IMEI (serial): *#06#

To find your GSM phone's IMEI serial number: Type *#06#.

Why?

Theft

Keep a note of your IMEI, and report it to the police, if the phone is stolen. That makes it possible for the networks to trace, or at least block, the phone.

In practice, the network operators may not bother. (Because stolen phones generate extra traffic?). We should still report the IMEIs of stolen phones, to put pressure on the operators. And in the UK, try the Mobile Equipment National Database.

Reporting the IMEI, will at least help a lost&found department in identifying found phones. But, at least in the Nokia 3410 that I tested, you need the PIN for the SIM to get the IMEI with *#06#. Which means they have to open the cover and remove the battery to find the IMEI. Creating a lot of extra work for the lost/found dept. (Have you ever tried to open the cover of an unknown phone?)

Network locks

If you bought a a phone 'cheap' on a deal that binds it to a specific operator, the phone will be locked to that operator, usually for 6 or 12 months.

But the lock is not opened automatically when that time is out. To unlock, you have to get a code from the operator, and to get that code, you need the phone's IMEI number.

I recommend that you unlock your phone at the earliest opportunity. While your operator is still in existence, and before you have an urgent need to change the SIM.

If you have to call your Scandinavian operator from Burkina Faso—roaming or from a pay phone—to unlock the phone, you should at least have the IMEI ready before you call.

IMEI Analysis

Numberingplans.com IMEI analysis.

Styrheim > Various texts > Telephony > IMEI