Applying for an international patent online
The new ePCT system is a faster, cheaper way to file international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Alternatively, applicants may use WIPO's earlier offering of PCT-SAFE.
PCT applications filed via either channel are eligible for a discount, depending on the format of the application, and can be transmitted to the WIPO faster because there is no paper or postage involved. See our fees page for details.
In addition, you have the option to file through eServices, however WIPO do not provide a reduction in fees if you choose to file through this channel.
Both electronic channels (ePCT and PCT-SAFE) are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except during advertised maintenance periods) so that you can file your international patent applications at your own convenience.
Filing you application using ePCT (our preferred means of filing)
ePCT is a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) online system and is a faster, cheaper way to file international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
PCT applications filed electronically are eligible for a discount. Applications filed via EPCT also have the benefit of being allocated a PCT application number immediately and can be viewed almost instantaneously, once they have been submitted for processing by the Receiving Office (RO). As it is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week WIPO hosted system, you can file your international applications at your own convenience.
Getting started with ePCT
In order to use ePCT for filing your international application, you first need to register with WIPO as an ePCT user, create an account and upload a digital certificate. You can do so by accessing the ePCT homepage.
Payment options for applications filed via ePCT
After you have submitted your application you will have two options for payment, these are either to pay at the time of filing via eServices, or to await issuance of a fee notice.
As a PCT application number is allocated at the time of filing, you may use this as a reference and make payment using the eServices 'Make a Payment' option.
For help or support
Any technical help or support required for ePCT should be requested via the ePCT support email address.
Preparing your application with PCT-SAFE
The PCT-SAFE software offers applicants the means to prepare their international application in electronic form and to file them online, on physical media or in PCT-EASY mode.
PCT-SAFE enables two modes of filing PCT applications:
- PCT-EASY mode: The Request form as well as the application body of the international application will be submitted on paper , accompanied by a physical medium (CD) which contains a zip with the request form and abstract and a log file which is created through the PCT SAFE software
- PCT SAFE Fully Online mode: The description, claims, abstract and drawings of the international application are uploaded through the PCT-SAFE software in PDF, TIFF or XML format.
The choice between the two filing modes is made when preparing the request form in the PCT-SAFE software
In order to prepare your application electronically using either of the above modes, you will need to get the latest version of WIPO's PCT-SAFE software package. If you have decided to prepare your application using the PCT-SAFE Fully online mode then a free digital certificate from the WIPO website is also needed. Please be aware that the digital certificate can take up to 24 hours to obtain.
Electronic document formats accepted
You can use any of the following document formats to upload documents into PCT-SAFE before submitting your PCT application electronically:
- XML - You can obtain the XML specification for PCT documents from the WIPO website. You can use WIPO's PCT-SAFE Editor to prepare you application documents in WIPO's XML format
- WIPO Standard ST.25*
- PDF (attachments only)
- TIFF (attachments only)
* Used for the presentation of Nucleotide and Amino Acid Sequence Listings in patent specifications.
Filing your PCT application online
Once you have prepared your application using PCT-SAFE and saved it as a WASP (.zg1) file, it is ready for submission through our online International (PCT) application (requires login).
Once you have uploaded your application you will be given a pre-filing number (SPEC number) and an electronic submission receipt will be issued.
If there are any technical problems with your application (e.g. invalid digital signature, virus, missing attachments) these will be explained in your submission receipt.
Size limit for online filing
If the WASP file for your application exceeds 20MB it cannot be filed online.
For applications with large files, you can use the PCT-EASY mode of WIPO's PCT-SAFE software to prepare your request form and submit your specification via paper.
Payment options for PCT applications
After you have submitted your application, you will have two options for payment - 'Pay Now' or 'Pay Later'. If you select Pay Now you will be directed to the online payment form after you have submitted your application.
If you select Pay Later we will send you a fee notice.
Resubmitting online applications
If your application generated an error when you uploaded it, then you will need to contact IP Australia for assistance to resubmit your application. You may be asked to submit a complete paper application in order to secure your original filing date.
Filing dates for electronic applications will be based on the date or time that we receive your application in full.
For resubmitted applications, the filing date may be backdated to the original submission date once the resubmitted application has been verified.
Processing of online PCT applications
Aside from the calculation of fees and the method of transmission to WIPO's International Bureau, PCT applications filed electronically through us will be treated the same as applications filed through other methods.
For help or support
For further information about WIPO's PCT-SAFE software and digital certificates, please refer to WIPO PCT user support.
Any support required for the WIPO PCT-SAFE software or digital certificates should be requested from the WIPO PCT-SAFE help desk.
If you are experiencing problems with uploading or checking the status of PCT-SAFE applications through this website, please contact us for assistance.
PCT application forms
If filing is not possible electronically you can use our PDF request form below and send your application through mail or fax:
Last Updated: 24/4/2014