Step One: Check Your Computer Hardware and Software
- Personal Computer – you must have a personal computer (or access to one).
- Document Scanner – a scanner is not required to electronically file most documents, but having one is highly recommended. Documents that are only available in paper or did not originate on your personal computer will need to be scanned before they can be electronically filed with the court.
- Web Browser – CM/ECF has been tested and approved for use with Firefox 3.5, and Internet Explorer 7.0 and 8.0.
- Word-Processing Program – the documents you file will be created using this program. Any type of word processing software is acceptable including, but not limited to, WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works and Notepad.
- PDF Reader – all of the documents you receive from the court and from the opposing parties will be in PDF format. Adobe Acrobat Reader is the most common PDF reader program, and it is available for FREE at www.adobe.com. However, ANY PDF reader program will work.
- PDF Writer – the CM/ECF system only accepts documents in PDF format. You must have the ability to convert your word processing documents from their original format into PDF format. See the link Pro Se FAQs for information on how to find out if your computer already has a PDF printer. Some word processing programs (WordPerfect 9 and above and Macintosh OSX) have this ability built-in. These options are accessed by using the “Publish to PDF” option on the File menu in WordPerfect or “Save As PDF” on the print menu in Macintosh OSX. If your word processor does not have this option, you will need to obtain separate software to perform this function.
- Internet Access to www.ksd.uscourts.gov – the electronic filing system is Internet-based. If you are unable to access this address, you will not be able to file documents. Dial-up connections are acceptable, but faster connections are recommended.
- E-mail Account – when you sign up for electronic filing, you agree to accept all documents from other parties electronically via email. Any email service is acceptable, including free services like Yahoo!Mail, Hotmailor GoogleMail (GMail). YOU MUST HAVE ACCESS TO IT VERY FREQUENTLY! If you do not check your email frequently, you might miss important deadlines set by the judge, placing your case in jeopardy. Please refer to the FAQs for more information regarding email.
If you meet these requirements, you are ready for Step Two – Registering for CM/ECF and PACER!
Step Two: Register for CM/ECF and PACER
- CM/ECF Registration
The CM/ECF filing system requires you to have a login and password issued by the PACER system. PACER stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. At this time, each federal court has it’s own CM/ECF system, so if you electronically file documents in the District of Kansas and the Western District of Missouri, you need a separate login and password for each court. However, a login and password issued in the District of Kansas will allow you to file in all three Kansas divisions – Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City. You may only use your login and password to file documents created on your own behalf–you may NOT file documents on behalf of any other party. To register for a login and password for the District of Kansas, please visit PACER.gov and click on Register. Follow the instructions to register as a non-attorney. The court will also allow you to receive electronic notice of documents without having to electronically file your documents. If you want to receive documents by email and still file your documents in paper, you can select that option on the Pro Se Electronic Notice Form. If you select this option, you will still be required to file all of your pleadings either in person at the clerk’s office or via fax or email to the clerk’s office. Please note that if you register to electronically file your documents, you will automatically receive electronic notice of all documents and do NOT need to complete this part of the form. The Pro Se Electronic Filing Registration form may be found as Form B in the Civil Administrative Procedures.
- PACER Information
You will automatically receive one free look at every document that is filed in your case. However, that free look will expire after ten days. To view a document a second time, after the ten day expiration deadline or to view the docket sheet in the case, you will be charged a PACER access fee. Complete information regarding PACER and the fees associated with PACER is available here.
NOTE: Due to privacy issues, if you file a case against the Social Security Administration or involving immigration, access to your case will be restricted to case participants, court users and public terminals located in the clerk’s office. You will still receive a free look at each document, but PACER will verify your identity to protect your privacy. Your PACER login and password are very sensitive information and should be treated as such. Protecting them is your responsibility. NEVER GIVE THEM OUT TO ANYONE! You and you alone are responsible for any document filed using your login and password and for charges incurred on your PACER account.
Step Three: Learn to E-file
The court provides a CM/ECF training system. This system will let you practice filing specific documents on your own. It uses a unique set of logins, passwords and case numbers (detailed on the initial screens), and you MUST use those to login to the system – your court-issued login and password will not work in the training system.
You also need to be familiar with the court’s rules and procedures. Anyone who files a case, whether electronically or in paper, is expected to be familiar with the appropriate Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Local Rules, and Standing Orders and Administrative Procedures of the court. All of these documents are available on the court’s website under “Rules.” You may also refer to the Pro Se FAQ’s. If this list does not contain the answer to your specific question, please don’t hesitate to contact the clerk’s office where you filed your case.
You have the necessary equipment and software, the appropriate logins and passwords and have reviewed the tutorial and applicable rules and procedures – now what?
Step Four: File Your Documents
Please read the publication “Filing Your Lawsuit in Federal Court: A Pro Se Guide” regarding the forms you will need to file your case and information about how your case will proceed through the court system.
You cannot electronically file the documents that you submit to initiate your case (the complaint, designation of place of trial, civil cover sheet and your electronic filing registration form). These documents will be processed and electronically filed by the clerk’s office staff. You may, however, submit them to the clerk’s office via email at one of the following addresses:
If you prefer, you may also bring the initiating documents to the clerk’s office in paper, on a CD, on a portable memory device such as a flash drive, or submit them by fax.
If you register for electronic filing, any documents you file after your initial complaint should be filed electronically. Once you are certain that you have completed the final draft of your word processing document, you must convert it to PDF format. It is very important to make sure that you know where you have saved the PDF version of your document – you will need to know where to find it later! When this is complete, you are ready to log into the CM/ECF system and file the document.
Please note that the court will perform a quality check on all filings and may, at their discretion, make any corrections to your docket entry that they deem necessary.
Still have questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our divisional offices!
How to Convert Documents to PDF Format
You must convert all of your documents to PDF (Portable Document Format) before submitting them to the court’s Electronic Case Filing (ECF) system. The PDF conversion process requires special software such as Adobe Acrobat, or there are several free versions of PDF creators from which to choose.
Once you have installed a PDF creator/printer, then you have the ability convert any electronic document to the PDF format. This is typically performed by opening the document and printing to the PDF printer. You will be prompted to name the file, and you want to make note of which directory you are saving the file.
Once you have completed the PDF conversion, you are ready to file your document to CM/ECF.