November 2018 | No. 11/2018


Future Decommissioning of Fax Transmission at the International Bureau and Transition to Using the ePCT System

The International Bureau (IB) currently accepts the filing of documents by fax.  It is recalled, however, that on 1 January 2018, the IB’s telecommunication service provider ceased to provide analogue lines, and the IB was obliged to move to Fax Over Internet Protocol (FoIP) technology (see PCT Newsletter No. 12/2017).  Unfortunately, this technology carries the possibility of partial or total loss of the transmission while still indicating success to the sender.  It should also be noted that some IP Offices have either ceased to accept fax transmissions, or have indicated that they intend to do so in the near future.  

Consequently, the IB has consulted1 with Offices in their capacity as receiving Office (RO), International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) and/or designated or elected Office, as well as certain non‑governmental organizations representing users of the PCT System, to propose that the IB cease accepting PCT‑related documents submitted by fax, as well as cease sending communications by fax.  The responses received generally acknowledged the need to close down the fax service.  However, a concern was expressed by users that no longer accepting fax transmission would result in the loss of an alternative communication means that is not reliant on an internet connection.  In this regard, the IB will continue to work with PCT Contracting States towards ensuring that appropriate safeguards are available to users in the case of outages in electronic filing servers and unavailability of internet services.

In order to give users more time to transition to using the ePCT system, the IB will continue to operate fax services, at least until the end of February 2019.  The exact date from which fax documents will no longer be accepted will be notified before the end of January 2019.  A document upload service will also be deployed shortly that will allow the upload of PDF documents, including new international applications or post‑filing documents, without having to sign in to a WIPO Account.  Unlike fax services, it will provide secure transmission of documents, though without any of the additional benefits and validations offered by the ePCT system. This document upload service has been developed primarily as a contingency service in the event that the ePCT system is not available.  It is recalled that using ePCT with additional strong authentication (digital certificate or one‑time password) allows you to upload documents not only to the IB, but also to any other participating Offices in their capacity as RO, ISA or IPEA.  Further information is available on the ePCT Help page at:


The new document upload service will be deployed in demo mode during the second half of November 2018;  a production version is expected to be available at the beginning of December 2018. 

It is recommended that applicants keep themselves updated with the latest information on communications services with all the Offices that they use.  Information on what form(s) of telecommunications an Office will accept is included in the relevant part of Annex B of the PCT Applicant’s Guide.

  1. See PCT Circular C. PCT 1545 available at:  https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/circulars/2018/1545.pdf
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