E Filing Provident Fund Returns through a ECR (.txt File)

Monthly PF Returns

· Electronic Challan cum Return, also called as ECR is an electronic monthly return to be filed by employers through the Employer EPF portal.

· The return is to contain member wise details of salaries (or wages) and contributions.

· It should also include basic details of new and existing members

· Meaning, relevant information relating to members who have joined or have left service in the wage period for which the return is uploaded.

· The approval of uploaded ECR will result in the generation of a Challan.

· The employer has to remit the dues through online payment using the above Challan.

· This relieves the employer from filing hard copies of returns and also various other monthly and annual returns under The Provident Fund scheme.

In order to generate monthly EPF challans, employers need to upload text files in the EPF portal. The unified PF portal accepts only text files. So, the employers have to convert PF excel file formats into text files first and then upload them into PF portal.

Errors while uploading ECR file in Unified Portal of EPF

ECR Validation Failed

· This occurs while uploading ECR file in the PF portal.

· When there are errors in the ECR text file being uploaded, the process generally fails. (Further, in the article, we have explained the process to generate one correctly.)

  • The failed ECRs are available in Draft ECRs.

· Employers can view errors by downloading the error file.

· Based on the errors we need to correct the ECR text file and upload PF ECR file again onto the unified Portal.

ECR Verification Failed

· This error generally occurs after uploading of ECR file in EPF portal.

  • Most often, this occurs due to website server problem.

· Click on the ‘Verify’ button beside your ECR file a couple of times

· If the error still appears, then reject the ECR and upload a new ECR file

  • This should generally solve the issue.

Steps to create a PF text file

The conversion of PF excel file into text file broadly includes two steps. At first, we need to convert the Excel file into CSV format, and then the CSV file is to be saved in Text format.

1. Fill in all the relevant details in the ECR file excel format

2. Save the file under CSV format. [For this, go to ‘Save as’ > ‘Save as’ type > ‘CSV(Comma Delimited)’ ]

3. Once the file is saved as CSV, go to the destination folder and open it with Notepad.

4. Now delete headings from the Notepad & one blank space from the end of the file.

5. ECR File consists of 11 Fields.

6. Here, all the commas (,) have to change to (#~#).

7. Now press ‘Ctrl+H’ in Notepad and place a comma(,) in ‘Find what’ field & hash-tilde-hash(#~#) in ‘Replace with’ field, and click on ‘Replace all’.

8. If all commas(,) have changed into hash-tilde-hash(#~#), save the file as a text file.

Important pointers regarding the new ECR portal

· It is possible to pay the arrears along with the monthly ECR. However, it is to be done through separate files and the file formats for both differ.

· If the payment is not done already uploaded ECR will not lapse. You can make payment even after uploading the same through the online payment link. However, for the delay beyond the due date, applicable rules on Damages and Interest will apply.