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Initiating a New Civil Case

The following information is intended to provide guidance on how to successfully file a new civil or miscellaneous case in the District of Utah. Initiating documents (e.g., complaint, petition, notice of removal, etc.) may be filed in a variety of ways depending on the party or representative who is filing them. If there are still questions about the case filing process after the information below has been reviewed, please contact the Clerk’s Office: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday at 801-524-6100 or by email at

Filing - Electronic

An attorney who is registered to use the District of Utah’s CM/ECF system may electronically file civil or miscellaneous cases. If an attorney is opening the civil case under the court's Attorney Civil Case Opening Pilot Program, coordination with the Clerk's Office is not required. If an attorney is sending the case initiating documents to the Clerk's Office to open the case, then coordination will be required.

To register for CM/ECF, please visit the Attorney Admissions webpage on the court's website. Registered CM/ECF users are reminded of their obligation to keep their personal contact account information, especially their e-mail addresses, current in PACER.

The Clerk’s Office processes new cases until 4:00 p.m., Monday - Friday. New civil cases received after 4:00 p.m. are processed the following business day.


  • Complete the Civil Cover Sheet and the initiating documents. The cover sheet form is available on the court’s website.
  • All documents to be filed must include an electronic signature or the /s/ signature, be formatted as a flattened PDF, and comply with the formatting conditions of Local Rule DUCivR 10-1 and the court’s ECF Procedures Manual.
  • E-mail PDF copies of the cover sheet and initiating documents to the Clerk’s Office at before 4:00 p.m. when the court is open for business, if the attorney is using the Clerk's Office to open the case.

NOTE: emailing the initiating documents to the Clerk’s Office does not qualify as “electronically filing.”

  • The Clerk’s Office will review the documents, create the case shell, assign a case number and a judge, and add the parties identified in the initiating documents in CM/ECF.
  • After the Clerk’ Office has created the case shell, a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) will be emailed to the attorney’s address on file with PACER with instructions to efile the initiating documents.


  • After receiving the NEF, the attorney must efile the initiating documents and pay the filing fee by the end of the same business day.

NOTE: an attorney who elects to receive a “Daily Summary” of NEFs must contact the Clerk’s Office the same day that they emailed the cover sheet and initiating documents to find out if the case shell has been created.

NOTE: efiling is incomplete until a NEF is received confirming receipt of payment and filing of the initiating document.  

Filing - In-Person or by Mail

An unrepresented party may file a new civil case by emailing, mailing, or delivering the cover sheet and initiating documents to the Clerk’s Office.

  Preparation and Filing

  • Prepare the Civil Cover Sheet and initiating documents (e.g., complaint, petition, notice of removal).
  • All documents must be signed (e.g., electronic signature, wet signature, or /s/ signature).
  • Either Email PDF copies to or mail or deliver original copies and the appropriate filing fee payment to:

United States District Court
Orrin G. Hatch United States Courthouse
Attn: Clerk’s Office Room 1.100
351 South West Temple, Room 1.100
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Payment - Filing Fee

The filing fee for civil and miscellaneous cases may be paid using or by check, money order, or credit or debit card.

Electronic Payment

  • The filing fee may be paid through when efiling the initiating documents in CM/ECF. During efiling the initiating documents (other than a miscellaneous action), CM/ECF will direct the attorney to to pay the filing fee.
  • After the fee has been paid online by credit or debit card or ACH, will redirect the attorney back to CM/ECF to complete the efiling process.
  • efiling is complete when the attorney receives a NEF confirming receipt of payment and filing of the initiating document.

NOTE: if the fee is paid but a NEF is not received, the fee still may be debited from the payment account; however, the initiating documents may not be filed. If this occurs, please contact the Clerk’s Office for assistance.

  • For miscellaneous cases after the case shell is created, a NEF will be sent directing the attorney to pay the filing fee using the Miscellaneous Case Filing Fee event in CM/ECF, found in "Other Documents" under the "Civil Events" menu. The filing fee must be paid by the end of the business day. After the fee is paid and the  NEF confirming payment has been received, the attorney must then file the initiating documents.
  • The CM/ECF “Date Filed” date will reflect the same date the initiating documents and payment are received, not necessarily the date the case shell is created. If an attorney waits a day or more to electronically file the initiating documents and make the payment after the case shell has been created, the Clerk’s Office will manually update the “Date Filed” date to match the date the payment is received.

