You might need to pay fees if you go to court in Ontario. If you cannot afford to pay the fees, you can ask the court to waive them. If you request a fee waiver, the court will consider your financial situation and decide whether you meet the requirements to qualify.

If you meet the requirements and the court agrees to waive the fees, you will get a certificate called a fee waiver. Show this certificate to court staff if they ask you to pay a fee.

If you do not meet the requirements, but cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to have your situation evaluated by a judge.

Each request is reviewed based on the form and documents you submit. The decision of staff or a judge is final. If your financial situation changes, you can request a fee waiver again. There is no cost to apply for a fee waiver.

You need to apply for a separate fee waiver for each case or proceeding you are involved in. A fee waiver will not apply to any fees you have already paid.

Who can ask for a fee waiver

You can ask for a fee waiver if:

  • you are or will be involved in a family, civil or small claims court matter
  • you are not acting on behalf of a business or organization
  • your fees are not being paid by a lawyer under a contingency fee agreement (an arrangement when the lawyer gets paid at the end of the case, depending on the outcome)

The court may approve your request for a fee waiver if one or more of these things are true:

  • your main source of household income is from:
  • your lawyer is being paid by a Legal Aid Certificate
  • you meet the following financial eligibility requirements:
    • the total amount of money everyone in your household earns in a year (before taxes or deductions), called gross annual household income, is below:
      • $33,100 for one person
      • $49,600 for two people
      • $57,300 for three people
      • $68,700 for four people
      • $80,200 for five or more people
    • your household liquid assets are less than $2,800. This includes assets owned by the members of your household that are money or can be converted into money (such as stocks, bonds, RRSPs or GICs that are not locked in)
    • your household net worth is less than $11,100. Household net worth is the value of all assets owned by the members of your household, minus their debts and other financial liabilities

If you don’t meet the fee waiver requirements, but you don’t believe you can afford to pay court fees, you can make a request directly to the court to have your financial situation evaluated by a judge.

Fees that cannot be waived

There are some fees that cannot be waived, such as:

  • fees you pay to someone who is not part of the court (this includes lawyers, authorized court transcriptionists, official examiners, witnesses and mediators)
  • fees relating to criminal matters
  • disbursements paid to the sheriff or small claims court bailiff to enforce an order (unless the order was made under subsection 31(3) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006)
  • the federal Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings fee
  • fees for serving documents on another party
  • fees prescribed for bankruptcy proceedings under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act

A fee waiver does not apply to any costs a court has ordered you to pay to another party.

How to apply

Step 1: Get the correct form

Choose the form you need depending on your circumstances. Choose the form you need and download it below or get one at your local courthouse in person.

Step 2: Fill out the form

Fill out the form and gather any required documents. Make sure that all the personal information you provide is complete and current. If your contact information changes, it is your responsibility to update the court in writing.

If you already have a court file, include your file/claim number and the title of the proceeding or name of the case on the form.

You will have to provide proof of your gross annual household income. This includes proof of income for your spouse, if you have one.

If you cannot provide any of these documents, explain why and continue to fill out the rest of the form, where you will write down your household’s income information instead.

You do not need to provide proof of income or complete the table setting out your household income if your lawyer is being paid by a Legal Aid Certificate.

  • If you are filling out a Fee Waiver Request to Court (form FW-A 4) or a Fee Waiver Request to Court by a Litigation Guardian for a Person Under Disability or a Person Representing a Special Party (FW-A 7) because you do not meet the requirements, you must:
    • fill out Exhibit B, where you will list the members of your household and their estimated income amounts, expenses and assets and attach a recent financial document (for example, a tax return, pay stubs, T-4 slips or benefit statements) or receipt for each piece of information
    • write down any other information about your financial situation that you would like to give the court that wasn’t included in your request so far in question 5 of Exhibit A
    • With Exhibit C, provide one of the following:
      • the first document you filed or will file in your case, which sets out your position in the case (for example, statement of claim or application, statement of defence or answer)
      • a copy of the order you wish to enforce or continue enforcing

Court staff will review your request first. If they determine that you do not meet the requirements, your request will be presented to a judge for review.

Step 3: Swear or affirm your form

Once you complete your fee waiver request form, you must swear or affirm that the information you provided is accurate and true to the best of your knowledge.

You can get your form sworn or affirmed for free at the court or enforcement office.

You can also have your form sworn or affirmed by a lawyer, paralegal, notary public or someone else who is authorized to commission documents called a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits. They may charge a fee for their service.

While your lawyer can commission your affidavit, you still have to be the one to swear or affirm that the information provided is true. Your lawyer cannot do this on your behalf. It is a criminal offence to knowingly swear or affirm a false affidavit.

Step 4: Submit your request

You can submit your request either:

You can submit the form on its own or along with any court document that you wish to file. Your lawyer or representative can also submit the form for you.

Submit online

You can submit a request for fee waiver and supporting documents by using the online submissions portals:

You will get a response by email.

Submit by mail

Send the form and supporting documents by mail to the court or enforcement office where you will be paying a fee related to your court case or enforcement of order.

You will get a response in the mail.

Submit in person

Bring the form and supporting documents to the court or enforcement office where you would pay a fee related to your court case or enforcement of order.

You will find out immediately if you qualify for the fee waiver.

When a fee waiver certificate may be revoked

Your fee waiver certificate can be revoked (cancelled or invalidated) by a judge if they think that your actions in your case or proceeding are frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of the court’s process.

A judge can also make an order requiring you to get permission from the court before asking for another fee waiver. You will have a chance to submit a statement or argument to a judge before they revoke your fee waiver.

Court interpretation service fees

A court interpreter can help you understand what is being said in court when you do not speak English or French. You have the right to use a court interpreter if you or a witness are deaf or do not understand the language of the proceeding.

If you have a fee waiver, you can request the help of a court interpreter for free. You can ask for a court interpreter for yourself or a witness. Court interpretation is available in any language in civil, family and small claims court matters.

To ask for a court interpreter when you have a fee waiver:

  1. Fill out the Request For Court Interpreter by an Individual who has been Given Fee Waiver (FW-A 5) form.
  2. Submit the form online, in person or by mail to the court office where you filed your fee waiver. Submit the form as soon as you find out the date and time of the court appearance when the interpreter will be required.

You will not receive a refund for private court interpreter services that you have paid for.