CM/ECF FAQ

Go to: Getting Started | Accessing the System | PDFRules and Procedures | Technical Issues

Getting Started

Q: What is CM/ECF?

CM/ECF stands for Case Management/Electronic Case Files. This system allows users to access and file court documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

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Q: What are electronic (ECF) cases?

Electronic (or ECF) cases are those cases in which the court requires all filings to be made electronically over the Internet. No paper filings are allowed in ECF cases.  

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Q: Are there any fees to use CM/ECF system?

There is no fee to file documents using the CM/ECF system. Access to view documents is available through PACER and the current fees for PACER usage will apply to documents and reports viewed through CM/ECF. For the latest PACER fee schedule, please click here. The court also has a public terminal in the Clerk's Office that is available for use free of charge. Attorneys are given one free look at documents filed electronically in their cases by viewing the document within 15 days of the file date through the Notice of Electronic Filing delivered to the e-mail address(es) listed in the attorney's e-filing account information.

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Q: How do I register for e-filing in the United States Court of Federal Claims? (See our CM/ECF Resources page for more information.)

Only attorneys who are members of the United States Court of Federal Claims Bar may obtain e-filing privileges in the United States Court of Federal Claims. If you are a member of the court’s bar, you may register for e-filing through PACER. If you are not a member of the court’s bar, you must first apply for admission to the court’s bar through PACER.

To get a PACER account, apply for admission to the court’s bar, and register for e-filing, visit PACER at www.pacer.gov.

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Q: How long does it take to get an e-filing account?

If you are an attorney who is a member of the United States Court of Federal Claims Bar, once you submit your e-filing registration, you will be notified of your e-filing status by e-mail within one business day. If you need your account right away to file a document, please call us at 866-784-6273 (toll free) or 202-357-6402 (local) (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time) and we will try to expedite the process.  

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Q: What computer software is required to access CM/ECF?

The following software is required:

  • a word processing program;
  • PDF software; and
  • a web browser (Mozilla Firefox is the preferred browser).

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Accessing the System

 


Q: I have an e-filing account but I forgot my password. What do I do?

E-mail us at CFC_CMECFHelpDesk@cfc.uscourts.gov or call us at 866-784-6273 (toll free) or 202-357-6402 (local) (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time) and we will e-mail you a new password right away. We will only send passwords to the primary address on the account and we will never give passwords over the phone.  Once you receive your new password, you must link your e-filing account to your PACER account.  For more information on linking your e-filing account to your PACER account, please click here

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Q: I cannot login. What's wrong?

Here are some things to look out for when having trouble logging in:

  • If you have already linked your e-filing account with your PACER account, make sure you are using your PACER username and password and not your old e-filing username and password.
  • All usernames and passwords are case sensitive. Make sure you do not have your caps lock on.
  • Make sure you are using the correct password for your username.

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Q: How do I change my password after my account is created?

As of August 26, 2019, all account maintenance is handled by the PACER Service Center. To contact the PACER Service Center, visit www.pacer.gov or call (800) 676-6856. For more information on updating your e-filing account, please click here.

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Q: How do I add additional e-mails to my account?

Log in to CM/ECF, go to Utilities > Maintain Your Account and select the Email information button. Select “Add new e-mail address” and add the new address in the box below “Configuration options.” When finished, select the Return to Person Information Screen button, select the Submit button, and then select the additional Submit button.  Any change to your primary e-mail address must be done through www.pacer.gov.   

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PDF

 


Q: What is PDF?

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It is a universal file format that preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it.  

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Q: Why am I required to use PDF?

The court requires PDF because PDF files retain the original document format for all viewers regardless of the computer used. In addition, PDF files are easily read within a web browser’s built-in PDF viewer or other free PDF viewers (such as Adobe Acrobat Reader), an important factor in court documents, which must be identical and accessible for all parties. Word processing files do not satisfy this demand.   

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Q: Are there any low-cost alternatives to PDF software?

You are not required to purchase any specific software to create PDF files for CM/ECF. Although many people associate PDF with Adobe Acrobat, there are many vendors that make software to view and create PDF documents. There are also some free alternatives.  

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Q: How do I get my document into PDF?

There are two common methods for converting a document to PDF. The first is to convert the document electronically using PDF writing software or, on a Mac, using the built-in “Save as PDF” feature in the Print dialog box. This is the fastest way to convert and gives you the smallest file size. To use this method, the document must be available in an electronic format (word processed or on screen in some manner).

The second method is to scan the document. You should only use this method when you have a paper document only, with no electronic format available, as this process gives you a much larger file size. You will need a scanner and PDF software to use this method. We have a few recommendations when scanning to help keep the file size as low as possible: (1) scan using black and white (not grayscale or color); (2) set your dpi (dots per inch) to 300; and (3) make sure you are scanning to PDF and not to TIFF or another format.   

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Q: What is the file size limit?

The file size limit does not refer to a page number limitation. It refers instead to the permitted number of megabytes in a single PDF file. For each filing, the main document and each attachment must be no more than 50MB in size.  

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Q: My file is too big, what do I do?

First, try to make the PDF file smaller. Most PDF software contains an optimization function that can reduce the overall size of a file -- often by more than half.  If your PDF file still is too big to be filed as is, then you need to split the file into smaller parts or segments. The exact process will vary according to the software you are using. You can then attach all of these parts or segments when you submit your filing.

