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Paperless makes use of the Django REST Framework standard API interface. It provides a browsable API for most of its endpoints, which you can inspect at http://<paperless-host>:<port>/api/. This also documents most of the available filters and ordering fields.

The API provides 7 main endpoints:

  • /api/documents/: Full CRUD support, except POSTing new documents. See below.
  • /api/correspondents/: Full CRUD support.
  • /api/document_types/: Full CRUD support.
  • /api/logs/: Read-Only.
  • /api/tags/: Full CRUD support.
  • /api/tasks/: Read-only.
  • /api/mail_accounts/: Full CRUD support.
  • /api/mail_rules/: Full CRUD support.
  • /api/users/: Full CRUD support.
  • /api/groups/: Full CRUD support.

All of these endpoints except for the logging endpoint allow you to fetch (and edit and delete where appropriate) individual objects by appending their primary key to the path, e.g. /api/documents/454/.

The objects served by the document endpoint contain the following fields:

  • id: ID of the document. Read-only.
  • title: Title of the document.
  • content: Plain text content of the document.
  • tags: List of IDs of tags assigned to this document, or empty list.
  • document_type: Document type of this document, or null.
  • correspondent: Correspondent of this document or null.
  • created: The date time at which this document was created.
  • created_date: The date (YYYY-MM-DD) at which this document was created. Optional. If also passed with created, this is ignored.
  • modified: The date at which this document was last edited in paperless. Read-only.
  • added: The date at which this document was added to paperless. Read-only.
  • archive_serial_number: The identifier of this document in a physical document archive.
  • original_file_name: Verbose filename of the original document. Read-only.
  • archived_file_name: Verbose filename of the archived document. Read-only. Null if no archived document is available.
  • set_permissions: Allows setting document permissions. Optional, write-only. See below.

Downloading documents

In addition to that, the document endpoint offers these additional actions on individual documents:

  • /api/documents/<pk>/download/: Download the document.
  • /api/documents/<pk>/preview/: Display the document inline, without downloading it.
  • /api/documents/<pk>/thumb/: Download the PNG thumbnail of a document.

Paperless generates archived PDF/A documents from consumed files and stores both the original files as well as the archived files. By default, the endpoints for previews and downloads serve the archived file, if it is available. Otherwise, the original file is served. Some document cannot be archived.

The endpoints correctly serve the response header fields Content-Disposition and Content-Type to indicate the filename for download and the type of content of the document.

In order to download or preview the original document when an archived document is available, supply the query parameter original=true.


Paperless used to provide these functionality at /fetch/<pk>/preview, /fetch/<pk>/thumb and /fetch/<pk>/doc. Redirects to the new URLs are in place. However, if you use these old URLs to access documents, you should update your app or script to use the new URLs.

Getting document metadata

The api also has an endpoint to retrieve read-only metadata about specific documents. this information is not served along with the document objects, since it requires reading files and would therefore slow down document lists considerably.

Access the metadata of a document with an ID id at /api/documents/<id>/metadata/.

The endpoint reports the following data:

  • original_checksum: MD5 checksum of the original document.
  • original_size: Size of the original document, in bytes.
  • original_mime_type: Mime type of the original document.
  • media_filename: Current filename of the document, under which it is stored inside the media directory.
  • has_archive_version: True, if this document is archived, false otherwise.
  • original_metadata: A list of metadata associated with the original document. See below.
  • archive_checksum: MD5 checksum of the archived document, or null.
  • archive_size: Size of the archived document in bytes, or null.
  • archive_metadata: Metadata associated with the archived document, or null. See below.

File metadata is reported as a list of objects in the following form:

    "namespace": "",
    "prefix": "pdf",
    "key": "Producer",
    "value": "SparklePDF, Fancy edition"

namespace and prefix can be null. The actual metadata reported depends on the file type and the metadata available in that specific document. Paperless only reports PDF metadata at this point.


The REST api provides three different forms of authentication.

  1. Basic authentication

    Authorize by providing a HTTP header in the form

    Authorization: Basic <credentials>

    where credentials is a base64-encoded string of <username>:<password>

  2. Session authentication

    When you're logged into paperless in your browser, you're automatically logged into the API as well and don't need to provide any authorization headers.

  3. Token authentication

    Paperless also offers an endpoint to acquire authentication tokens.

    POST a username and password as a form or json string to /api/token/ and paperless will respond with a token, if the login data is correct. This token can be used to authenticate other requests with the following HTTP header:

    Authorization: Token <token>

    Tokens can be managed and revoked in the paperless admin.

