This article will provide guidance on How To Serve legal papers in North Carolina. When a summons is issued in the name of North Carolina, it must be signed by the Clerk of the Court, an Assistant Clerk, or a Deputy Clerk of that Court. The title of the case, the name of the court, and the county in which the action was initiated must all be included. It should be addressed to the defendant or defendants in question. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

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Each defendant is required to respond within thirty days after being served, and if he fails to do so, the plaintiff will file an application for relief in court. If there is no plaintiff’s attorney, the summons must indicate the plaintiff’s name and address, and if one is served with the summons, the summons must state that as well. Click Here for information on What Do Process Servers in North Carolina Do!

The summons will be issued as soon as the complaint is filed and within five days at the latest. There must be someone who can deliver the complaint and summons to the correct person. If North Carolina Process Service is to be performed by someone other than the sheriff of the county where the summons will be served, that person must be properly authorized to do so. To serve summons outside of this state, the appropriate individual must be a non-party and at least twenty-one years old, or a person allowed to do so by North Carolina Process Service guidelines. An extra summons for any defendants requested by the plaintiff will be issued per North Carolina Process Service. When the official with the power to issue summonses signs the form after it has been completed and dated, a summons is issued. The date on the summons serves as prima facie proof of when the North Carolina Process Service was issued. Click here for information on North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure

The summons must be served personally or by substitute personal service. Once a summons has been served on all parties specified in the summons, North Carolina Process Service should be returned to the clerk who issued it with a note indicating that North Carolina Process Service has been served. The summons will not be invalidated if the summons is not returned to the clerk after it has been served on all of the parties specified in the summons. North Carolina Process Service must be returned to the clerk of the court who issued it promptly at the end of such period, with a note of its non-service and the reasons for each party not served. However, the summons will remain valid even if this criterion is not met. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case

The plaintiff has the option of obtaining an endorsement on the original summons for an extension of time to complete the North Carolina Process Service. The summons will be returned the same way the North Carolina Process Service was sent out originally. Alternatively, the plaintiff may issue a summons under an assumed name or a pluries summons that is returnable in a similar fashion to the original North Carolina Process Service within ninety days after the issuing of the summons or the date of the last preceding endorsement. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

Within ninety days after the date of the last previous summons in the chain of summons, or ninety days of the last prior endorsement, an alias or pluries summons may be filed. The first endorsement may be made at any time within two years of the issuance of the original summons. Subsequent endorsements may be made at least once every two years, or an alias or pluries summons may be sued at any time within two years of the issuance of the original summons. After the issuance of such alias or pluries summons, the chain of summonses may be continued[1].

For any defendant not served with a summons within the time provided, the action is halted if the clerk does not endorse or issue an alias or pluries summons within that period. However, the action against the defendant will be considered to have begun on the date of the issuing or endorsement of the alias or pluries summons or if the clerk supports an extension. Every summons, whether original, alias, pluries, or endorsement thereon, should be noted in the clerk’s record as to the day and time of North Carolina Process Service issuance. When the summons is returned, the clerk must record the date of the North Carolina Process Service return and the information that the summons was served or not served.

The clerk of the issuing court will appoint a suitable person to serve summons or other North Carolina Process Service if there is no proper officer in the county if the proper officer refuses or neglects to serve such North Carolina Process Service, or if such officer is a party to or otherwise interested in the action or proceeding, the clerk will appoint a suitable person. Any individual who is not a party to the action, who is not connected by blood or marriage to any party to the action, or to the person to whom service is to be given, may be used by the plaintiff or their agent or attorney if a proper official returns a summons or other North Carolina Process Service unexecuted.

The court may allow any North Carolina Process Service or evidence of North Carolina Process Service to be changed at any time, before or after judgment, in its discretion and on such conditions as it considers, unless it is apparent that serious injury would arise to substantial rights of the person against whom the North Carolina Process Service was issued.

A copy of the summons and the complaint must be physically delivered or sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the Attorney General, a deputy, or an assistant attorney general. This requirement is if the State is a party to the suit. In the case of a state agency, the summons and complaint must be physically delivered or sent, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to a North Carolina Process Service agent chosen by the agency.

Each agency of the state must designate a process agent by submitting the name and address of an agent to the Attorney General. When a state agency fails to comply, North Carolina Process Service may be made by personally delivering a copy of the summons, and the complaint, to the Attorney General or a deputy or assistant attorney general or by mailing a copy of the summons and the complaint, registered or certified mail with return receipt requested, addressed to the attorney general[2].

When the officials and officers listed cannot be located after ‘due diligence[3].,’ the court or a judge may grant an order that North Carolina Process Service of summons and complaint may be made by personally handing a copy to a deputy attorney general or an assistant attorney general of the state, as long as the affidavit proving that fact is satisfactory to the court is presented.

The summons and the complaint may be served on a domestic or foreign corporation being [A.] delivered to an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation, or [B.] left in the office of such officer, director, or managing agent; or [C.] delivered to an agent authorized by appointment or by the law to be served. The complaint and summons may be sent by registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested to the person named to whom North Carolina Process Service is to be made.

