New Case Filing FAQs

  1. How do I file a new civil case?

    Nearly all new civil cases must be opened (filed) electronically using the court’s e-filing system, CM/ECF.  Effective December 2020, civil miscellaneous (MISC) cases filed by represented parties must be opened using the Attorney Miscellaneous Case Opening procedures in CM/ECF.

    Manual filing of new case-opening documents is no longer available, except for:

    • Sealed cases
    • Cases brought by unrepresented (“pro se”) litigants

    Online case filing should not be used to reopen or transfer a case. These actions should be accomplished using the appropriate civil events in ECF within the existing case docket.

    For more information, visit the E-filing a New Civil Case webpage.

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  2. How do I file a new civil case under seal?

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  3. What is the fee for filing a new civil case?

    Please see the fee schedule summary page for current fee information.

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  4. Can faxed copies be filed?

    Civil Local Rule 5-3 governs the filing of facsimiling copies of documents. The fax copy should not be transmitted directly to the clerk by electronic or telephonic means.

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  5. What forms are available for filing a new complaint if I’m representing myself?

    Information on the court’s Legal Help Centers as well as forms, handbooks, filing instructions and other resources for individuals representing themselves in federal court is available at Representing Yourself in the United States District Court: Information for Pro Se Litigants.

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  6. I am a pro se litigant filing a new civil case. How do I file my complaint at the Clerk’s Office?

    Pro se litigants (people filing cases without an attorney) should bring their papers for filing to the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. To avoid lines, it is best to come in the mid-morning, during lunchtime, or 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    If it is not possible to come to the Clerk’s Office during regular business hourse, it is possible to file papers using the drop boxes in the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose courthouses. Access to the drop boxes is limited for the public by the hours during which the building is open. For complete drop box filing information, see Drop Box Filing Procedures.

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