How To Serve Legal Papers in Illinois: A Complete Guide

This article will provide guidance on How to serve legal papers in Illinois: a complete guide. Serving legal papers in Illinois is crucial for starting legal action. It notifies another party of legal proceedings. This process allows them to respond and subjects them to the court’s jurisdiction.

How Process Service Works

Understanding Illinois Process Service

Illinois does not have a statewide process service license. However, requirements vary, especially in Cook County, which has its own rules. Click here for Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure.

Licensing and Serving Process

In Illinois, private detectives can serve legal papers without special court approval, except in Cook County. Here, the court must appoint a special process server. Anyone over eighteen can serve papers if the court appoints them. They must show ID, fill out an application, pass a background check, and pay fees. Click Here for information on What Do Process Servers in Illinois Do?

The Sheriff’s Role

The sheriff is the primary server in Illinois. In less populated counties, civil staff may help. Licensed detectives or their employees can also serve, but they must show their license to the sheriff. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

Filing for Service

To serve someone, you must first file a complaint and request a summons. The summons, which the clerk issues, identifies the parties and the court date.


Illinois requires e-filing for civil cases, with some exceptions. The summons tells the defendant when to appear and to file an answer within 30 days.

Serving Papers in Illinois

Sheriffs, detectives, or licensed private servers can serve papers. In counties with a large population, a licensed detective or their employee can serve without special appointment. If the sheriff cannot serve, the coroner will take over. Courts can allow private citizens over eighteen to serve if they are not part of the case.

Personal Service

An authorized person can serve the defendant anywhere in the state. They can serve outside their county, delivering the summons directly to the defendant or leaving it at their residence.

Mail and Publication Service

For small claims, you can serve by mail for a fee. If you can’t find the defendant after trying hard, you can publish a notice in a local newspaper.

Serving Corporations and Special Cases

To serve a corporation, deliver papers to their registered agent or an officer in the state. If usual methods don’t work, you can ask the court for an alternative way to serve.

Subpoenas in Illinois

Subpoenas compel testimony or document production. Anyone over eighteen who is not part of the case can serve a subpoena. They must pay the witness for one day’s attendance and mileage.

Domesticating Out-of-State Subpoenas

Under the UIDDA-Illinois, present a foreign subpoena to the county clerk where discovery will happen. This does not force the person to appear in court in Illinois.

This guide streamlines the process of serving legal papers in Illinois, ensuring you understand how to proceed effectively.


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Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to help you out. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large! For a complete list of our Illinois Process Service Coverage Areas, Click Here!

Please feel free to contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

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