This article will provide guidance on Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure. Disclaimer: Due to the law’s rapidly changing nature, there will be times when the material on this site will not be current. It is provided for general information and is not intended as legal advice. It should not be considered comprehensive or exhaustive and is not a substitute for advice from your attorney. We make no express or implied warranty as to the material’s accuracy, reliability, completeness, timeliness, or appropriateness for a particular purpose, including applicability to your jurisdiction or circumstances. We assume no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages resulting from your reliance on this material; you do so at your own risk. Seek the advice of an attorney. Comments, corrections, or suggestions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The information listed below may have been amended. For updated process serving legislation, please visit the Georgia State Legislature website.
Georgia Process Service Licensing Requirements Process shall be served by the sheriff of the county where the action is brought or where the defendant is found, or by his deputy, or by the marshal or sheriff of the court, or by his deputy, or by any citizen of the United States specially appointed by the court for that purpose or by someone who is not a party and is not younger than 18 years of age and has been appointed as a permanent process server by the court in which the action is brought.
Title 9. Civil Practice
Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure 9-10-94. Service.
A person subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the state under Code Section 9-10-91, or his executor or administrator, may be served with a summons outside the state in the same manner as service is made within the state by any person authorized to do service by the laws of the state, territory, possession, or country in which service is made or by any duly qualified attorney, solicitor, barrister, or the equivalent in such jurisdiction. (Ga. L. 1966, p. 343, § 3.)
Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure 9-11-4. Process.
Summons – Issuance.
Upon filing the complaint, the clerk shall issue a summons and deliver it for service. Upon request of the plaintiff, separate or additional summons shall issue against any defendants.
Summons – Form.
The clerk shall sign the summons; contain the name of the court and county and the names of the parties; be directed to the defendant; state the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney, if any, otherwise the plaintiff’s address; and state the time within which this chapter requires the defendant to appear and file appropriate defensive pleadings with the clerk of the court, and shall notify the defendant that in case he fails to do so judgment by default will be rendered against him for the relief demanded in the complaint.
Summons – By whom served.
The process shall be served by the sheriff of the county where the action is brought or where the defendant is found, or by his deputy, or by the marshal or sheriff of the court, or by his deputy, or by any citizen of the United States specially appointed by the court for that purpose or by someone who is not a party and is not younger than 18 years of age and has been appointed as a permanent process server by the court in which the action is brought. Where the service of process is made outside of the United States, after an order of publication, it may be served either by any citizen of the United States or by any resident of the country, territory, colony, or province who the court specially appoints for that purpose. When service is to be made within this state, the person doing such service shall make the service within five (5) days from receiving the summons and complaint. Still, failure to do service within the five days will not invalidate a later service.
Summons – Personal service.
The summons and complaint shall be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the clerk of the court with such copies as are necessary. Service shall be made by delivering a copy of the summons attached to a copy of the complaint as follows:
1. If the action is against a corporation incorporated or domesticated under the laws of this state or a foreign corporation authorized to transact business in this state, to the president or other officer of the corporation, secretary, cashier, managing agent, or another agent thereof, provided that when for any reason service cannot be had in such manner, the Secretary of State shall be an agent of such corporation upon whom any process, notice, or demand may be served. Service on the Secretary of State of any such process, notice, or demand shall be made by delivering to and leaving with him or with any other person or persons designated by the Secretary of State to receive such service a copy of the such process, notice, or demand, along with a copy of the affidavit to be submitted to the court under this Code section. The plaintiff or his attorney shall certify in writing to the Secretary of State that he has forwarded by registered mail such process, service, or demand to the last registered office or agent listed on the records of the Secretary of State, that service cannot be effected at such office, and that it, therefore, appears that the corporation has failed either to maintain a registered office or appoint a registered agent in this state. Further, if it shall appear from such certification that there is a last known address of a known officer of the corporation outside the state, the plaintiff shall, in addition to and after such service upon the Secretary of State, mail or cause to be mailed to the known officer at the address by registered or certified mail a copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint. Any such service by certification to the Secretary of State shall be answerable not more than 30 days from the date the Secretary of State receives such certification;
2. If the action is against a foreign corporation or a nonresident individual, partnership, joint-stock company, or association, doing business and having a managing or other agent, cashier, or secretary within this state, to such agent, cashier, or secretary or an agent designated for service of process;
3. If against a minor, to the minor, personally, and also to his father or his mother or his guardian or his duly appointed guardian ad litem (unless the minor is married, in which case service shall not be made on the minor’s father or his mother or his guardian);
4. If against a person residing within this state who has been judicially declared to be of unsound mind or incapable of conducting his affairs and for whom a guardian has been appointed, to the person and also to his guardian and, if there is no guardian appointed, then to his duly appointed guardian ad litem;
5. If against a county, municipality, city, or town, to the chairman of the board of commissioners, president of the council of trustees, mayor or city manager of the city to an agent authorized by appointment to receive service of process. If against any other public body or organization subject to an action, to the chief executive officer or clerk thereof;
6. If the principal sum involved is less than $200.00 and if reasonable efforts have been made to obtain personal service by attempting to find some person residing at the most notorious place of abode of the defendant, then by securely attaching the service copy of the complaint in a conspicuously marked and waterproof packet to the upper part of the door of the abode and on the same day mailing by certified or registered mail an additional copy to the defendant at his last known address, if any, and making an entry of this action on the return of service; or
7. In all other cases, to the defendant personally, or by leaving copies thereof at his dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.
