Limitations on E-Filing
Frequently Asked Questions About File Size for E-Filing
Format and Size Requirements
All documents submitted to ECF must be in PDF format. ECF can accept a single PDF or grouped submission of PDFs up to 50MB/50,000KB (megabytes/kilobytes). See our best practices on creating PDFs
page for more information.
NOTE: PDF/a format is not required at this time.
However, we have seen that PDF/a documents show the least likelihood of being rejected by ECF. If you attempt to upload a PDF document and get this error message:
ERROR: Document is malformed or contains code which may cause an external action (such as launching an application). This PDF document cannot be accepted, try saving the document in PDF/a format, and upload the document again.
Restrictions on what documents can be e-filed
While the majority of both civil and criminal documents can be e-filed, the following list are documents that cannot or should not be e-filed:
INITIATING DOCUMENTS IN CRIMINAL OR PRO SE CIVIL CASES
Initiating documents in criminal cases and civil cases filed by an unrepresented (pro se) party cannot currently be e-filed. These documents must be filed manually.
Effective December 2020, civil miscellaneous (MISC) cases filed by represented parties must be opened using the Attorney Miscellaneous Case Opening procedures in CM/ECF.
Civil case initiating documents filed by represented parties must be filed electronically.
UNDER SEAL DOCUMENTS IN CRIMINAL CASES
Under seal items in criminal cases are currently excluded from the e-filing system. See the page on manual filing for more info and options when e-filing sealed documents in criminal cases.
NOTE: Under seal documents in Civil Cases CAN be e-filed. See the E-Filing Under Seal for instruction.
EX PARTE FILINGS
Because the ECF system automatically notifies all participants in a case (as well as the public in general), ex parte submissions, including those pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), should never be e-filed.
SENSITIVE PRIVATE INFORMATION
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5-2 and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 49-1 restrict the inclusion of personal information in e-filed documents. View a summary of Rule 5-2’s privacy protections.
DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Discovery-related communications between counsel are not typically filed, electronically or otherwise, without an order of the court. This includes initial disclosures, discovery responses, and expert disclosures are also not filed.
Initial disclosures described in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) are not to be e-filed but should be provided directly to the other parties in the case. Consult Fed R. Civ. P. 26 for language governing the content and the time for production of initial disclosures.
ITEMS THAT CANNOT BE SCANNED
Civil Local Rule 5-1 provides that if the document(s) do not exist in electronic format and it is not feasible to convert it, you may use the Manual Filing Notification procedure instead.
FILES THAT ARE TOO BIG
Files that exceed 50MB cannot be e-filed. See our FAQs on what to do if your file is too big.
Exhibits which are physical objects or anything other than documents cannot be e-filed. This includes electronic files which can not be converted to .pdf, such as music and video files. Such files must be filed manually in an accessible format.
When in doubt, consult the judge in your case.