This article will provide guidance on How To Serve legal papers in Missouri. A summons or other Missouri Process Service must be issued and delivered to the sheriff or other person designated to serve it upon receipt of a pleading requiring such Missouri Process Service. Parties needing Missouri Process Service must seek it in writing, and the clerk will then provide a copy of the summons or other Missouri Process Service to that party for service as soon as possible. A supplementary or extra summons and procedure may be issued at the written request of such a party. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

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There should be a seal on the. Summons, the court’s name on it, the parties’ names on it, and the summons should be addressed to the defendant with the plaintiff’s attorney’s name and address if there is one; otherwise, it should be addressed to the plaintiff. The clerk must sign it, date it, and sign it under the seal of the court. If the defendant fails to appear and defend as required by law, judgment will be entered against them for the relief sought in the petition unless they appear and defend within the timeframe and at the location specified in the summons. Click Here for information on What Do Process Servers in Missouri Do!

Missouri Process Service may be made in civil cases touching funds, wills, trusts, estates, a particular property, or any interest therein or any res or status within the jurisdiction of the court. Those seeking service by registered or certified mail must submit an affidavit stating [A.] why personal service on the party to be served by mail is not possible in this state and [B.] the party’s name and address for serving by mail. Using merely a return receipt signed by the addressee, the clerk will send a summons and a copy of the pleading to the party to be served. Click here for information on Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure

Missouri Process Service within the state should be made by the sheriff or a person over eighteen years who is not a party to the action.  Upon an individual[1], Missouri Process Service should be done by delivering a copy of the summons and petition personally to the individual or by leaving a copy of the summons and petition at the individual’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of the individual’s family over the age of fifteen years, or by delivering a copy of the summons and petition to an agent authorized by appointment or required by law to receive Missouri Process Service[2]. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

A person authorized by law to serve Missouri Process Service in civil actions within the state or territory where such service is made, or by the deputy of a person so authorized; or by a person appointed by the court in which the action is pending, if the action is being litigated in another state or jurisdiction. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

An official copy of the summons and petition must be sent immediately to a defendant’s last known address, and it must include a copy of the Missouri Process Service, as well as the summons itself. The return receipt must be signed by the recipient only when the letter is sent by registered or certified mail. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

In the first instance, Missouri Process Service is made by publication of a notice issued according to an order of the court or its clerk. The party desiring service by publication must file a statement stating that one or more of the persons to be served are unborn or their names are unknown to the party desiring service by publication or facts showing why Missouri Process Service cannot be obtained and the last known address of the party to be served or, in lieu thereof, the address of the party desiring service by publication. Unborn or unknown people’s heirs, grantees, or successors must be named or described if they are the property’s last known transferees or successors.

The notice must state: [A] that an action has been commenced; [B.] briefly the object and general nature thereof; [C.] a description of any property to be affected; [D.] the name of the court and the names of the parties to the civil action; [E.] the name and address of the attorney, if any, for the plaintiff, otherwise the plaintiff’s address; [F,] that judgment by default will be entered against a defendant unless the defendant files an answer or other pleading or otherwise appears and defends within forty-five days after the date of the first publication, or such longer time as the court may fix by order; and [G.] the date of the first publication.

The notice should be published at least once each week for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county where the civil action is commenced designated by the party requesting publication. If there is no such newspaper, then the publication shall be in a newspaper designated by the court.

If the address of any of the parties to be served by publication is given in the verified statement, the clerk is required to mail a copy of the order of publication of notice and a copy of the petition within ten days after such order of publication mail to each such defendant and file a certificate that such copies have been mailed.


The summons or other Missouri Process Service must be served and returned immediately by the officer or other person who received Missouri Process Service. No later than thirty days following the date of issuance, a copy of the Missouri Process Service must be submitted to the court with a statement explaining why service was not possible. This period for Missouri Process Service may be extended by the court up to ninety days after issuance.

Any process, return, or evidence of Missouri Process Service may be filed or altered at any time by the court unless it is obvious that serious harm would be caused to the substantial rights of the person against whom the Missouri Process Service was issued. The information included in the return of Missouri Process Service is prima facie evidence of the events described.

When a return does not match up with the facts discovered by the court, the person who served the party or the sheriff, sheriff’s deputies, and sureties, or any other person who performed the service, may present the service facts and challenge the return. If the court determines that the stated facts are false, it may throw aside any decision already rendered, alter it in whole or in part, or take any other action it considers appropriate if it thinks that justice so requires.

It is possible to serve a summons and petition on an unincorporated domestic or foreign business entity by delivering a copy to the defendant’s registered agent or any other representative authorized to receive the documents by appointment or law or by leaving copies at the defendant’s business office with whoever is in charge of that location.

A copy of the summons and petition shall be delivered to the clerk of the county court in the case of the county, to the mayor or city clerk or city attorney in the case of a city, and to the chief executive officer in the case of any public, municipal, governmental or quasi-public corporation or body or to any other person lawfully designated. However, if no one on that list is willing or able to accept Missouri Process Service, the court that issued the summons and petition may appoint a substitute recipient.

An acknowledgment of the proof of service should be recognized as legitimate as service by an officer if it is signed by the defendant’s proper signature and is accompanied by an affidavit stating that the defendant has received the Missouri Process Service[3]. There is no limit to where a Missouri Process Service may be served or where it can be transferred for Missouri Process Service in this state.

Each officer to whom a summons or other process is presented for Missouri Process Service within the state must return the writ in writing and sign it, indicating the date, time, and location where it was served and how it was served. For non-officers, an affidavit must be prepared to detail the time, location, and manner in which the process was served.

