Instructions for Filing a Complaint

To bring an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, you must file a complaint. You should keep a copy of the complaint for your own records.

There is a filing fee that must be paid in order to maintain an action in federal court. Effective May 1, 2013, the total cost for filing a civil action in this court is $400.00 (consisting of the civil filing fee of $350.00, see 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), and an administrative fee of $50.00). Please visit our Court Fees & Rates page for more information. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may request that the Court allow you to proceed "in forma pauperis." 28 U.S.C. § 1915. If your Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis is granted, you will not be required to pay either the $350.00 filing fee or the $50.00 administrative fee. The Clerk cannot accept for filing a complaint that is not accompanied by either the full filing fee or a completed in forma pauperis application.

  • You are encouraged to use the forms made available to you by the Court. Forms may be obtained in person, or by mail, from the Clerk of the Court, and are available on the Court's website under ProSe Handbook & Forms.
  • Your complaint should contain:
    1. A caption which identifies the parties to the action
    2. A concise statement of the facts
    3. A short and plain statement of your claim(s) showing why you are entitled to relief
    4. A statement of the relief that you seek.
  • You should not include sensitive personal identifying information (e.g., social security numbers, names of minor children, dates of birth, financial account numbers, home addresses) in any document filed with the Court unless such inclusion is necessary and relevant to the case. If sensitive information must be included, it is your obligation to partially redact the personal identifiers from the document. Please familiarize yourself with this Court's Local Rule 8.1 Personal Privacy Protection.
  • Your complaint must be legibly handwritten or typed.
  • You must sign and date your complaint. If there is more than one plaintiff, each plaintiff must personally sign and date the complaint.
  • You may be required to fill out other documents at the request of the Clerk of the Court or the Court, including, but not limited to a summons, a civil cover sheet, and USM-285 forms.
  • You may file documents with the Clerk of the Court in person, or by mail. Please visit our Maps, Locations & Hours page for office hours, addresses, and locations.