Summons – Another service.
Service by Publication.
General. When the person on whom service is to be made resides outside the state, or has departed from the state, or cannot, after due diligence, be found within the state, or conceals himself to avoid the service of the summons, and the fact shall appear, by affidavit, to the satisfaction of the judge or clerk of the court, and it shall appear, either by affidavit or by a verified complaint on file, that a claim exists against the defendant in respect to whom the service is to be made, and that he is a necessary or proper party to the action, the judge or clerk may grant an order that the service be made by the publication of summons, provided that when the affidavit is based on the fact that the party on whom service is to be made resides outside the state, and the present address of the party is unknown, it shall be a sufficient showing of such fact if the affiant shall state generally in the affidavit that at a previous time such person resided outside this state in a certain place (naming the place and stating the latest date known to affiant when the party so resided there); that such place is the last place in which the party resided to the knowledge of affiant; that the party no longer resides at the place; that affiant does not know the present place of residence of the e clerk and serve upon the plaintiff’s attorney an answer within 60 days of the date of the order for service by publication and shall bear teste in the name of the judge and shall be signed by the clerk of the court. The residence or abiding place of the absent or nonresident party is known; the party obtaining the order shall advise the clerk. It shall be the duty of the clerk, within 15 days after the filing of the order for service by publication, to enclose, direct, stamp, and mail a copy of the notice, together with a copy of the order for service by publication and complaint, if any, to the party named in the order at his last known address, if any, and make an entry of this action on the complaint or other pleadings filed in the case. The copy of the notice to be mailed to the nonresident shall duplicate the one published in the newspaper but need not necessarily be a copy of the newspaper itself. When service by publication is ordered, personal service of a copy of the summons, complaint, and order of publication outside the state instead of publication shall be equivalent to serving notice by publication and mailing when proved to the judge’s satisfaction or otherwise. The defendant shall have 30 days from the date of such personal service outside the state to file defensive pleadings.
Personal service outside the state.
Personal service outside the state upon a natural person may be made:
•in any action where the person served is a resident of this state, and
•in any action affecting specific real property or status or in any other proceeding in rem without regard to the residence of the person served. When such facts shall appear, by affidavit, to the satisfaction of the court, and it shall appear, either by affidavit or by a verified complaint on file, that a claim is asserted against the person in respect to whom the service is to be made, and that he is a necessary or proper party to the action, the court may grant an order that the service is made by personal service outside the state. Such service shall be made by delivering a copy of the process together with a copy of the complaint in person to the persons served.
Territorial limits of effective service.
All processes may be served anywhere within the state’s territorial limits and, when a statute so provides, beyond the territorial limits of the state.
The person serving the process shall promptly make proof of service to the court and, in any event, within the time during which the person served must respond to the process. Proof of service shall be as follows:
•If served by a sheriff or marshal, or his deputy, the affidavit or certificate of the sheriff, marshal, or deputy;
•If by any other proper person, his affidavit thereof;
•In case of publication, the certificate of the clerk of court certifying the publication and mailing; or
•The written admission or acknowledgment of service by the defendant. In case of service otherwise, then by publication, the certificate or affidavit shall state the date, place, and manner of service. Failure to make proof of service shall not affect the validity of the service.
At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended unless it appears that material prejudice would result in the party’s substantial rights against whom the process was issued.
The service methods provided in this Code section are cumulative and may be utilized with, after, or independently of other methods of service. Whenever a statute provides another service method, service may be made under the circumstances and in the manner prescribed by the statute or under any other methods prescribed in this Code section. The provisions for service by publication provided in this Code section shall apply in any action or proceeding in which service by publication may be authorized by law; and, whereby law special provision is made for service by publication, the procedure for such service by publication provided in this Code section may be utilized in lieu thereof. In all cases or special proceedings where the requirements or procedure for service, or both, are not prescribed by law, and in any situation where the provisions, therefore, are not clear or certain, the court may prescribe service according to the exigencies of each case, consistent with the Constitution.
