This article will provide guidance on how to serve legal papers in Massachusetts. Serving Process in Massachusetts involves delivering court documents to the person who must respond to them, the defendant. The process must provide information as to the case, what it is about, what the defendant is required to do, whether there is a court hearing, and where and when the defendant must appear in court. The sheriff, deputy sheriff, or special sheriff, any other person authorized by law or a person who has been specifically appointed to serve the plaintiff is required to give the individual a copy of the complaint and a summons for Massachusetts Process Service upon commencing the action. A supplementary or extra summons may be issued against any defendant at the request of the plaintiff[1] Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!.

Premier Process Serving & Investigation Services

If a sheriff, deputy, or special sheriff is not available, Massachusetts Process Service must be made by a person who is authorized to do so by law. If service is to be made outside of the Commonwealth, a person who is permitted to do so by law  or in the place where Massachusetts Process Service is being made[2] will be responsible. Click Here for information on What Do Process Servers in Massachusetts Do.


It is necessary to serve both the summons and the complaint simultaneously. The plaintiff is responsible for providing the service provider with copies of any documents that may be required[3]. If the person tasked with serving the papers reports that they were unable to locate the defendant, the defendant’s last and usual abode, or any agent upon whom service may be made, the court may issue an order of notice in the manner and form prescribed by Massachusetts Process Service laws[4].

A copy of the summons and the complaint to an officer, a managing or general agent, or the person in charge of the business at the principal place of business of the foreign or domestic corporation in the Commonwealth, or a copy of the summons and the complaint to a person in charge of the business at its principal place of business is necessary to be provided. If the person authorized to serve process returns to the court with a report that they have been unable to locate a person to serve process on, the court may issue an order of notice in the manner and form required by Massachusetts Process Service on the plaintiff’s request. Click here for information on Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.

People, organizations, and government agencies may bring civil lawsuits against each other in court, in a contrast to criminal lawsuits which can only be brought by criminal defendants. A civil lawsuit is started in court by the plaintiff (the person who is suing) by: [A.] complaints may be filed (the document submitted to the court describing what the lawsuit is about); [B.] making a monetary contribution to the court; [C.] purchase from the court an original summons (an order through which the court requires a particular individual to reply within a certain time frame) for each person being sued. Click here for information on How To Identify A Good Process Service Agency

The resident agent of a company must be served by a sheriff or other authorized process server[5]. The Secretary of the Commonwealth will act as agent for Massachusetts Process Service if the corporation’s resident agent cannot be located or if the corporation has not been registered with the Corporations Division.

The Corporations Division will send a letter to the foreign company’s last known primary office via ordinary mail. It is up to the plaintiff or his attorney to provide a correct address if the foreign company isn’t listed with the Corporations Division. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

If suing a foreign person[6] or a foreign member of a partnership who is conducting business in Massachusetts, an individual must first serve the defendants’ designated agent directly. Final Massachusetts Process Service may be made via the Secretary of the Commonwealth if the person or participants in a partnership have not designated an agent to receive Massachusetts Process Service. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

Corporations Division requires two (2) copies of the following from the party requesting Massachusetts Process Service. It is necessary for a summons and a complaint to also include a sheriff’s diligent search certificate as well as an official check for ten dollars (USD10.00). Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

If the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s counsel does not have the defendant’s most recent address on file, the Corporations Division will send Massachusetts Process Service to that address through registered mail. Affidavits of compliance will then be sent to the court with either the certified receipt or the returned letter.

No matter how long a foreign limited partnership has been operating in the Commonwealth, it is regarded to have designated the Secretary of State as its agent to receive any and all legal Massachusetts Process Service directed to them. Procedures for serving legal documents on foreign entities must be followed.

The summons and complaint must be served on the treasurer or clerk of the county, city, town, or other political subdivision in question, either personally or by mailing them to the treasurer or clerk via registered mail or certified mail. Copies of the summons and complaint may also be left at the office of the treasurer or clerk in question with the person in charge of that office.

A copy of the summons and the complaint may be delivered to the chairman or other chief executive officer of a common name authority, board, committee, or similar entity, or it may be left at the office of the said entity with the person in charge; or it may be mailed to such officer by registered or certified mail.


When an order from a Commonwealth official or agency is being challenged, a concise statement outlining which order has been challenged must be sent to the Attorney General of Commonwealth immediately, either by hand or registered or certified mail. By delivering the summons and complaint to the Attorney General of the Commonwealth’s Boston Office, as well as to any agency’s office or the chairperson, one of the members, or the secretary/clerk of the agency. This may be done by sending certified or registered copies to the Attorney General and the agency as per Massachusetts Process Service.

Personal service outside the Commonwealth follows Massachusetts Process Service rules. A copy of the summons and complaint may be served outside the Commonwealth or in accordance with any law of the place where the service is made, for Massachusetts Process Service in that place in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction or by any form of mail addressed to the individual if the perp is located outside the Commonwealth.


