An International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, is a unique 15-digit number assigned to each device on a mobile network that helps identify that specific device. At face value, it seems pretty simple but you may still be wondering what is IMEI? Read further to learn what an IMEI number is, how to use it, and how to make sure mobile devices remain secure. 

What is IMEI? 

The IMEI number is used for identifying the device and has no permanent relation to the subscriber. An IMEI is dedicated to a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) operating device. The IMEI number is used by the GSM network to identify and validate devices. Think of the IMEI number as the device’s fingerprint. The phone carrier, police, or the authorized manufacturer can use these unique 15-digit numbers to track the devices if needed, such as if the device is lost or stolen. 

Understanding the IMEI Number 

An IMEI number consists of 15 digits. The number is typically arranged in a sequence of WW-XXXXXX-YYYYYY-Z, where: 

WW: describes the reporting body identifier showing Type Allocation Code (TAC), which is managed by GSMA. 

XXXXXX: represents the actual TAC digits 

YYYYYY: acts as an identifier for the particular device 

Z: is the check digit

Is IMEI the same as SIM?

No, IMEI is not the same thing as a SIM card but it is tied to the device. Each device has a SIM and an IMEI. The SIM is associated with the network, whereas the IMEI is associated with the device. The SIM is identified by the Integrated Circuit Card Identification (ICCID) number.

Is IMEI the same as an IMSI number?

No, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) is part of the operator profile data for the SIM card. This number is used to identify the devices within the MNO. The IMSI shouldn’t be confused with an IMEI, which is linked to a particular device and not the mobile network. 

What is an IMEI number used for? 

An IMEI number is a helpful way to track if a device is lost or stolen. Additionally, the device manufacturer or connectivity provider may need the number combination in the event of a complaint or for error analysis in support inquiries. 

How do I find the IMEI?

There are various options for determining the IMEI of a device. Typically, the number is found on the packaging of the device. If the device has a removable battery, it might be under the battery cover. Manufacturers have been known to attach a sticker with the relevant IMEI information there. 

IMEI Security

In IoT deployments, managing large numbers of devices can be challenging. With ConnectivityPro™, organizations benefit from industry leading connectivity management features and functionality that allow businesses to manage and monitor their IoT network connectivity quickly and easily for advanced visibility and control. ConnectivityPro provides a simplified, streamlined, experience, enabling users to manage network connectivity from more than 24 cellular and satellite carriers via a single interface with the tools they need to provision IoT devices, prevent data overages and unnecessary costs, and diagnose connectivity issues in real time.


The International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, serves as a critical identifier for mobile devices operating within GSM networks. Its unique 15-digit composition, consisting of various components like the Type Allocation Code (TAC) and check digit, establishes it as a device’s fingerprint. This distinctive number enables GSM networks, phone carriers, law enforcement agencies, and authorized manufacturers to track and validate devices, making it an indispensable tool for locating lost or stolen devices and providing support in various scenarios.

The IMEI number’s significance lies in its role as a separate entity from the SIM card and IMSI number. While the SIM card is tied to network identification and the IMSI number serves the mobile operator’s profile data, the IMEI is specifically associated with the device itself. This distinction is pivotal in efficiently managing and troubleshooting device-related issues, streamlining error analysis, and enhancing device security.

Discovering the IMEI number is relatively straightforward, with various methods available, such as checking the packaging or looking beneath the battery cover. In the context of IoT deployments, managing large numbers of devices becomes more manageable with solutions like ConnectivityPro™. This tool offers organizations a comprehensive approach to connectivity management, ensuring IoT devices are provisioned correctly, preventing unnecessary costs, and swiftly diagnosing connectivity problems.

In essence, understanding “what is IMEI” is fundamental in comprehending the essential role this unique identifier plays in securing and managing mobile devices. Its use extends beyond mere identification, encompassing device validation, support facilitation, and enhanced security. As technology continues to evolve, the IMEI number remains a crucial element in the realm of mobile communication, ensuring devices are effectively monitored, controlled, and safeguarded.