General or limited partnerships may be served by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint or by mailing the summons and complaint, registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to one or more general partners, as well as any attorney-in-fact and agent authorized by appointment to accept North Carolina Process Service in its behalf.

Publication may be used to serve a party who is unable to be served by registered or certified mail or personal delivery. Suppose the party to be served does not reside in the area where the serving party believes they will be served. In that case, they must publish a notice of North Carolina Process Service in a newspaper that qualifies for legal advertising and is widely circulated in the area where they believe they will be served, unless the action involves jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem.

A copy of the notice of North Carolina Process Service via publication should be addressed to the party immediately prior to the initial publication if the party’s post office address is known or can be determined with reasonable effort. If the post office address cannot be determined with reasonable effort, the letter might be excluded.

First, an affidavit must be filed with the court by the serving party proving North Carolina Process Service by registered or certified mail. When an affidavit like this is submitted with a return receipt signed by someone other than the intended recipient, it gives rise to the incontrovertible assumption that the person who received and signed the receipt was an agent of the intended recipient with legal authority to be served or accept North Carolina Process Service, or was a responsible adult living in the intended recipient’s home or usual abode. The day the summons and complaints are delivered to the address is the day North Carolina Process Service is complete[4].

In the absence of compelling evidence, a method or judgment is presumed to be sound. No one may argue that North Carolina Process Service should or could have been affected by personal service rather than delivery by registered or certified mail in action for North Carolina Process Service or a judgment of default. There is no way to challenge a default judgment based on a failure to meet the statutory obligation of due diligence as a precondition to serving by publication.


Witnesses are required to be present for the issuances and forms. The clerk of the superior court for the county where the hearing or trial is to be placed may issue a subpoena to compel the attendance of a witness in an ongoing case at the request of any party. The subpoena must be addressed to the witness, stating that it is called to testify at a certain time and location, as well as the name of the party at whose request the witness is summoned. When a party requests a subpoena, the clerk will issue a signed but otherwise, blank subpoena, which the seeking party must complete before it is served. The clerk’s signature is not required on a subpoena requesting the attendance of a witness or witnesses, and the signature of the party or his counsel is sufficient[5].

A judge of the superior court, a judge of the district court, or a magistrate may also issue such a subpoena.  The individual to whom a subpoena is issued may also be required to provide the records, books, papers, documents, or physical items listed in the subpoena. To avoid having to appear in person, the person who has been subpoenaed to produce records in their possession may instead send the court-certified copies of the records in question along with an affidavit attesting to their authenticity or an affidavit in the absence of any such records currently in their possession. As long as the document is in its original form, it is admissible in any action or North Carolina Process Service without additional authentication or certification[6]. If the party issuing the subpoena does not pay the fair cost of supplying records, books, papers, documents, or physical goods before the motion is granted, it will be denied. To take depositions, a subpoena must be issued.

In order to issue subpoenas, a clerk of the superior court in the county where the deposition is to be taken must have proof of service of a notice to take a deposition. An objector to examination or copying of some or all of the designated documents may serve a written objection on the attorney identified in the subpoena within ten days after service or, if such period is less than ten days after service before the time stated in the subpoena for compliance[7].

how to domesticate an OUT-OF-STATE SUBPOENA in north carolina

Issuing an out-of-state subpoena pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Deposition and Discovery Act (UIDDA)-North Carolina, 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 North Carolina.

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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Simply 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 assist you. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

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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[1] The extension techniques may be used interchangeably regardless of the previous extension’s form, as long as this condition is satisfied.

[2] ‘Agency of the State’ refers to all the state’s agencies and institutions except for local school boards or political subdivisions such as counties or cities and towns and villages in North Carolina that are not themselves municipal corporations or political subdivisions and which are specifically excluded from the scope of this rule as ‘agency of the State.’

[3] The complaint and the summons and summons must be physically delivered to the city’s mayor and city manager or a clerk or sent by registered or certified mail to the city’s mayor and city manager or clerk.

[4]  The statute of limitations may not be invoked as a defense if North Carolina Process Service is completed within sixty days of the date the securitized receipt was delivered to the addressee’s residence or usual place of abode and the presumption described in the preceding sentence is rebutted by proof that the person who received the receipt was not a person of sufficient age and discretion residing therein.

[5] As long as it is signed by an attorney, the clerk does not need to sign a paper subpoena for a witness.

[6] If the subpoena is unreasonable and oppressive, the court may compel the party on whose behalf the subpoena is issued to pay the person to whom the subpoena is directed part or all of their reasonable expenditures, including lawyers’ fees or costs, incurred in complying with the subpoena.

[7] A person serving a subpoena cannot view or copy documents if an objection is lodged, except as authorized by the court order issuing the subpoena. If an objection is raised, the party serving the subpoena may petition for an order at any point before or during the deposition upon notice to the deponent.


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