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ECF Frequently Asked Questions

What is Electronic Case Filing (ECF)?

ECF allows attorneys to file petitions and other electronic documents with designated United States Courts through the Internet by using a standard web browser. This results in a completely electronic "case file" that does not have any papers associated with it at the court. Therefore, all case information is available for examination electronically through the Internet, again through the use of a standard web browser. ECF has become the primary method for filing documents with the court and for retrieving case information from the court.


What are the benefits and features of using ECF?

a.) full case information is available to attorneys, parties and the general public through the Internet. This includes the ability to view the full text of all filed documents.

b.) attorneys registered on the system receive notices of filed documents electronically,

c.) since ECF uses Internet standard software, the out-of-pocket cost of partcipation for atttorneys is typically very low.


How do I access ECF?

To access the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Alabama's Electronic Case Filing system using an Internet enabled web browser, enter in the address bar and activate. You will be prompted to enter your PACER login and password.


What is needed to use ECF? How do I get an account if I don't have one?

A PACER account, a request for an ECF account link through PACER, and software which permits you to create (Adobe Acrobat) and read (Adobe Reader) Portable Document Format (PDF) files. High speed network capability is generally required due to the large size of most legal documents. You must allow popups from ECF to receive the specific screens. ECF works correctly with the latest Firefox and Internet Explorer web browsers.

You may request an ECF account throught PACER. For information on how to file a case through PACER, please visit the PACER website.


What is PDF and Adobe Acrobat?

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. Adobe Acrobat is commercial software from Adobe that allows a document to be saved in PDF. All documents filed in ECF must be in PDF. Acrobat is available from commercial software retailers. Adobe also distributes Acrobat Reader which allows PDF Documents to be viewed and printed (but not to create).


How is payment of filing fees handled for ECF cases?

Payments are made interactively as part of the electronic filing process through the United States Treasury Department's Pay.Gov web site. You may choose to pay after every transaction or make one payment at the end of the day for all transactions.


How is the requirement of an original signature handled for ECF cases?

When registering to use the system, attorneys sign an agreement to the effect that use of their login name and password constitutes their signatures on the document electronically filed. For documents that must be signed by the debtor, the electronically filed document will indicates a signature, e.g. "/s/ Jane Doe".


Can an attorney authorize someone to use the attorney´s login and password to file documents in ECF?

Yes, but the court recommends that such access be very limited. Whatever is filed under that name and password is deemed to have the attorneys signature on it.


Is the system secure (i.e. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) enabled)?

Yes. Ensure your browser has https in the address bar and that your security indicator for your specific browser is active. Use your browser security report tool to view the SSL certificate.


Can the general public view ECF cases and the documents in those cases?

Access to view cases and documents in CM/ECF is available to anyone with a PACER login and password.


Will there be restrictions on who may file documents on CM/ECF?

Our court determines to whom filing privilges are granted. We are currently providing document filing access to attorneys, Bankruptcy Administrator´s office, trustees, and claims filers.


Will the creator of the docket entry be identified?

Yes. All docket entries can be identified by the name of the person that logged in and submitted the entry.


How many users can submit documents at once?

There is no fixed limit.


How many people at a time may view a document?

There is no fixed limit.


How many people at a time may view the docket?

There is no fixed limit.


Is there a limit to the number of aliases a party may have?

There is no fixed limit.


Does CM/ECF check for duplicate filings when a user opens a case? In other words, when a party name is entered, will the system alert the user to other cases in which the filer appears?

The PACER Service Center provides the U.S. Party Case Index for research on filings in other courts by a debtor. The CM/ECF software does not automatically check for duplicate filings. However, when adding a participant to a case, a pick list is presented with the names of parties that are already in the database.


How do I change my PACER account password?

Visit the PACER Service Center home page and select the option to 'Manage My PACER Account'. Contact PACER at phone number (800)676-6856 or by email at for additional help.


How do I add secondary email addresses to receive copies of pleadings for an attorney?

  • Login to your ECF account through PACER
  • Select [Utilities] from the main menu
  • Select [Maintain Your ECF Account]
  • Select [Email information ...] button
  • Enter and Reenter "Secondary email addresses" information
  • Under "Send the notices specified below" area, check the box for "to the secondary address"
  • Select the [Return to Account screen] button
  • Select [Submit] button
  • You should now see a message similar to:

Updating person record...
Successfully updated Attorney XYZ
Primary email address: primary_email
Secondary email address:

[list of secondary emails]