Philippines: Deadline for SIM card registration preliminarily set on 28 April 2023

In brief

On 10 October 2022, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed into law Republic Act No. 11934, otherwise known as the "Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act".  The primary purpose of the Act is to mandate all public telecommunications entities (PTEs) to require the registration of SIM cards prior to their sale and activation, in an effort to promote accountability and provide law enforcement with an identification tool in resolving crimes.

Under the Act, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), in coordination with concerned agencies such as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Privacy Commission (NPC), as well as PTEs and major consumer groups, is mandated to issue the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) necessary for the implementation of the SIM Registration Act.

The NTC issued the IRR via Memorandum Circular No. 001-12-2022 on 12 December 2022. The IRR is reported to take effect on 27 December 2022, 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.


Registration, in more detail

The SIM Registration Act IRR reiterated the end-users' mandatory registration of SIMs with their respective PTEs for the activation and use thereof. Failure to register the SIM with the respective PTEs will result in the SIM not being activated for use.

PTEs and their agents, resellers, and other entities must sell SIMs in a deactivated state and activate the SIMs only after the end-users complete the registration process. Existing SIMs in use will automatically be deactivated if the existing subscribers/end-users fail to register with the PTE within the prescribed period.

The IRR details that the PTE registration process include the submission of information (e.g., name, date of birth, sex, present or official address, type of ID and ID number for individual end-users, and business name, address, and authorized signatory for juridical entity end-users), presentation of valid government-issued ID or similar form of document with photo, and input of the assigned mobile number of the SIM with its serial number.

PTEs must verify the submitted information, maintain a database with these information, and process the same only for the purposes of SIM activation/deactivation. 

Foreign SIM end-users may only use their registered SIMs for 30 days, but may avail of longer period by submitting an approved extended visa to their respective PTEs. Foreign SIM end-users may register their SIMs using their passport and/or visa.

Other notable provisions

Aside from registration, end-users are also required to immediately notify their respective PTEs of any change of information supplied, report a lost or stolen SIM, and the death of an immediate family member end-user. Selling or transferring SIMs is prohibited, without complying with registration requirements under the IRR.

PTEs are required to establish a SIM registration platform, maintain a database for these information, and deactivate SIM upon report of stolen or lost SIM and notification of death of end-user. PTEs must ensure the security and confidentiality of information gathered and comply with the Data Privacy Act and related issuances at all times.

PTEs are also protected from administrative, civil, or criminal liability arising from its disclosure of confidential information to a competent authority in relation to an investigation that a specific mobile number was being used in the commission of  a crime and that the perpetrator's identity cannot be ascertained.

Punishable acts, such as providing false or fictitious information or identities, selling of SIM without required registration, spoofing of registered SIM, carry penalties of imprisonment ranging from six months to six years and/or a fine for up to PHP 4 million pesos.

Why SIM Registration Act IRR is important

With the call of legislators and various politicians for the release of the SIM Registration Act IRR, all SIM users – individuals, companies, and foreigners alike – must be mindful that they preliminarily have until 28 April 2023 to register their SIM cards pursuant to the law and the IRR to ensure continued use of PTE services. The deadline to register the SIM may be extended for another 120 days. Businesses that rely on mobile phones and/or provide company SIMs to their employees must comply with the PTE registration for continued services to their employees. Disruption of business activities in case of other SIM end-users' failure to register may also be expected. PTEs are expected to roll out their respective registration processes for compliance with the Act and the IRR in the coming days.

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