Setting Up Your ECF Account (Attorneys/Journalists/Public)
Welcome to CM/ECF! If you are an attorney, a journalist or another interested member of the public, this page is for you. If you are a pro se litigant (an individual party to a case in federal court who does not have a lawyer), please go to our pro se litigants’ registration page.
Step 1: Are you already registered?
If you think there is some possibility that you are already registered but you aren’t sure, or you registered in the past but do not remember your login and/or password, please take a moment to complete this step. We would like to keep your account active and avoid having more than one account for you.
To find out if you are already registered, even if you do not plan to register now, or to retrieve login/password information please visit our ECF Registration Status page.
Step 2: Review the registration FAQs on this page to learn about the registration process
- Who may register for ECF?
- Who must register for ECF?
- Who may not register for e-filing in ECF?
- What information will I need to provide to register?
- How long does it take to process a registration?
- If I’m registered for ECF elsewhere, am I automatically registered for ECF here (or vice versa)?
- Must I register separately for PACER?
- Once I’m registered, do I ever need to register again?
- I lost my login and/or password! How do I recover them?
- I work for more than one firm; may I get more than one ECF login?
Step 3: Start a new registration
If you have determined that you are not already registered, start a new registration now.
ECF Registration FAQs
Who may register for ECF?
Attorneys may register for ECF. Membership in the bar of the Northern District of California or permission to practice pro hac vice is required, except for counsel for the United States. Attorneys may register with or without an active case in our court.
Parties representing themselves (“pro se litigants”) may register with prior permission of the assigned judge in the specific case. Forms and instructions are available on this website. [link to page]
Journalists and members of the public may sign up for Special Mailing Group access, which does not include e-filing privileges.
There are no training prerequisites.
Who must register for ECF?
All attorneys actively practicing in this Court, including attorneys from other jurisdictions appearing pro hac vice, are required to register for ECF.
ECF registrations are by attorney, not by firm, so each attorney on the case must register individually.
Who may not register for e-filing in ECF?
Non-attorneys who work in law offices and e-file on behalf of attorneys may not open their own e-filing accounts in ECF. Instead, an attorney may provide his/her login information to a staff member and authorize that staff member to e-file the attorney’s court documents.
An attorney may also add a secondary email address to get notification of e-filed documents. This can be immensely useful if the person doing the e-filing on the attorney’s behalf does not have access to the attorney’s email.
What information will I need to provide to register?
- Complete work/business contact information, including primary email address to be used for e-filing and NEFs;
- Bar membership information, including admission date (not required for SMG registrants);
- A login name meeting specified criteria and a “key question” and answer of your own choosing. The system will assign you a password. More information about these items is provided on the registration page.
- There are no fees and you will not be asked for a credit card or payment information.
How long does it take to process a registration?
Usually only one business day. Instant registration is not possible, so please plan ahead.
If I’m registered for ECF elsewhere, am I automatically registered for ECF here (or vice versa)?
No. Each district is separate (Northern/Southern/Central/Eastern California), but San Francisco, Oakland and
San Jose are all in the Northern District so they are all the same.
Must I register separately for PACER?
Yes. In order to view documents and the docket sheet, you must have a PACER login. ECF and PACER require separate registrations.
Once I’m registered, do I ever need to register again?
No. Your registration is good for life and will never expire.
You do not need to register again if you:
- Lose your login/password;
- Change firms
- Get a new email address
- Start a new case
- Become an inactive member of the bar for a period of time
I lost my login and/or password! How do I recover them?
If you’ve lost your ECF password AND you still have the same e-mail address you had when you first registered for ECF, please click HERE (this will open a new window).
If you’ve lost your ECF password AND you’ve changed firms or have a different e-mail address, please call us at 866-638-7829 (toll-free, 9am-4pm, M-F) and be able to answer the “Key Question” as submitted on your original registration form.
I work for more than one firm; may I apply for more than one ECF login?
Yes. First, email us ECFHelpDesk@cand.uscourts.gov telling us that you intend to do this. Then go ahead and register again for e-filing; type SECOND ACCOUNT in the Address 3 box. Create a second login that is different from your first login.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the correct ECF account is associated with a given case. If you discover that you have associated the wrong account with a case, contact the ECF Help Desk for assistance.