When visiting Kos, Greece, recently, my travel partner lost their phone at the hotel. When we returned home, we contacted our mobile network provider. They have 'blacklisted' the phone.

We contacted the hotel, they said they have found the phone and will mail it back to us. I do not really want to call my mobile network provider and say I have found the phone until I have received it in person. However, will the fact that this phone is 'blacklisted' cause any issues at customs, for example? Do UK customs even do such checks? I do not want to get myself or the hotel in any trouble.

  • 7
    HMRC does not have the man power or technical capability to check if mobile phones are on some kind of blacklist.
    – Calchas
    Jun 9, 2022 at 22:11
  • So this phone is dead freight. Are you planning to manually flip this phone in and out of airplane mode as you fly? Why would it even be turned on? Jun 10, 2022 at 5:50
  • 1
    @Harper-ReinstateUkraine - They don't have the phone in their possession, it is being sent to them through the mail
    – Midavalo
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:19

2 Answers 2


Find whatever paperwork you have proving ownership -- if you have the contract with your name and the phone IMEI that's best -- and call the customs office and ask. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/customs-international-trade-and-excise-enquiries

There's nothing we can say that avoids potential legal trouble. That's for the HRMC to do.


It is highly unlikely that there will be any problems because the phone is blacklisted by your provider. What does this even mean? The phone has been made unusable on cellular networks so that you will not incur charges from a possible thief using your data, calling expensive numbers etc.

If there are customs problems at all, they will be more likely in connection to the value of the phone and duty to be paid. In either case, you can show that it was bought in the UK by a receipt or contract with the IMEI and your name, and show you brought it with you on vacation (maybe have the hotel include such facts on a cover letter).

  • 5
    Blacklisting a phone usually means that the phone itself cannot be used on a cellular network. This is done when phones are stolen, but also in other situations like lost phones, fraudulent use of phones (or phone account) etc., to make the phones less valuable.
    – Midavalo
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:18
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    I have no idea why this answer was written and even more why is it upvoted. Yes, yes this is the most likely outcome, no question about that, but how do you know? If someone does check the IMEI then you might be in trouble as a fence. This is what stopped me from writing this answer yesterday.
    – user4188
    Jun 10, 2022 at 15:37
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    What would you recommend then? The OP says "I do not really want to call my mobile network provider and say I have found the phone until I have received it in person." Would calling the provider and getting them to "un-blacklist" the phone be enough, or is the IMEI basically lost forever like a passport reported lost? What about if the owner has documentation that phone with that IMEI belongs to them? How would you be in trouble for being a fence of your own property?
    – JakeDot
    Jun 11, 2022 at 2:33
  • Fine, I wrote an answer. In my opinion, the only sensible thing is to call the HRMC.
    – user4188
    Jun 11, 2022 at 2:51
  • Thanks for your answer, amended mine with how to prove ownership.
    – JakeDot
    Jun 11, 2022 at 3:06

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