This article will provide guidance on How To Domesticate a Foreign Subpoena in Pennsylvania.  Many states, including Pennsylvania, have passed legislation to standardize interstate discovery and depositions. The UIDDA, promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 2007, creates a quick and cheap process for out-of-state lawyers to serve subpoenas in Pennsylvania for discovery to be utilized in an action proceeding in another state. Requests for depositions and documents from Pennsylvania witnesses are covered under the UIDDA. The act's definition of a subpoena is modeled after the wording of Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

A ‘subpoena’ is ‘any document, however, denominated, issued under the authority of a court of record requiring a person to [A.] appear and give testimony at a deposition, hearing, or trial; [B.] produce and permit inspection and copying of designated books, documents, records, electronically stored information, or tangible things in the possession, custody, or control of the person; or [C.]  permit inspection of premises under the contempt

The Uniform Law Comment clarifies that a subpoena to examine a person is not included in the definition of ‘subpoena’ and that state discovery regulations govern medical inspections independently. 

Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA)-Pennsylvania

There is a notice at the beginning of the UIDDA that emphasizes how each state has unique UIDDA and Pennsylvania regulations for depositing in another country. Some states only allow international depositions to be used in court cases, while others do not place such restrictions on their usage. Some jurisdictions allow subpoenas to include testimony and papers or physical items, whereas others only allow for the production of documents. Considering all these factors, conducting discovery with a party in another state may be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. In addition, such discovery is becoming more typical in modern litigation.

The parties are not compelled to submit the document before a judge in discovery court or any comparable hearing, an essential step toward reducing judicial burden. The UIDDA provides more guidance on discovery rules, perhaps the most important advantage. All discoveries conducted under the UIDDA must follow the local court's guidelines. The statute is meant to make acquiring discovery from non-party witnesses easier. Still, it also acknowledges that the discovery state is interested in shielding its inhabitants from excessive discovery demands.


The UIDDA method is intended to be simple and easy, making achieving UIDDA and Pennsylvania's aims easier. The prothonotary in the county in Pennsylvania where the witness lives are employed or habitually transacts business in person and receives a subpoena from an out-of-state counsel representing the party seeking the witness's testimony. Importantly, requesting a subpoena from the prothonotary under the UIDDA does not count as an appearance in a Pennsylvania court. Thus, the out-of-state attorney does not have to worry about obtaining pro hac vice entrance in order to comply with UIDDA and Pennsylvania service.

The prothonotary will issue a subpoena for UIDDA and Pennsylvania services. The language of the foreign subpoena will be incorporated into the Pennsylvania subpoena, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all counsel of record in the proceeding to which the subpoena relates, as well as those of any party not represented by counsel, will be included in or attached to the Pennsylvania subpoena. 

Any subpoena issued under the UIDDA will have the same force and effect as a subpoena issued to a nonparty for litigation pending in Pennsylvania, including but not limited to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and any UIDDA and Pennsylvania statutes relating to service and compliance with subpoenas. 

Applications for protective orders and requests to enforce, quash, or alter subpoenas issued under the UIDDA must be filed in the Pennsylvania county where the subpoena was served on the Pennsylvania citizen, in accordance with applicable UIDDA and Pennsylvania rules and legislation. A UIDDA and Pennsylvania request for enforcement, modification, or protection order in Pennsylvania would constitute an appearance in the Pennsylvania courts. It would therefore need admission, either pro hac vice or by a Pennsylvania lawyer, even if this is not explicitly stated in the UIDDA.


Pennsylvania and thirty-one other jurisdictions have passed legislation making commissions and letters rogatory for out-of-state third-party discovery obsolete. More than thirty states have adopted this UIDDA and Pennsylvania law, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Subpoenas issued in other states may be ‘domesticated’ in Pennsylvania by submitting a civil cover sheet, a praecipe to domesticate, the foreign subpoena, and a listing of counsel in the foreign action. Some counties in Pennsylvania will send the individual a blank subpoena they can fill out later. In contrast, others will make them fill it out at the time of filing in order to comply with UIDDA and Pennsylvania service. However, once the docket is open, at least one county can allow them to use an electronic subpoena system, which is the most convenient option. 

The individual must provide twenty-one days' notice to the other parties in the action of their intention to serve the UIDDA and Pennsylvania document subpoena. Importantly, subpoenaed individuals need not be warned to comply with UIDDA and Pennsylvania rules. If the other parties have made no challenges to the subpoena, then UIDDA and Pennsylvania service may be served after the twenty-one days have expired. Therefore, there is a substantial wait between when they requested the subpoena and when they may eventually obtain documents from the subpoena target after the individual has included in this twenty-one-day notice period, plus the time for actual serving, plus a fair length of time for the subpoena target to comply. 

Since the UIDDA does away with the necessity for a commission, a petition for issuing letters rogatory, a miscellaneous action, or local counsel to acquire a foreign subpoena, it is quick, easy, and inexpensive to receive one.


An out-of-state attorney or party may submit a foreign subpoena to an attorney licensed to practice law in the state as per the UIDDA and Pennsylvania statutes, or to the Clerk of the Superior Court or designee, in conjunction with a New Jersey subpoena in the name of the Clerk of the Superior Court when the deposition of a person is to be taken in Pennsylvania pursuant to the laws of a foreign state for use in connection with proceedings there.  As the law makes clear, a request for a foreign subpoena is not considered an appearance in Pennsylvania courts. The subpoena must include the name of the Pennsylvania court issuing it, the caption and case number of the foreign case, the contact information of all counsel of record, and the terms and conditions used in the foreign subpoena. UIDDA and Pennsylvania statutes specify that the document must also contain or be accompanied by the contact information of the person to whom the subpoena is directed.

