This article will provide guidance on how to serve legal papers in New Zealand. New Zealand is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters. Voluntary depositions may be conducted in New Zealand regardless of the nationality of the witness, provided no compulsion is used. Oral depositions or depositions on written questions may be taken by U.S. consular officers or by private attorneys from the U.S. or New Zealand at the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland or at another location such as a hotel or office, either on notice or pursuant to a commission. If the services of a U.S. consular officer are required to administer an oath to the witness, interpreter, and stenographer, such arrangements must be made in advance with the U.S. embassy directly. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

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In New Zealand, the plaintiff must serve or hand over almost every New Zealand Process Service document they submit with the High Court. This provides the date and location of a hearing or conference.

Documents may be served through delivery via mail or drop-off at the recipient’s address between 9 am and 5 pm. A form of New Zealand Process Service that the court may instruct the server to use is to deliver it to an address provided by the opposing party for serving of process. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

Interlocutory or originating applications without notice do not need the New Zealand Process Service of papers on the opposite party. For most District Court documents, New Zealand Process Service or delivery to the opposite party is a requirement. Neither party is responsible for serving the other party’s papers, although both parties are responsible for doing so. This provides the date and location of a hearing or conference. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

New Zealand Process Service is required for papers that initiate a proceeding, such as the statement of claim, a notice of the proceeding, and list of documents, or an initiating application. If the other party refuses to accept the papers, the person serving them must place them on the table in front of them so that they may view them. The Court may be able to help the individual attempting service if they have attempted to serve the papers themselves but have been unsuccessful. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

Documents may also be served if the individual mail them to the address provided by the other party or leave it at that address between 9 am and 5 pm for servicing.  However, the individual will need to make a particular New Zealand Process Service application for this if they want to send it to a post office box, document exchange box, email address, or fax number supplied by the other party for the purpose of service. When the plaintiff files an application without notice, they do not need to serve the opposite party with any papers.


New Zealand Process Service requires the individual to deliver the notification to the recipient in person or at the person’s normal or last-known place of abode or employment. Alternatively, New Zealand Process Service may also be done through pre-paid mail to the address of the person’s normal or last known place of home or business, making sure that it is sent to the person’s designated postal service address or delivering it to the person’s designated New Zealand Process Service address, which they have selected in document exchange. 

Crown organizations may be serviced by presenting New Zealand Process Service in person to the organization’s headquarters or by sending it to the fax number or email address that the company has designated as its main office.

As long as there is no evidence to the contrary, the moment at which a letter would have been delivered in the normal course of postal service is considered to be when a notification or other document is received by a person. If the New Zealand Process Service notice is returned to the sender after being posted, it may not be considered served.

New Zealand Process Service on the Chief Executive of the relevant government Department or Ministry is considered service on a Minister when a notice or other document is needed to be served on the Minister. New Zealand Process Service on an official of the body or the registered office of the body is regarded to constitute service on the body when a notice or other document is to be served on it (whether or not it is incorporated). It is possible to serve the notice on a partnership by delivering it to one of the partners, and this is seen as serving notice on the whole partnership.


Prosecutorial procedures begin with the filing of information (charge). The Summary Proceedings Act of 1957 lays forth the steps involved in serving a summons.

A summons and an “information” (charge) are almost similar. It is the defendant who receives a copy of the information, which is known as the summons. The date and hour of the hearing are specified in the summons. Constables and court officials are authorized to serve summonses, but anybody else must be authorized by the Registrar of Process Servers to carry out the New Zealand Process Service.

If a person is required to serve a document herein, the requirement may be met by [A.] serving the document to the recipient or bringing it to the recipient’s notice if the recipient refuses to accept it; [B.] leaving the document for the recipient at the recipient’s place of residence with another person who appears to be of or over the age of fourteen years; [C.]  leaving the document for the recipient at the recipient’s place of business or place of work with another person by sending the document to the recipient by prepaid post addressed to the recipient’s last known place of residence or business:  or [D.] if the recipient has a known electronic address, by sending it to the recipient at that address in electronic form.

New Zealand Process Service should be served by an authorized process server. A copy of the application and notice of the time and place appointed for the hearing of the application.

An authorized process server refers to a person who is a constable or a Police employee authorized by the Commissioner of Police to serve documents. Specifically to the Summary Proceedings Act, the process server may be or officer of the court; or a person or a member of a class of persons authorized by a Judge or Registrar to serve documents either generally or in respect of a particular case or class of case. This is not exhaustive, as the server may also be an officer or employee of a corporation that is authorized by the Secretary for Justice to serve or an individual who is authorized by the Secretary for Justice. 

 In relation to a body corporate or Crown organization, the server includes a person involved in the decision-making or management of the body or organization. Recipient means the person required to be served, in relation to a document, includes giving the document to a person; but does not include filing the document in a court under rules of court.

There may be circumstances in which a person must receive the court papers in person in order for them to reply to them in a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, the process server must collect a signed proof of service and get the recipient’s acknowledgment of service before they may deliver the papers.

The regulations for serving papers in New Zealand are quite strict and vary significantly from court to court. In order to make sure that the papers are served in accordance with Ministry of Justice guidelines, one must be familiar with them.


Consular services to U.S. citizens are available only at the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland. Consular services are unavailable at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington even in case of emergency. It is important that an individual should only approach the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland for consular assistance.

