEI number on file. This information might be available on your online account, if not, speak to them directly.
If you’ve signed up with an Apple ID account, you can check your IMEI number online.
- Go to appleid.apple.com/uk
- Sign in with your Apple ID that you use on your iPhone
- Go down to ‘Devices’, and select your phone. This will display your IMEI number
If you’re an Android user, and have already set up Find My Device before losing your phone, you can do the following:
- Login to your Google Account that you use on your Android device
- Go to Find My Device
- Locate your device from the list, and click the ‘i’ symbol next to it. This will display your IMEI number
How can my device be tracked using my IMEI number?
If you have lost your device, or it has been stolen, knowing the IMEI number can be useful in helping police track it down.
Once the theft is reported, your network provider can block the device so that it cannot be unlocked or used - and it knows exactly which one to block because each IMEI number is individual.
This also means that a thief can’t use your handset on a new network, as the IMEI number will be reported and blacklisted until you get your device back.
My phone is only displaying a MEID number
A MEID number and an IMEI are one and the same, essentially. Some devices and networks use MEID numbers instead, which are 14 digits rather than 15 digits long.
MEID stands for “Mobile Equipment Identifier”. MEID numbers are often used on CDMA “Code Division Multiple Access” radio networks, such as Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular.
Why do I have two IMEI numbers?
If you own a dual SIM phone, you’ll find that you have two different IMEI numbers. This is so you can connect to two different networks on the same device.
You should now have your IMEI or MEID number for your iOS or Android device. Keep this safe - you never know when you might need it.