When a summons or other Missouri Process Service is served outside the state, each official involved must make an affidavit before a clerk or judge of that state’s court, which affiant is an officer or other person authorized to administer oaths in that state. The affiant must also identify themselves as an officer or person authorized to administer oaths in that state. The affidavit or any other evidence may be taken into account by the court when deciding whether service was properly made.

To prove that Missouri Process Service was properly served, an affidavit indicating the date, time, and location of service must be filed with the court in question. It is up to the court to decide whether or not service has been properly completed. ‘Certificate of Notice Mailing’ from the Secretary of State[4], the Public Service Commission Secretary, and the Insurance Director. Using an affidavit of official mailing, the notice required may be shown. The original documents to which the affidavit pertains should have the affidavit endorsed or annexed to them. In addition to the return registered or certified mail receipt, it must be filed in the court where the case is proceeding immediately.

Missouri Process Service by mail may be shown by submitting an official copy of the summons or petition returned by registered or certified mail. An affidavit stating the dates and newspaper in which the notice was published proves Missouri Process Service by publication. The affidavit must be accompanied by a copy of the notice. There must be an affidavit or a clerk’s certificate certifying that the defendant received a copy of the notice upon order for service by publication and the petition, together with a copy of the date of mailing.

It is sufficient evidence of Missouri Process Service if the person being served or an agent authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the person to be served, either within or outside the state, refuses to take copies of the Missouri Process Service. Documentation of Missouri Process Service is proof that the certified or registered letter was denied under relevant USPS rules when Missouri Process Service is done by mail.


Subpoenas are issued by the officer or person authorized to conduct depositions or by a clerk of the court where the civil action is now underway. They must include information about where and when each witness is required to appear and provide evidence.

The individual to whom a subpoena is issued may also be required to provide the books, papers, records, or other items listed in the summons. Nevertheless, the court may quash or modify the subpoena if it is unreasonable or oppressive or condition denial of the motion on the advancement by the person on whose behalf the subpoena is issued of the reasonable cost of producing the books, papers, documents, or tangible things specified in the subpoena.

As long as the individual who receives the subpoena is at least eighteen years old and is not a party in the case, they may serve it. Delivering a copy of a subpoena to a person mentioned in the summons is the method of service. The witness would have been able to appear in court under oath if he or she had paid the fees and traveled to the appropriate party.

The deposition may be obtained in two ways in Missouri. To begin, one might seek an order ordering the issue of a subpoena ex parte in the circuit court of the county in which the deponent resides[5].  A second option is to seek an official commission from the foreign state since Missouri law stipulates that anybody approved by an official commission has the same authority as someone authorized by a Missouri court, court-issued authority[6].

how to domesticate an OUT-OF-STATE SUBPOENA in Missouri

Issuing an out-of-state subpoena pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Deposition and Discovery Act (UIDDA)-Missouri, the clerk of the court in the county where discovery is to be performed in this state must be presented with a foreign subpoena before it may be requested that a subpoena be issued under this section. Subpoenas issued under this law do not obligate a person to appear in court in Missouri.

Second, the clerk of a court in this state must swiftly issue a summons to the person to whom the international subpoena is sent, in line with that court’s process.

A subpoena issued for a foreign defendant must include: [A.]   the terminology appropriate for the subpoena from abroad; and [B.]  part of the subpoena, it must include or be accompanied with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all counsel of record and of any party that is not represented by counsel.


Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed, mailed, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; All documents are received by our receptionist.


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[1]Including an infant or incompetent person not having a legally appointed guardian

[2] Upon an infant or disabled or incapacitated person who has a legally appointed conservator, by delivering a copy of the summons and petition to the conservator as provided in Rule 54.13(b)(1).

[3] Rule 54.16 provides for an acknowledgment of service by letter.

[4] Missouri Secretary of State Contact Information

Physical Address

600 W Main St.

Missouri State Information Center, Room 322

Jefferson City, MO 65101

Mailing Address

Missouri Secretary of State

600 W Main St.

Jefferson City, MO 65101

Direct: 573-751-4153

[5] Mo. Sup. Ct. R. 57.08 

Whenever the deposition of any person is to be taken in this state pursuant to the laws of another state or of the United States or of another country for use in proceedings there, the circuit court in the county where the deponent is found may, upon ex parte application, make an order directing issuance of a subpoena as provided in Rule 57.09, in aid of the taking of the deposition, and having due regard for the laws and rules of such foreign jurisdiction, may make such orders as could be made if the deposition were intended for use in this jurisdiction.

[6] Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 492.100;492.270.

492.270.  Officer may compel attendance of witness — contempt — if witness imprisoned, on what terms discharged. — 1.  Every person, judge, or other officers of the state required to take the depositions or examination of witnesses, in pursuance of sections 492.080 to 492.400 or by virtue of any commission issuing out of any court of record in this or any other government, shall have the power to issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear and testify and to compel their attendance, in the same manner, and under like penalties as any court of record of this state.

2.  Any person summoned as a witness in virtue of the provisions of sections 492.080 to 492.400 and attending, who shall refuse to give evidence which may be lawfully required to be given by him, on oath or affirmation, may be committed to prison by the officer or person authorized to take his deposition or testimony, there to remain without bail until he gives such evidence, or until he be discharged by due course of law; provided, that in case such person be discharged from such commitment or imprisonment upon habeas corpus sued therefor, the party or parties litigant, in whose behalf the refused evidence shall have been required, shall be liable to pay such person the costs by him incurred in effecting such discharge; and the judge or court hearing the application for discharge may, in its discretion, at the time of such discharge, allow a further sum of not exceeding twenty-five dollars for an attorney’s fee for prosecuting the proceedings on habeas corpus, to be paid by such party or parties litigant to the person so discharged; and provided further, that until such costs and attorney’s fee, if one be allowed, are paid or tendered to such person, he shall not be required further to depose or testify in the cause in which he was so summoned.


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