According to the new official statistics, 12 to 15 million smartphones have been sold in Iran in the past year. Most of these smartphones are illegally imported into the country.
12 to 15 million smartphones have been sold in Iran last year. This is the very first statistic that has been released by the officials to give us more insight on the smartphone market in Iran. Around 90% to 95% of these smartphones are imported illegally into the country without paying any taxes or import tariffs. Nearly 11 years ago (2006-2007), there was only 4% import tariff for imported smartphones, however, a year later the government put 60% import tariff on smartphones which disrupted the market. This policy couldn’t hold since it increased the number of illegally imported smartphones in the country.
The government later gradually decreased the import tariff to 21% and 6% and finally to 5% last year, on imported smartphones. The 5% tariff without VAT decreased the share of illegally imported smartphones to 20% (only for two months), however, the government implemented an extra 9% VAT to these products which increased the share of smuggled smartphones to 90%-95% again.
Currently, there are various smartphone import taxes and tariffs which amount to 23% of a smartphone’s original price. Many experts have expressed their concerns about the increased volume of smuggled products into the country, if the the VAT is implemented on the end consumer’s side.
Smuggled smartphones won’t be activated by Iranian operators
With the new regulation in place which is going through its monitoring phase, all the smartphones in the country should be imported legally. Every smartphone has a unique ID named IMEI, and every SIM card has its own unique serial number. By combining these two numbers, operators can produce a unique ID which is really hard to clone. With this ID which would be calculated for each SIM card along with smartphone’s IMEI, operators can make sure that a cell phone is imported legally since they have the IMEI of every legally imported smartphone via the official channel.
This regulation will be enforced in the coming weeks in order to decrease the volume of smuggled smartphones into the country.