You may be aware that a “TAC letter” and a list of “IMEI numbers” are required to complete the certification or registration of cellular products in such Latin American countries as Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.
To better understand what this means, it helps to know a bit more how these crucial codes called TAC and IMEI keep billions of cellular devices functioning properly on networks worldwide.
Manufacturers use an assigned 8-digit number called the Type Allocation Code (TAC) to create a unique identifier for their mobile devices, known as the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The IMEI is a unique 15-digit number that ensures proper device operation on the network, and is embedded in the device at the time of manufacture in a way that can’t be modified later.
A group called the GSMA, representing global mobile manufacturers, has the exclusive right to issue TACs. The same TAC cannot be used for different device models.
Any device containing GSM cellular access functionality — phones, smart phones, modems, tablets, PCs, etc. — must include an IMEI number generated from a GSMA-issued TAC code.
To obtain a TAC, a manufacturer or brand owner first registers their brand on the GSMA website. Login credentials are then sent to the manufacturer to enable online application for TAC. Online TAC applications are usually issued within 48 hours, after which the applicant will receive an official grant letter from the GSMA, listing the assigned TAC.
Once an applicant has been provided a TAC for a specific device model, the manufacturer may generate up to a million IMEI numbers from that TAC and incorporate them into the devices of that model. (A false IMEI can make devices inoperable and lead to confiscation or legal action.)
The network operator needs the IMEI to identify the device and allow it access to the network. The network operator must know the device model and its capabilities so it can interact properly with the network. The device make and model are identified from the TAC component of the IMEI.
The TAC, IMEI and corresponding device details are recorded in the global IMEI database. The recorded TAC details are made available to network operators worldwide, various law enforcement agencies including customs, and select industry participants.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch. We’re here to help you gain approval to import and commercialize your electronic equipment in Latin America.