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File a Case

Find instructions on filing federal case records electronically and other information about CM/ECF, the application courts use to maintain electronic case files.

Need to file a case in federal court using CM/ECF? Get started. 

Want more specific court information about CM/ECF including help desk numbers and maximum pdf file size? Look up the court you wish to file in.

Review CM/ECF release notes, access to automated scripts, and other information needed to extend the functionality of CM/ECF

Is your court migrating to NextGen CM/ECF? Follow these steps to prepare in advance.

 Frequently Asked Questions

CM/ECF, which stands for Case Management/Electronic Case Files system, allows courts to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing online, making all case information immediately available.

CM/ECF allows:

  • Registered filers to file documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Attorneys, filers, and organizations to reduce their paper, photocopies, postage, and courier costs.
  • Immediate access to full case information for attorneys, parties, and general public.

A court will post a notice of routine or emergency maintenance on the court's website if CM/ECF is ever unavailable. 

Contact your local court to see what training sessions may be offered. Most courts offering CM/ECF access will provide an online tutorial, training database, FAQs, and a user manual. If a training database is provided, participants should use it to practice filing before filing a document in the live database.

Review available documentation on using CM/ECF.

For CurrentGen courts, you must register through the court, and the court must approve you as a filer. For NextGen courts, you must register through Manage My Account, and the court must approve you as a filer. You need to register for each court in which you wish to file. 

The following rules authorize individual courts by local rule to permit papers to be filed by electronic means:

  • Rule 5(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 
  • Rule 5005(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, 
  • Rule 25(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and 
  • Rule 49(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. 

The following rules authorize service of documents by electronic means if parties consent:

  • 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 25 and 26 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and 
  • Rules 7005, 9006, 9014 and 9022 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy

The amendments do not apply to service of process.

Most courts have issued an authorizing local rule; most have supplemented the local rule with a general order and/or procedures that set forth the relevant electronic filing practices in that court. Individual court rules and procedures are generally available on their websites. Use the Court CM/ECF Lookup to find individual court website links.
 

An attorney must be admitted to practice in a specific court and registered to e-file with that same court in order to file court documents electronically and to receive email notices of documents that are filed.

For district and bankruptcy courts: 

Each district/bankruptcy court has its own requirements and procedures for registering. Visit the court's website for more information.

For appellate courts:

Register to become an e-filer in appellate courts and bankruptcy appellate panels. Check the court rules to find out who is permitted. Learn more about the registration procedures.

All attorneys must register for PACER in addition to requesting e-filing privileges in order to fully use the NextGen CM/ECF system.

Find out if your court has transitioned to NextGen.