General and form-related guidelines for 5500 electronic filing

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Click the following links for miscellaneous guidelines and information about Department of Labor (DOL) limitations to the number of characters that can be entered in certain fields. Follow these guidelines to create DOL-acceptable electronic files. A more complete list of these guidelines can be found in Publication EFAST2 Guide for Filers & Service Providers.

Note: Further information is also available at the DOL website at

  • Alpha characters consist of the upper-case letters A through Z. No other characters are allowed in alpha-only fields. Few fields are alpha-only fields.
  • Numeric characters consist of the numbers 0 through 9. These characters are used in all of the numeric information fields.
  • Alphanumeric characters consist of the upper-case letters A through Z and numbers 0 through 9. These characters are allowed in most text fields.
  • Special characters generally include ampersand (&), hyphen (-), percent (%), and backslash (\), among others. The DOL may or may not allow certain special characters.

Note: UltraTax CS strips invalid characters from fields and converts all lower-case characters to upper-case alpha characters in the electronic file.

For information about editing collations, see Customizing the print collation for returns filed electronically.

The plan name can contain only alpha characters (A-Z), numeric characters (0-9), and the following special characters: ampersand (&), comma (,), percent sign (%), period (.), forward slash (/), backslash (\), apostrophe ('), at sign (@), parentheses [()], and hyphen (-).

The Department of Labor (DOL) allows only specific binary attachments (as a PDF file) to be attached to the electronic file through the EFAST2 system. These attachments cannot be password protected. For information about how to include binary attachments with the electronic file in UltraTax/5500, see Attaching Portable Document Format (PDF) documents to the electronic file.

Note: Attached text is not recognized in the electronic return.

Related topic: Entering data for 5500 electronic returns overview

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