The Hague Convention on the Service of Civil and Commercial Process Outside the State Parties does not apply to New Zealand. Personal service, international registered mail with return receipt desired, and letters rogatory are among the ways in which the process might be served in New Zealand.

If the defendant does not reside or do business in New Zealand, the District Court nearest to the location where the events leading to the claim occurred or the property in question is situated (users may choose which District Court) should be used. The same location must be used for all future applications (unless the matter is transferred to another District Court).

It is possible to request a registration transfer if the case was filed in the improper register or if a registry in another court would be more suited. In New Zealand, everyone who is about to be sued or has been listed as a defendant in a lawsuit has to be given advance notice of the proceedings.


In the absence of a treaty or other arrangement, requesting judicial help from another country is often accomplished via the use of letters rogatory. If an act is carried out without the consent of the foreign court, it might be considered a breach of that country’s sovereignty. Letters rogatory are requests sent from one country’s courts to another country’s courts. There may be circumstances when the foreign country’s laws allow the use of letters of rogatory to serve process or gather evidence.

If the nation where New Zealand Process Service or evidence is to be served or taken is not a party to any multilateral treaties on judicial aid, such as the Hague Service or Evidence Conventions or the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol, litigants should not proceed with the letters rogatory procedure. These norms streamline the New Zealand Process Service of asking for court aid, making it much less time-consuming and burdensome than it would be otherwise.

A year or more may pass before letters rogatory are finally carried out. In the past, diplomatic routes were used to send rogatory letters, which took a long time to complete. In countries where it is legal, the request may be sent straight to the foreign court or other competent authorities, cutting down on processing time. It’s possible to get a list of foreign lawyers who are prepared to help American customers on the websites of US embassies and consulates across the world.

To avoid being misunderstood by a foreign court, letters rogatory should be drafted in plain, uncomplicated English with no extraneous material. Many nations have their own methods of gathering evidence, and the United States’ discovery laws may be seen as too wide by other countries.

An overly wide request may result in the foreign government refusing to comply with the request if it seems to be ill-advised.  Include information in the letters rogatory if a foreign court’s procedures are preferred. The letters of rogatory should be sent to the proper judicial authority in the jurisdiction.

It is up to the nation to whom the letter is directed and the aid requested as to what format rogatory letters should take. Legal frameworks for distributing aid exist in several nations.

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1. Requests from New Zealand to Obtain Evidence in the United States:  Requests from New Zealand may be submitted to the Office of Foreign Litigation, Civil Division, Department of Justice, 1100 L St., N.W., Room 11006, Washington, D.C. 20530.  Requests may also be submitted via diplomatic channels to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Overseas Citizens Services, Office of American Citizens Services, East Asia and Pacific Division, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP. Mailing address: SA-17, 10th Floor, 2201 C Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20522.

2. Section 352 of the RMA specifies the methods for serving papers.

3. The summons and complaint may also be sent to their designated service address by means of a fax, or to their fax number, delivering it to the person’s designated service email address; or through service in accordance with the specific directions given by the Environmental Court.

4. In accordance with section 352(4A), a manner agreed upon between the organization and the person serving the notice or document.

5. The assumption of service was disproved in Farrell v Manukau City Council [2008] A056/08. Although the Council had relied on the resource approval and proceeded with the bidding procedure, an appeal was lodged within the time limit, the Court ruled.

6. Abatement notices may be delivered by mail, however a charge of non-compliance with such notices was rejected in Wellington City Council v Taylor [1997] CRN 6085018671 because the letter was served through the Council’s internal mail system. Both the council and the defendant were unable to establish that the letter was mailed on the day it was dated.

7. According to Section 24 of the Summary Proceedings Act, there is a procedure for serving summonses on defendants.

8. That is required to be served on the judgment debtor which must be served by or on behalf of the judgment creditor or by an authorized process server.

9. U.S. Consulate General Auckland

Citigroup Centre, 3rd Floor,

23 Customs Street East

Auckland, New Zealand

Telephone: +(64) (9) 303-2724

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(64) (4) 462-6000

Fax: +(64) (9) 303-1069


U.S. Embassy Wellington

29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon

Wellington, New Zealand

Telephone: +(64) (4) 462-6000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(64) (4) 462-6000

Fax: +(64) (4) 499-0490

10. On the Hague Conference on Private International Law Service Convention site, see the US Central Authority for the Service Convention page for information on service in the US. In addition, the Hague Service Convention Office processes requests for service of process from nations that are not signatories.

11. Civil appeals may be submitted to the following authorities or courts: 

any district court that the parties (user and any other appellants or respondents) agree to is the most convenient to where the appeal was heard, or if there was no hearing, the most convenient district court where the decision being appealed was handed down (if all agree that an appeal should be filed in a Registry other than the one designated above, a memorandum recording agreement should be filed along with the notice of appeal).

No matter whether a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit, the individual must submit all of their paperwork at the District Court where the plaintiff began their case.

12. Non-complying documents

(1)A document that does not comply with these rules may be received for filing only by leave of a Judge or the Registrar.

(2)The cost of an application under subclause (1) must be borne by the party making it, and may not be claimed as costs against another party under Part 14.

(3)Despite subclause (1), a document presented for filing by a party who is not represented by a lawyer may be received and corrected by a Registrar, with the consent of that party.


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