Service in probate courts and special statutory proceedings.
The methods of service provided in this Code section may be used as alternative methods of service in proceedings in the probate courts and any other special statutory proceedings and may be used with, after, or independently of the method of service specifically provided for in any such proceeding; and, in any such proceeding, service shall be sufficient when made by the statutes relating particularly to the proceeding or by this Code section. (Ga. L. 1966, p. 609, § 4; Ga. L. 1967, p. 226, §§ 1-3, 51; Ga. L. 1968, p. 1036, § 1; Ga. L. 1968, p. 1104, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1969, p. 487, § 1; Ga. L. 1972, p. 689, §§ 1-3; Ga. L. 1980, p. 1124, § 1; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 9; Ga. L. 1984, p. 22, § 9; Ga. L. 1989, p. 364, § 1; Ga. L. 1991, p. 626, § 1; Ga. L. 1993, p. 91, § 9.)
Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure 24-10-23. Service of subpoenas.
A subpoena may be served by any sheriff, deputy, or any other person not less than 18 years of age. Proof may be shown by return or certificate endorsed on a copy of the subpoena. Subpoenas may also be served by registered or certified mail, and the return receipt shall constitute prima-facie proof of service. Service upon a party may be made by serving his counsel of record. (Ga. L. 1966, p. 343, § 3.)(Laws 1792, Cobb’s 1851 Digest, p. 353; Laws 1799, Cobb’s 1851 Digest, p. 276; Code 1863, § 3764; Code 1868, § 3788; Ga. L. 1873, p. 25, § 1; Code 1873, § 3841; Code 1882, § 3841; Civil Code 1895, § 5260; Civil Code 1910, § 5849; Code 1933, § 38-1501; Ga. L. 1966, p. 502, § 1.)
The acceptance by any nonresident of this state
whether a person, firm, or corporation, of the rights and privileges conferred by the laws now or hereafter enforced in this state permitting the operation of motor vehicles, as evidenced by the operation of a motor vehicle by any such nonresident anywhere within the territorial limits of this state, shall be deemed equivalent to the appointment by such nonresident of the Secretary of State of Georgia, or his successor in office, to be his true and lawful attorney in fact upon whom may be served all summonses or other lawful processes in any action or proceeding against any such nonresident growing out of any accident or collision in which any such nonresident may be involved by reason of the operation by him, for him, or under his control or direction, express or implied, of a motor vehicle anywhere within the territorial limits of the State of Georgia, and said acceptance or operation shall be a signification of his agreement that any such process against him shall be of the same legal force and validity as if served upon him personally.
If such a nonresident motorist is a minor, then the minor and
his parents or guardians shall be deemed to have assented to the appointment by such nonresident minor and his parents or guardians of the Secretary of State of Georgia, or his successor in office, to be the true and lawful attorney in fact for such minor and his parents or guardians, upon whom may be served any summons or other lawful process in any action or proceeding against such nonresident minor, his parents, or guardians growing out of any accident or collision in which any such nonresident minor may be involved by reason of the operation by him, for him, or under his control or direction, express or implied, of a motor vehicle anywhere within the territorial limits of the State of Georgia, and such acceptance or operation shall be a signification of his agreement or an agreement for him by his parents or guardians that any such process against him or them shall be of the same legal force and validity as if served upon him or them personally; and in this respect, the court wherein such action shall have been filed shall be authorized to appoint, upon motion duly made, a guardian ad litem for such minor for the purposes of defending such suit. (Ga. L. 1937, p. 732, § 1; Ga. L. 1964, p. 299, § 1; Ga. L. 1967, p. 800, § 1.)
Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure 40-12-2. How service on nonresidents made.
Service of process upon a nonresident under Code Section 40-12-1 shall be made by serving a copy of the complaint or other pleading with summons attached thereto on the Secretary of State, his duly authorized agent, or his successor in office, along with a copy of the affidavit to be submitted to the court under this Code section. Such service shall be sufficient service upon any such nonresident, provided that notice of such service and a copy of the complaint and process are forthwith sent by registered or certified mail by the plaintiff to the defendant if his address is known. The defendant’s return receipt and the plaintiff’s affidavit of compliance with this Code section are appended to the summons or other process and filed with the summons, complaint, and other papers in the court the action is pending. The Secretary of State shall charge and collect a fee set out in Code Section 45-13-26 for service of process on him under this Code section. (Ga. L. 1937, p. 732, Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure § 2; Ga. L. 1959, p. 113, Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure § 1; Ga. L. 1965, p. 231, Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure § 1; Ga. L. 1983, p. 1474, Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure § 2; Ga. L. 1984, p. 22, Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure § 40; Ga. L. 1989, p. 364, § 2.)
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