No more faxing the EPO

Get to know the Contingency Upload Service and emergency fee payment options

J. Gray (GB), Chair Online Communications Committee

What is your ‘Plan B’ for meeting a critical filing deadline when something breaks down in your filings at the EPO? In a few weeks, there will be no more fax filing at the EPO. Web form filing will close later this year, too. How will you know if the fault is at the EPO side or in your system? If you know the fault is at your side, what then? If there is a confirmed outage of EPO filing services, then you may decide you can file later and rely on Rule 134 EPC to extend the deadline. But what if this filing just can’t wait?

Luckily there is a new Contingency Upload Service (CUS) that can be used in emergencies. So, with a little preparation, you can establish a secure ‘Plan B’ for when things go wrong.

Luckily there is a new Contingency Upload Service (CUS) that can be used in emergencies. So, with a little preparation, you can establish a secure ‘Plan B’ for when things go wrong.

Try it out: how will you prepare & file documents? How will you pay fees in an emergency?

Fee payment in emergencies

A particular hazard is that CUS cannot be used to meet a fees deadline, even when the money is already with the EPO, in the user’s deposit account. Likewise, it is impossible to file a valid debit order by email, fax (closing July 2024), on paper or any other form of communication. The recent Board of Appeal decision T480/21 provides a cautionary example. epi is lobbying for a legally safe way for debit orders to be indicated via CUS in an emergency, but in the meantime you need a different Plan B.

The Arrangements for Deposit Accounts (ADA) make clear that the only way to file a debit order to meet a fees deadline is in XML format, using one of the official filing systems (eOLF, OLF2.0, MyEPO Portfolio, Central Fee Payment). In the event that one of these services is unavailable due to a fault or planned outage in the EPO’s systems, the ADA Art 11 provides that deadlines are extended until the service is available. There is no such safeguard when the IT problem is, or may be, at the user’s side. For example, if you have a problem logging in with your smart card or two-factor authentication (2FA) credentials, the problem may be at your side.

There are TWO safe ways to effect emergency fee payment on the last day if you encounter trouble accessing the normal online filing systems, due to a problem at your side. These options are:

  • Credit/debit card payment: As long as (i) the Central Fee Payment system itself is working, (ii) you can access it via a browser and (iii) you have access to a working email account, you can use Central Fee Payment to pay fees on any application using a debit or credit card. You can sign in with your usual EPO email and password without 2FA, to gain limited functionality. Alternatively, you can quickly create a new user account using a different email address. If not you, is there someone else who can do this on your behalf?

  • Bank transfer: Without any access to EPO systems, you can instruct a bank transfer using your own or your company’s banking system. Once you provide proof of the instruction (after the event) the date of the instruction can be treated as the date of payment under RFees Art 7(3)(ii). Again, if not you, who will you call.


CUS is not an alternative to be used in place of the official filing systems, but it could save your case in an emergency. With a little thought and rehearsal, you and your team can be confident of meeting deadlines when things go wrong at the last moment.