For example, if you have a 60 MB motion for summary judgment, including appendices, you can use your PDF software to split the file into two PDF files so neither exceeds 50 MB:

  • File #1 - Motion
  • File #2 - Exhibits 1-4

When you file the document, you will attach File #1 as your main document and File #2 as an attachment to the motion.

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Q: I am trying to file a large number of attachments but am having trouble, what do I do?

If you have a large group of documents to be filed, you may split the filing into multiple filings (e.g., Administrative Record Part 1, Administrative Record Part 2). Each filing must consist of a main document (e.g., Notice of Filing Administrative Record) and may include multiple attachments (including a description of what is contained in each attachment). When uploading the attachments, if you experience delays or failure, add fewer attachments to complete the filing and then include the remainder of the attachments in a supplemental filing (e.g., Notice of Filing Administrative Record Part 2). Please use the proper event when filing voluminous records (e.g., Administrative Record or Medical Records) instead of the generic Notice or Notice of Filing.  

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Q: When I try to view or download multiple documents, I see a blank page with the words "Your download will begin in a separate window."? What should I do?

At the top of your webpage you should see a message: "To help protect your security, Internet Explorer blocked this site from downloading files to your computer. Click here for options." (or something similar). Click on the message bar. This will allow you to view or download your files.  

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Q: How should I redact my PDF file?

The best way to ensure good redaction is to redact the original document prior to creating it as a PDF file. This way, the redacted text is never part of the PDF file and cannot be uncovered. There are also redaction features in some commercial PDF software. Additional information about redaction is available here.  

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Rules and Procedures

 


Q: Which rule covers electronic filing procedures?

Appendix E addresses electronic filing.  

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Q: Is it possible to correct a mistake after I have filed a document?

Once you have hit the final Submit button in CM/ECF, your document is entered on the docket and served electronically. At this point, the document is part of the official record of the case and service cannot be modified. If you realize that you have made an error, call us for assistance at 866-784-6273 (toll free) or 202-357-6402 (local) (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time). The resolution will depend on the particular error.  

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Q: How do I file a joint motion?

You file a joint motion electronically the same way you file a joint motion in paper form. Either one counsel signs the document on behalf of opposing counsel pursuant to Rule 83.1(c)(2) or counsel sends a copy of the document to opposing counsel through e-mail for his or her signature and then converts the document into PDF.

PLEASE DO NOT file two identical motions, one by each counsel. This does not comply with the court’s rules for a joint filing and creates unnecessary clutter on the docket which may then need to be resolved through an order of the court.  

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Q: Opposing counsel was not served electronically. What should I do?

You are not responsible for service of an electronically filed document unless directed by court order to do so. If failure of service is the fault of opposing counsel, it is opposing counsel’s responsibility to obtain a copy of the document through PACER. If failure of service is due to a technical problem at the court, then the court will serve an electronic and/or paper copy of the document on the appropriate counsel.  

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Q: I experienced technical problems that prevented me from meeting a filing deadline. What should I do?

If your computer has crashed or you are having technical problems that will not allow you to complete your filing, you may:

  • find a working computer within your office;
  • use a public computer;
  • (if local) come to the Clerk’s Office during business hours (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time); or
  • file a motion for extension of time out of time explaining the situation.

You MAY NOT file a paper version of the document. If you need further assistance, please call us at 866-784-6273 (toll free) or 202-357-6402 (local) (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time).  

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Q: How do I sign for another attorney?

You sign for another attorney electronically the same way you sign for another attorney in paper cases. Pursuant to Rule 83.1(c)(2), you may sign for another attorney by signing his or her name ("s/[attorney’s name]") followed by your name ("by s/[your name]"). For example: s/John Doe by s/Jane Doe. Just remember to add the "s/" prior to both names.  

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Technical Issues

 


Q: I am trying to file a document but I keep getting this error message: "ERROR: Document is not a well-formed PDF document." What should I do?

This error message appears when you are trying to attach a document in the CM/ECF system that is not a PDF file. Only PDF files may be filed electronically. You will need to go to the source document and convert it into PDF before you can proceed with filing.      

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Q: I do not see a link to a document on the docket sheet. What does this mean?

There are a couple of reasons this may occur:

  • The case may be a paper case. If the document numbers on the docket sheet are not blue hyperlinks (like this: 3), then the document is not available electronically. For more information about obtaining copies of paper documents, please call us at 866-784-6273 (toll free) or 202-357-6402 (local) (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time).

  • The judge or special master may have issued a non-PDF order, in which case the docket text constitutes the order—there is no uploaded PDF file.

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Q: Why am I not getting e-mail notifications of filings in my case?

There are a couple of reasons this may occur:

  • You have not registered for an e-filing account. You cannot receive electronic notifications if you do not have an e-filing account.

  • You have edited your notification list in your e-mail information to notify you of filings in certain cases only. You need to keep this list up to date with new cases if you have chosen to depart from our default settings (all cases in which you are a participant).

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Q: The system keeps kicking me out when I try to file. Every time I try to log in, it says that I am already logged in. When I click the button to continue, it sends me back to the login screen. What should I do?

When this occurs, clear your browser cache.

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Q: What are the CM/ECF attorney rules for viewing sealed documents?

An attorney must have an e-filing account to view sealed documents. The attorney must also be the attorney of record for an active party in the case.

When an attorney attempts to open a sealed document, he or she MUST be logged in to the filing system; otherwise, he or she will be presented with the log in screen. Access to sealed documents is granted only to the attorneys of record in the case. CM/ECF will only grant access to sealed documents after verifying the attorney’s login credentials.

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