ECF Frequently Asked Questions:
Filing a document into ECF requires a PACER login and password. Each court determines for itself to whom it will issue filing privileges. At the present time, we offer electronic filing access principally to attorneys, bankruptcy case trustees and limited access to bankruptcy creditors and financial management course providers.
Subject to court orders in individual cases, policy, or other individual court limitations, the public may view dockets and documents in ECF systems through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. PACER logins are available to the public at the PACER site. Directed by Congress to fund electronic access through user fees, the federal judiciary has set the fee at the lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.
ECF systems are designed to accept only documents in PDF format. This format was chosen because it allows a document to retain its pagination, formatting and fonts no matter what type of computer is used to view or print the document. It is also an open standard format. Adobe developed the format, and offers software that also converts documents created in most word processing systems into PDF. This software is recommended. Several word processing and other programs contain features that convert documents created in those programs into PDF.
There are no added fees for filing documents over the Internet using ECF, although existing court document filing fees do apply. Electronic access to individual case docket sheets and filed documents is available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Litigants receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their cases; additional copies are available to attorneys and to the general public for viewing or downloading at the current PACER fees. Directed by Congress to fund electronic access through user fees, the federal judiciary has set the fee at the lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.
Rule 5(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 49(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 5005(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Rule 25(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure authorize individual courts by local rule to permit papers to be filed by electronic means. New amendments to Rules 5(b), 6(e) and 77 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 45 and 49 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules 7005, 9006, 9014 and 9022 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Rules 25 and 26 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, authorize service of documents by electronic means if parties consent. The amendments do not apply to service of process.
Most courts that offer electronic filing have issued an authorizing local rule; most have supplemented the local rule with a general order and/or procedures that set forth the relevant procedures governing electronic filing in that court. View the Court's ECF Procedures Guide.
ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by the National Security Agency. Access to the system is through the PACER Service Center login and password.