Searching for documents

Full text searching is available on the /api/documents/ endpoint. Two specific query parameters cause the API to return full text search results:

  • /api/documents/?query=your%20search%20query: Search for a document using a full text query. For details on the syntax, see Basic Usage - Searching.
  • /api/documents/?more_like=1234: Search for documents similar to the document with id 1234.

Pagination works exactly the same as it does for normal requests on this endpoint.

Certain limitations apply to full text queries:

  • Results are always sorted by search score. The results matching the query best will show up first.
  • Only a small subset of filtering parameters are supported.

Furthermore, each returned document has an additional __search_hit__ attribute with various information about the search results:

    "count": 31,
    "next": "http://localhost:8000/api/documents/?page=2&query=test",
    "previous": null,
    "results": [


            "id": 123,
            "title": "title",
            "content": "content",


            "__search_hit__": {
                "score": 0.343,
                "highlights": "text <span class="match">Test</span> text",
                "rank": 23


  • score is an indication how well this document matches the query relative to the other search results.
  • highlights is an excerpt from the document content and highlights the search terms with <span> tags as shown above.
  • rank is the index of the search results. The first result will have rank 0.


Get auto completions for a partial search term.

Query parameters:

  • term: The incomplete term.
  • limit: Amount of results. Defaults to 10.

Results returned by the endpoint are ordered by importance of the term in the document index. The first result is the term that has the highest Tf/Idf score in the index.

["term1", "term3", "term6", "term4"]

POSTing documents

The API provides a special endpoint for file uploads:


POST a multipart form to this endpoint, where the form field document contains the document that you want to upload to paperless. The filename is sanitized and then used to store the document in a temporary directory, and the consumer will be instructed to consume the document from there.

The endpoint supports the following optional form fields:

  • title: Specify a title that the consumer should use for the document.
  • created: Specify a DateTime where the document was created (e.g. "2016-04-19" or "2016-04-19 06:15:00+02:00").
  • correspondent: Specify the ID of a correspondent that the consumer should use for the document.
  • document_type: Similar to correspondent.
  • tags: Similar to correspondent. Specify this multiple times to have multiple tags added to the document.
  • archive_serial_number: An optional archive serial number to set.

The endpoint will immediately return HTTP 200 if the document consumption process was started successfully, with the UUID of the consumption task as the data. No additional status information about the consumption process itself is available immediately, since that happens in a different process. However, querying the tasks endpoint with the returned UUID e.g. /api/tasks/?task_id={uuid} will provide information on the state of the consumption including the ID of a created document if consumption succeeded.


All objects (documents, tags, etc.) allow setting object-level permissions with an optional set_permissions parameter which is of the form:

  "owner": user_id,
  "view": {
      "users": [...],
      "groups": [...],
  "change": {
      "users": [...],
      "groups": [...],

If this paramter is supplied the objects permissions will be overwritten, assuming the authenticated user has permission to do so (the user must be the object owner or a superuser).

API Versioning

The REST API is versioned since Paperless-ngx 1.3.0.

  • Versioning ensures that changes to the API don't break older clients.
  • Clients specify the specific version of the API they wish to use with every request and Paperless will handle the request using the specified API version.
  • Even if the underlying data model changes, older API versions will always serve compatible data.
  • If no version is specified, Paperless will serve version 1 to ensure compatibility with older clients that do not request a specific API version.

API versions are specified by submitting an additional HTTP Accept header with every request:

Accept: application/json; version=6

If an invalid version is specified, Paperless 1.3.0 will respond with "406 Not Acceptable" and an error message in the body. Earlier versions of Paperless will serve API version 1 regardless of whether a version is specified via the Accept header.

If a client wishes to verify whether it is compatible with any given server, the following procedure should be performed:

  1. Perform an authenticated request against any API endpoint. If the server is on version 1.3.0 or newer, the server will add two custom headers to the response:

    X-Api-Version: 2
    X-Version: 1.3.0
  2. Determine whether the client is compatible with this server based on the presence/absence of these headers and their values if present.

API Changelog

Version 1

Initial API version.

Version 2

  • Added field Tag.color. This read/write string field contains a hex color such as #a6cee3.
  • Added read-only field Tag.text_color. This field contains the text color to use for a specific tag, which is either black or white depending on the brightness of Tag.color.
  • Removed field Tag.colour.