NOTE: Effective May 1, 2020, and until further notice, pro se litigants whose names appear on existing cases before this court may register to become ECF users and may file documents electronically without first obtaining a judge’s permission. Initial complaints and other case-opening documents must still be filed manually or by mail/private carrier.
If you have an existing pro se e-filing account, and you wish to e-file in another case in which your name is listed, send an email to ECFHelpDesk@cand.uscourts.gov to link your account to that case.
E-filing Self-Registration Instructions for Pro Se Litigants
After a complaint is filed and a case is opened, the docket and all documents in the case are maintained in an electronic format so that they can be viewed on a computer. Attorneys are required to file documents electronically (“e-file”). Parties representing themselves are not required to e-file, but many choose to do so. There are no registration costs and no fees for e-filing.
What do you need to e-file?
- Access to a computer.
- Frequent access to your email account.
- A word-processing program to create your documents.
- The ability to convert word processing documents into PDFs. (Many word processing programs come with this ability.)
- A way of scanning documents if you need to include attachments of paper documents.
Registration Instructions for Pro Se Litigants
In order to e-file with our court, you will need to have a PACER account. To create a PACER account, please visit: https://pacer.uscourts.gov/.
After you have created a PACER account, go to the above link and click on the “Log in to…” link on the top right corner of the page. After clicking the link, you will see three boxes. Choose the box that says, “Manage PACER Account.”
After you have entered your login, you should see tabs below your account information. Click on the tab that says “Maintenance.”
Choose the hyperlink that says, “Non-Attorney E-File Registration.”
Choose court type as “U.S. District Courts.”
Choose court as “California Northern District Court.”
Choose role in court as “Party.”
Be sure to check the acknowledgement box.
Review your information to make sure it is correct.
Under “Additional Filer Information,” in the box that says “Most Recent Case,” enter the case number in which you are a party and wish to e-file. Failure to fill out this box will result in a rejection of the application.
If you are signing up for an SMG account, please leave the most recent case field blank, and type “SMG” in the box that says “Other Names Used.”
Choose your preferred delivery method and format for receiving notices of filing.
Review the information on the following screen, then click “next.”
Review the information on the following screen, click the boxes to acknowledge that you have read the information, then click submit.
Please wait for confirmation from the ECF Helpdesk that your application has been processed.
Do you want to e-file?
- You can e-file from any computer.
- You do not have to go to the courthouse to file your court papers.
- You have until midnight on the day your filing is due to e-file (instead of 4:00 p.m. for delivery to the Clerk’s Office for paper filings).
- You do not need to mail paper copies to the court or other parties.
- You will likely have more time to respond to any motion filed by the opposing side because you can receive and review the motion as soon as it is filed, instead of having to wait for your copy to arrive by mail.
Issues to Consider:
- You must have all necessary hardware and software required to e-file, so there may be some initial cost.
- You may require some training in how to convert documents to PDFs, and how to log into and use the court’s electronic case filing system (“ECF”) to file documents. (Free training on this is available on the court’s website.)
- You will not receive documents in paper, so you will be responsible for checking your e-mail frequently to make sure you read filings and court orders. You will need to print out all documents yourself.
- See the current Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule for information on e-filing costs. Please note that:
- You will owe no fees until you accrue more than $30.00 of charges in a quarterly billing cycle.
- Each party receives one free copy of all e-filed documents, via notice of electronic filing or notice of docket activity.
- No fee is charged for access to judicial opinions.