When the Copyright Office registers a work it assigns an effective date of registration to the certificate of registration. The effective date of registration is the day that the Office receives in proper form all required elements—an acceptable application, an acceptable deposit, and a nonrefundable filing fee. The date is not set until all the required elements are in the Office’s possession. If the Office receives incomplete materials, an unacceptable deposit, or an insufficient fee, the effective date of registration will be set on the date that the Office receives all the required materials in acceptable form. The date is not based on how long it takes the Office to examine the materials or mail the certificate of registration.
You do not have to receive your certificate of registration before you publish or produce your work. Nor do you need permission from the Copyright Office to place a copyright notice on your work. But the Copyright Office must approve or refuse your application before you can file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, except in cases involving a non-U.S. work. You may seek statutory damages and attorneys’ fees in an infringement action provided that the infringement began after the effective date of registration. The law, however, provides a grace period of three months after publication during which full remedies can be recovered for any infringement begun during the three months after publication if registration is made before this period ends.