Reminder: NIH Applications Must Be Complete and Compliant With NIH Policy and Application Instructions At Time Of Submission

Notice Number: NOT-OD-17-105

Key Dates
Release Date: September 12, 2017  

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


The purpose of this notice is to remind applicants, both sponsored programs officials as well as investigators, that to be fair to all concerned the NIH will consistently apply standards for application completeness and for compliance with all submission requirements and NIH policies.  This longstanding NIH policy is outlined in NIH Grants Policy Statement 2.3.2, Eligibility along with 2.4.4, Disposition of Applications. NIHs implementation of this requirement is based out of 45 CFR Part 75.203(c3) and (c5) and 45 CFR Part 75.204.


NIH may withdraw any application identified during the receipt, referral, and review process that is incomplete or noncompliant with instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and relevant NIH Guide Notices. 

  • NIH applications must be complete, and compliant with all submission requirements and NIH policies, at the time of submission. 
  • NIH strongly discourages the practice of using placeholder attachments for required elements in an application.  While it may allow an application to successfully pass eRA system-enforced validations, applications that include such attachments are incomplete and will be withdrawn.
  • Applicants are expected to examine their applications for problems, errors, omissions, and oversights and must make any necessary or desired changes before the application submission deadline.
    • The application submission deadline is 5 PM local (applicant organization) time on the application due date. 
    • Applicants are encouraged to submit two or more days early to allow time for application viewing and corrections before the application submission deadline.
    • Corrective applications submitted after the application submission deadline are late and will overwrite any previous on-time submission for that application and permanently remove the on-time submission from consideration.
    • Applications submitted after the application submission deadline will be considered late, and only accepted under the limited circumstances described in the NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Late Policy
  • Post-submission materials to complete an application or to correct problems, errors, oversights, and omissions discovered after submission of the application will not be accepted per the NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Post-Submission Materials Policy

When a recipient is in doubt about this longstanding grants policy, contact Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration or the Division of Receipt and Referral as listed below.

If an application is withdrawn because it is incomplete or does not comply with the application preparation and submission instructions, a letter will be placed in the eRA Commons Status page for that application.  The PD/PI and the AOR from the applicant organization will be notified by eRA Commons via e-mail to access their account and view the explanatory letter.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration (OPERA)
Office of Extramural Research (OER)
Division of Grants Policy
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-435-0949

Division of Receipt and Referral
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
National Institutes of Health
Telephone:  301-435-0715