In-Person or by Mail

  • An attorney who is unable to pay using may either call the Clerk’s Office to make a payment over the phone or deliver a check to the Clerk’s Office on the same day as electronically filing the initiating documents. When payment is made manually, the attorney must enter the receipt number provided by the Clerk’s Office in the appropriate box in CM/ECF to bypass
  • Checks or money order payments may be delivered or mailed to:

United States District Court
Orrin G. Hatch United States Courthouse
Attn: Clerk’s Office Room 1.100
351 South West Temple, Room 1.100
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Filing Fee Schedule
The District of Utah is required to charge fees for services (e.g., filing a complaint or providing copies of court records) provided by district courts. The court's fee schedule is available online.


Payment - Waiver of Fees

  • To request a waiver of or payment plan to pay the filing fee, a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Nonincarcerated Party) or a Motion to Proceed Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Incarcerated Party) must be filed at the same time the initiating documents are filed with the court.
  • Please review Local Rule DUCivR 3-2 for more information.
  • If the court grants the motion, the Clerk’s Office will file the initiating documents as of the date of the order granting the motion.
  • After the motion is granted, a magistrate judge or district judge will review the complaint or initiating documents under DUCivR 3-2. The court may dismiss the case at any time if it determines that:
    • the allegation of indigence is untrue;
    • the court lacks jurisdiction;
    • the claims are frivolous or malicious;
    • the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or
    • the complaint seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune.

Service - Summons, Service of Process, and Proof of Service


  • A summons is a document that instructs the defendant to respond to the initiating documents (e.g., complaint). 
  • Parties are responsible for completing the summons (which the clerk issues). A blank civil summons is available at
  • An unrepresented party proceeding In Forma Pauperis (IFP) will also need to complete the USM-285 form available at
  • 1 summons should be completed for each defendant.
  • The name and address of the defendant must be complete and legibly filled in on the summons or the clerk cannot issue the summons.
  • After the initiating documents are filed, an attorney or unrepresented party must send the completed summons to the Clerk’s Office using email at or by mail or hand delivery.
  • A clerk will issue and file the summons in the case, unless the unrepresented party is proceeding IFP. In IFP cases, the clerk will issue the summons after the court orders service.
  • A NEF will be sent indicating that the summons is available for download to include in the service packet. The Clerk’s Office will send the issued summons to any unrepresented party who has not registered for email filing and electronic notification of case activity.
  • A summons and return issued and filed in a civil case are publicly available on CM/ECF, unless the court otherwise orders.

Filing Fee Paid

  • When an unrepresented, nonincarcerated party pays the filing fee, the party must email, mail, or deliver the completed summons to the Clerk’s Office for issuance.
  • When the summons has been issued, the Clerk’s Office will mail the signed summons to the party to include in the service packet.
  • The party is responsible to serve the summons and initiating documents on the defendant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4.
  • A copy of the summons and proof of service must be filed with the Clerk’s Office.

Filling Fee Waived

  • If the court has waived the filing fee or established a payment plan and orders service, the party (incarcerated or nonincarcerated) must complete a civil summons and a USM285 form for each defendant and email, mail, or deliver the completed forms to the Clerk’s Office.
  • The clerk will issue the summons and send a service packet, as required, to the United States Marshal to serve the defendant.
  • If nonincarcerated party fails to return the completed summons and USM285 form to the Clerk’s Office, the court may dismiss the case.

Service of Process

  • Service of the summons and initiating documents on the defendant must be completed within 90 days from the date the initiating documents were filed or the case will be subject to dismissal. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 4.
  • When the court orders service be made in a case filed by an unpresented party who is proceeding IFP, the court will instruct the Clerk’s Office how to complete service. For a party who is proceeding IFP but has counsel, the court may provide counsel the opportunity to effectuate service without using the Marshal’s Office.
  • Service of process in civil actions filed against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration under §205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is effectuated consistent with General Order 22-008.
  • A summons is not required for petitions under 28 U.S.C. §2254 (writ of habeas corpus filed by a person in state custody) or a motion under 28 U.S.C. §2255 (a request to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence filed by a person in federal custody).

NOTE: Please review Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 when suing United States Government or one of its agencies. The government cannot waive service of process.

Proof of Service (Return of Service)

  • After the defendant has been served, a proof of service must be efiled in the case and attached to a copy of the issued summons.
  • When the United State Marshal’s Office serves a summons at the direction of the court, the Marshal’s office will send a return of service to the court to be filed in the case.
  • If the defendant has waived formal service of process, the signed waiver of service must be filed in the case.