General Access to Bankruptcy Case Documents - Open and Closed Cases


Documents in cases filed from January 1998 to present are available in electronic form and can be obtained directly from:

  • PACER with a PACER login and password (See PACER fees);
  • The Bankruptcy Clerk's office by emailing (rib_helpdesk@rib.uscourts.govor telephone at 401-626-3100. You may request a copy of an electronic document in your case without charge;
  • Printed from the Clerk’s office public computers for a fee per page (Effective June 1, 2021 - the Clerk's Office is open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday-Friday, except holidays);
  • CM/ECF (Registered users, only).


Documents in cases filed prior to 1998 are available in hard copy only.  Some cases are maintained in the Clerk’s office, and others are held at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Northeast Region-Boston Federal Records Center in Waltham Massachusetts[1].  Retention periods for case files vary. Some records are stored permanently while others are disposed of 15 years after they were transferred to storage[2].  (We strongly suggest that you call the Clerk’s office at 401-626-3100 to verify the location of your case before visiting the Clerk's office).

Documents in cases filed prior to 1998 can be obtained with assistance by the Court, or directly from NARA. 

Option #1 - Bankruptcy Court Assistance.

There are two ways the Court can assist you in obtaining copies of your case:

  1. Obtain copies from the Court via SmartScan:

SmartScan is a NARA service in which the specific paper documents are located, pulled and scanned into a PDF format then transmitted to the court via email. Upon payment of the applicable fees, the court will then email the requesting party the documents. This option is best if you need your documents fast.

There is a limit of 100 pages to utilize SmartScan. Requests over 100 pages will require the records to be shipped to the Court. The court will contact you with the total fee due and after payment, your records will be delivered to you via email.

Fees for the folowing can be foung at this link:

  • Electronic Record Retrieval (SmartScan)
  • FRC Electronic Retrieval Flat Fee 
  • ERC Electronic Retrieval Rate (per Page) 
  1. Have your case shipped to the Court:

1. Contact the Court and request that the Court order the file from the Federal Records Center.

2. The Clerk’s office will contact the Federal Records Center and, if the case has not already been disposed of, they will contact you regarding the fee

3. Once the fee is paid, the Clerk’s office will request the file back from NARA.

4. The Clerk’s office will notify you when the files arrive at the Court. You will have 30 days to come into the Clerk’s office to review the materials after which they will be returned to NARA. The 30-day period may be extended upon written request for an additional 30 days. If the requested materials are not viewed within the 30-day period or any extension thereof, they will be returned. Any further request for the files will require a new fee to be paid.



These fees are, but are not limited to those contained on this page:

  • Case retrieval fee from the FRC;
  • Fee certification of document;
  • Fee for reproduction of audio recording of a court proceeding;
  • Copy fee per page.

Option #2 – Obtaining Copies From NARA:  

1. Contact the Court and request the following case record information you will need to order your case or documents from NARA:

a. Transfer Number
b. Location Number, and
c. Box Number

2. To request the documents from NARA:

Once you have the information above, you may order copies of documents online at NARA, click on Order Reproductions>Court Records>Bankruptcy Cases  or by completing the National Archives and Records Administration Bankruptcy Cases Order Form (NATF Form 90) and send it to NARA by mail or fax to the address below.

Federal Records Center
Research Room
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452
Phone Toll Free: 781-663-0378
Fax: 781-663-0154


There are varying fees associated with this depending on the option package chosen, however, this option is almost always less expensive than having the Clerk's office retrieve your file for you.   

[1] As of October 1, 2010, the Federal Records Center no longer provides on-site bankruptcy court case review services to the public. This change applies to all closed business and personal bankruptcy case files that remain in legal custody of the court but are physically stored at the NARA Federal Records Center; Waltham facility.

[2] If the Court informs you that the record you requested has been destroyed, you may wish to consider obtaining a copy of the record of disposal and any printable documents available from the Court’s CM/ECF database. (Docket report, Schedules, Order of Discharge etc.)