There must be written evidence of Massachusetts Process Service within the time period for which a respondent is required to react to a Massachusetts Process Service served upon them. If someone other than a sheriff, deputy sheriff, or special sheriff performs service, they must sign an affidavit. This may be done by affidavit, or in accordance with local law, in order to prove Massachusetts Process Service outside the Commonwealth for a general jurisdiction suit in a Commonwealth court. In the case of postal service, the court may accept proof of delivery, such as a receipt signed by the recipient, or other evidence of personal delivery. The validity of the Massachusetts Process Service will not be affected if evidence of the Massachusetts Process Service is not provided.

The court has the power to change any Massachusetts Process Service or evidence of service at any time and on any conditions, it deems appropriate, unless it is obvious that significant harm will be caused to the rights of the person against whom the process is issued.

There will be no prejudice if the action is dismissed on the court’s own initiative or upon motion as to a defendant for failure to serve summons and complaint within ninety days of the complaint being filed and the party whose service was required cannot show good cause why such service was not made within that period.


When a subpoena is issued by the clerk of court or a notary, it must include the name of the court and the name of the action, as well as a specific day, time, and location where the person to whom it is addressed is to be summoned to appear and testify. An unfilled subpoena will be sent by the clerk, notary, or judge of the peace to the party making the request, who will then fill it out before it is served.

However, the court can [A.] quash or modify the subpoena if it is unreasonable and oppressive or [B.]  condition denial of the motion on the advancement of evidence by the person in whose behalf the subpoena was issued upon a motion made promptly and at or before the time specified in the subpoena for compliance therewith.

Anyone over the age of eighteen who is not a party to the proceedings may serve a subpoena. It is necessary to deliver, exhibit, read, or leave a copy of a subpoena at a person’s residence in order to serve that person, as well as to pay the fees for one day’s attendance and the distance permitted by law, on the individual mentioned therein. Fees and mileage are not required if the subpoena is issued on behalf of the United States, the Commonwealth, or a governmental subdivision of either, or an officer or agency of either.

Prior to serving a notice to take the deposition, no subpoena shall be issued for its taking. It is possible to order the person to whom it is addressed to produce and allow inspection and copying of designated books, papers, or tangible things that are evidence of any of the topics covered by the scope of examination permitted.  When a party is served with a deposition subpoena requiring them to produce papers or objects, they must be given at least thirty days to comply.

Within forty-five days after serving the summons and complaint, a defendant may not be required to comply with a subpoena. The judge has the discretion to set the time limit at any length it deems appropriate. Within ten days of receiving the subpoena, the person to whom it is addressed may submit a written objection to the attorney indicated in the subpoena, objecting to viewing or copying of any or all of the designated papers, if such period is less than ten days following receipt of the subpoena.

Subpoenaed documents may only be seen and copied if an order issued by the court from whence the subpoena was issued grants the party serving the subpoena access as per Massachusetts Process Service. Subpoenaed witnesses may be ordered to appear at any point before or during the deposition if an objection has been made by the party serving them and they have been given notice of this[7].


letter of rogatory or an application from an interested party must be submitted to the Massachusetts court[8] in order to commence the procedure. The party may use this request to ask someone in the state of Massachusetts to [A.] provide a statement; [B.] give testimony; [C.] produce documentation and other evidence. An order from the Massachusetts court may then proceed[9].


Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North DakotaNebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming


Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados | Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech RepublicDenmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia | Lithuania | LuxembourgMalawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | MexicoMonaco | Montenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |PolandPortugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | SingaporeSlovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | SwedenSwitzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos IslandsUkraine | United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam


New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004


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; For a complete list of our Massachusetts 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.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A


[1] It is possible to get a summons blank from the clerk, and it must be filled out by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s counsel in line with Rule 4. (b)

[2] The clerk’s signature or facsimile signature; court seal; Commonwealth of Massachusetts name; teste of first justice of court to which it shall be returnable who is not a party; the name of the court and the names of the parties; directed to the defendant; name and address of plaintiff’s attorney if any; otherwise, the plaintiff’s address; the plaintiff’s name and facsimile signature on the summons;

[3] By handing a summons and complaint to an individual, or by leaving a copy of the summons and the complaint at his last known address; or by handing a summons and complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or statute to receive service of process, provided that any further notice required by such statute is given in accordance with such statute

[4] upon the plaintiff’s request

[5] M.G.L. s. 15.10 allows service on a foreign firm other than an insurance business.

[6] M.G.L. Chapter 227, s. 5,

[7] As long as he is a resident of the Commonwealth, a person can’t be summoned to testify at a location more than 50 airline miles away from where he now lives, his place of work, or his place of business.

[8] Massachusetts

MGL c. 223A §10; MGL c. 223A, § 11; MGL c. 233, § 45

[9] A court of this commonwealth may order a person who is domiciled or is found within this commonwealth to give his testimony or statement or to produce documents or other things for use in a proceeding in a tribunal outside this commonwealth. The order may be made upon the application of any interested person or in response to a letter rogatory and may prescribe the practice and procedure, which may be wholly or in part the practice and procedure of the tribunal outside this commonwealth, for taking the testimony or statement or producing the documents or other things. To the extent that the order does not prescribe otherwise, the practice and procedure shall be in accordance with that of the court of this commonwealth issuing the order. The order may direct that the testimony or statement be given, or document or other thing produced, before a person appointed by the court. The person appointed shall have the power to administer any necessary oath.


The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.