A party seeking a subpoena issued in Pennsylvania must first submit a foreign subpoena to a prothonotary in the jurisdiction where the witness lives, is employed, or frequently transacts business. When the prothonotary receives the foreign subpoena, they will issue a domestic subpoena to be served on the target of the foreign subpoena in order to comply with the requirements of UIDDA and Pennsylvania service.  The subpoena must include the names and contact information of all attorneys of record, as well as the language used in the international subpoena. A request for the issuing of a subpoena does not constitute an appearance in Pennsylvania courts, similar to the practice in New Jersey. 

States that have passed legislation in accordance with the UIDDA may impose extra UIDDA and Pennsylvania requirements not specifically included in the statute. A foreign subpoena issued must be presented to a prothonotary in the state or country where the witness lives, is employed or frequently transacts business in order to be valid. An application for a subpoena does not constitute attendance in a court of this Commonwealth. Suppose a prothonotary receives a subpoena from a foreign court. In that case, they must follow that court's UIDDA and Pennsylvania rules and issue a subpoena to the target of the international subpoena as soon as possible.

An application for leave to serve a subpoena for use outside the Commonwealth was formerly needed in Allegheny County under 42 Pa.C.S. 5326, the forerunner of the Act. To serve a subpoena in Allegheny County for use in a court outside of Pennsylvania, a local docket number and a Motion for Leave to Serve a Subpoena for Use in a Tribunal Outside of Pennsylvania were necessary. The Allegheny County rule requires ten (10) days' notice before presenting motions applied to this Motion. Because of the importance of the presentation, out-of-state attorneys were also forced to enlist the aid of local lawyers.

The Act was passed primarily to do away with the necessity for local counsel and streamline the procedure. In light of the above, the UIDDA and Pennsylvania statutes now specify that the asking party need only provide the international subpoena and a draft local subpoena to the Prothonotary, who will issue the local subpoena, which may then be served in line with local procedures.


Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act Adopted - 2013
Bill Number: SB 79 Sponsor Greenleaf
42 PA.CONS.STAT. ANN. § 5335
Subpoena For Attendance Click Here
Subpoena For Production of Documents Click Here


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1. Codified at 42 Pa. C.S. 5331-37

2. The Uniform Law Commission states that the UIDDA's goal is to make state processes better in four ways: (1) efficiency, (2) cost, (3) less court monitoring, and (4) explicit regulations governing discovery.

3. Naturally, a Pennsylvania resident who has not been issued a subpoena under the UIDDA may nonetheless voluntarily provide testimony or a statement or provide documents or other materials for use in a proceeding before a tribunal outside of Pennsylvania.

4. This includes Rules 4009.21 (subpoena upon non-party for production of documents and things; prior notice; objections), 4009.22 (service of subpoena), 4009.23 (certificate of compliance by non-party; notice of documents or things received), 4009.24 (notice of intent to serve subpoena); 4009.25 (certificate prerequisite to service of subpoena); and Rule 4009.26 (notice of documents or things received) (relating to certificate of compliance).

5. A quote from the Uniform Law Comment on Section 5335 reads as follows:

‘If you need a commission or letters rogatory to take a deposition in another country, you'll still need them even after this legislation goes into effect. However, the statute is repealed in the discovery states that previously required a commission or letter rogatory from a trial state in order to conduct a deposition in that state. The conference is hoping that by passing this legislation, states that still need commissions or letters rogatory would be motivated to change their laws.’

6. Pennsylvania's Uniform Interstate Deposition and Discovery Act (UIDDA) may be found in 42 Pa.C.S. 5331-37.

7. States like New Jersey have changed their procedures to make it more straightforward to receive a foreign subpoena, but other states still make you work harder to get one. It was formerly necessary to file a miscellaneous action in New Jersey to get a subpoena, but that changed as of September 1, 2016, when Court Rule 4:11-4(b) was revised to reflect its acceptance of the UIDDA. The procedure for obtaining an international subpoena is laid down in the rule.

8. According to Section 5335. 42 Pa.C.S. § 5335.

9. It's also worth noting that costs may vary across counties. In Cook County, Illinois, for instance, the filing price for a foreign subpoena is $368 (payable to the Cook County Clerk), yet in Kane County, there is no such cost. Even though the method has been simplified for a handful of states, an attorney would be wise to contact the Clerk/Prothonotary of the foreign County where the documents/individuals are situated to check the processes and any price schedule.

10. In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, subpoenas may be bought and issued without a formal request. Simply complete the local subpoena that is most likely already on hand in the office and deliver it to the witness along with a copy of the overseas subpoena. However, this is not the case; a docket number cannot be obtained until the petition is formally filed. Instead of the foreign action docket number, this one will be used to issue the local subpoena. Thankfully, the movement's practice has been eliminated in Allegheny County.

11. § 5336. The state of Pennsylvania's laws apply. All subpoenas issued under this subchapter shall be subject to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and any legislation pertaining to the service of subpoenas and compliance with subpoenas. The following are examples of the regulations that should be in place: Section 4009.21 (Subpoena for the Production of Documents and Other Materials Served on a Person Who Is Not a Party). Warning, Objections). No. 4009.22 (relating to Service of Subpoena). Document 4009.23 (Certificate of Compliance by a Non-Party). Acknowledgment of Receipt of Materials or Documents). No. 4009.24 (relating to Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoena. Objection to Subpoena. Forms). No. 4009.25 (relating to Certificate Prerequisite to Service of Subpoena. Form). Two forms: No. 4009.26 (Subpoena to Produce Documents or Things) and No. 4009.27 (Certificate of Compliance)’ 42 Pa.C.S. Section 5336