The FCC has a robust online Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”) that allows users to file comments, reply comments, appeals, waiver requests, etc. or to search and read documents filed by other parties.  ECFS serves as the repository for official and public records in the FCC’s proceedings from 1992 to the present.  This guide provides basic instructions for using ECFS.

Search for Filings

The FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System opens in the “Search for Filings” mode with an extensive list of fields that allows a user to search using a variety of parameters.  Search options, of which one or two are generally sufficient, include the proceeding number, the filer, date range, and filing type.

And more with a “Search” button at the bottom


The easiest way to find documents filed by others in a specific FCC proceeding is to use the assigned docket number.  The docket number can be found on the first page of the proceeding itself.  In the example below, the docket (or proceeding) number is 13-184.

Once you have the docket number, enter that in the “Specific Proceeding” field on the search screen.  That will bring up the confirming name of the docket.  Select that docket then scroll down and click “Search.”

The search results will show all documents that have been filed and posted in that docket starting with the most recent posting (normally one business day after the document was filed).   The total of number of filings in that docket is included in a summary table on the left.  Related filings by the FCC itself are shown on the right.

Buttons to access earlier documents are found at the bottom of each page.

Filing Comments

To file comments, appeals, waivers, or other documents, start again at the Electronic Comment Filing System page, then click on the “Submit a FILING” tab at the top.

That will bring you to the basic filing submission page.

This is the default page for filing a “Standard Filing,” underlined in yellow.  With a standard filing, you can upload one or more formal documents.  Note that there is also an “Express Comment.” option.  The process for filing either is simple, but we’ll start with the less formal Express option.

Express Comments:

Express comments require no formal document.  To file, you simply indicate the docket number, identify yourself, provide basic contact information, and type in your brief comments.

There are several points to note:

  • Once you’ve entered the docket number and your name in each of the first two fields, you must press the “Enter” key.  If you skip this step in either field, your entry will disappear when you move to the next field.
  • Comments can be as brief as you want.  We’ve seen them as short as a single sentence or as long as a page.  Longer comments can be typed up in Word first, edited, then copied and pasted into the Express form.
  • There is a little checkbox at the bottom to be used if you want to receive an email confirmation of your filing.
  • Once the comments are entered, you’ll “Continue to review screen,” review your filing, then “Submit” it.

Once filed, express comments will appear in the FCC’s ECFS system as shown in the following example.

Standard Filing Comments:

Standard filings are prepared in advance; saved in a Word, PDF, or other file format; then uploaded into the ECFS filing system.  Generally, standard filings tend to be more formal.

  • Often they are started in a format that mimics that of the underlying docket.  For example:

  • Other times they may be in letter form addressed to a specific FCC bureau or, more generally, to the FCC Secretary.  For example:

  • Sometimes there is no heading at all.

A Standard Filing begins with completing a submission form much like the page shown above for an Express Filing.  The Standard Filing form, however, includes a few extra identification fields that may or may not always be required (e.g., “Law Firm(s)”).

One additional field that is generally appropriate is “Type of Filing.”  This field has a pulldown list of options as shown on the next page with several common types (e.g., “COMMENT” and “REPLY TO COMMENTS” on top).

Note: The first “Address of” field is not really for an address at all; it’s for designating the addressee in the following address fields (with short pulldown list) as “Filer,” “Law Firm,” or “Author.”

The important last item on the standard filing screen is an “Upload Documents” box that allows you to drag and drop your pre-prepared documents for filing.

Once the filing document(s) is ready for upload, you “Continue to review screen,” check that the contact information is correct and that the right file(s) has been linked for upload, then click “Submit”

Note: The links for standard filings, when they appear in the posted “Search for Filings” list, may lead directly to filing or to a “Filing Detail” page with a link to the filing itself (one extra step).