This article will provide guidance on How To Serve legal papers in Pennsylvania. Competent adults may serve if the only remedy sought is a declaration of judgment or if equity, division, or waste prevention. To serve in the Commonwealth, a person must present the original process in conformity with Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

A competent adult may also carry out the original Pennsylvania Process Service if it is in the interests of justice or if it is desired only that a declaration of judgment be made.


By filing a supplemental document that is essential in the form specified under Pennsylvania Process Service, the defendant or the defendant’s authorized agent may accept the original process.

In a case that is brought in the First Judicial District, the first procedure might be served there. In the event that service may be made in any other county, this deputizes Pennsylvania Process Service or a competent adult to convey the process to a county sheriff.

The original Pennsylvania Process Service must be served within the Commonwealth within thirty days after the issuance of a writ or complaint. Whenever a new process is issued or a complaint is reinstated, ‘reissued’ or ‘reinstated’ is necessary to be written on the original process by the prothonotary. This applies to cases where Pennsylvania Process Service has not been made either within the Commonwealth or outside the Commonwealth within the time specified.

A writ or complaint may be reissued or reinstated as many times as necessary. Reissued writs or reopened complaints may include a new defendant as a party defendant, depending on the circumstances of the original case. A replacement writ or complaint may be issued or a substitute complaint filed if the original writ and complaint are lost or destroyed.

When a document is issued, reinstated, or replaced, the party seeking it must serve Pennsylvania Process Service within the time limit specified. Instead of issuing another summons, the plaintiff may simply file a new complaint, which will be considered as an alternative original procedure and the same as issuing another summons at the time of the complaint’s filing. A fresh summons may be issued, or one may revive their complaint, equivalent to a new summons being issued. The plaintiff may also employ a reissued writ or a reinstatement suit as an alternative, original route.

Prothonotary authentication or confirmation by the plaintiff is required to serve the defendant with a copy of the original Pennsylvania Process Service. In order to serve the original process on an adult defendant, the document may be given to the defendant or to an adult member of their family or to the adult person in charge of the residence where the defendant resides, or to a manager of the hotel, inn, apartment house, or other places of lodging where the defendant is staying. The manager of the establishment will then serve the document to the defendant.

If the original process is to be served on the Commonwealth or an officer of the Commonwealth, a copy must be sent to the named defendant’s or Attorney General’s office.

Copy of the original process must be sent to the defendant’s office and Attorney General’s Office by hand.


Any new defendants who file a complaint need not produce copies of any previous filings in the case. For Pennsylvania Process Service to be served via mail, the defendant or an authorized agent must get a signed receipt for a copy of the original process. The required receipt must be signed by the defendant or an authorized representative before Pennsylvania Process Service on the defendant may be performed.

Sending a return copy by regular mail with the sender’s return address on it is one alternative for service if the defendant’s letter is returned by postal authorities with a note showing that the defendant denied delivery. It is also possible for a copy of the complaint to be served on the defendant by mailing Pennsylvania Process Service to them, but only with their return address visible if they reject delivery. A letter is considered delivered if it is not returned to the sender within fifteen days after it is sent by regular mail.

If the letter is returned as unclaimed, the plaintiff must use another method of service in order to comply with Pennsylvania Process Service rules. Within ninety days following the issuance of the writ, the filing of the complaint, or the revival of the writ, the original Pennsylvania Process Service must be served outside of the Commonwealth.

After receiving a letter of rogatory or other requests, another option is to serve in person in a court of general jurisdiction, by law or treaty, or as requested by a foreign authority. Within ninety days following the issuance of the writ, the filing of the complaint, or the revival of the writ, the original process must be served outside of the Commonwealth.


Once service of the original Pennsylvania Process Service has been made, the sheriff or other person conducting service must promptly make a return of service. If the period for Pennsylvania Process Service has passed and no service has been performed, no writ has been reissued, and no complaint has been reinstated, a return for no service will be given.

If the court needs further information to determine whether appropriate service was made, it must be provided in the return of service. If the defendant refuses to accept postal service, a return receipt signed by the defendant is necessary for evidence of service by mail, or if a return receipt signed by the defendant is required for service by ordinary mail.

Evidence, in this case, includes a returned letter saying delivery was refused, as well as an affidavit attesting to the fact that the letter was delivered by normal mail and returned within fifteen days of sending.

In order to return to work, one must have an affidavit on file unless they are the county sheriff. The affidavit must detail the actions taken to ensure that Pennsylvania Process Service was accomplished if someone other than the sheriff certifies that service was not done.

In order to resume or discontinue service, the prothonotary must be informed. The defendant does not have to return service if they accept service of the original procedure. Return of service or non-service must be sent by standard mail to any party requesting service if the sheriff has filed a return of service or non-service.

A person who has been served with Pennsylvania Process Service in a legal action becomes a defendant in the case when the process is served. When a plaintiff demands it, the prothonotary is obligated by law to list the names of everyone who has access to the property as a party to the case.

The individual served should not be a party to the lawsuit if the remedy sought is the foreclosure of a mortgage. As a last resort, the plaintiff might get a special order from the court to ensure proper delivery. An affidavit explaining the investigation into the defendant’s whereabouts and why service cannot be achieved is necessary to support the motion.

The notice must be published in a court-approved legal notice publication and a county-wide newspaper for widespread circulation for that given authorization to serve Pennsylvania Process Service via a public announcement. 


Service of original process upon a corporation or similar entity is made by handing a copy to any authorized persons in a company, provided the person served is not a plaintiff in action. This individual must be [A.] an executive officer, partner, or trustee of the corporation or similar entity, or [B.] the manager, clerk, or other people for the time being in charge of any regular place of business or activity of the corporation or similar entity, or [C.] an agent authorized by the corporation or similar entity in writing to receive service of process for it.


Service of original process upon the Commonwealth or an officer of the Commonwealth or a member of any of the boards that manage the affairs of Pennsylvania will be considered as authentic if this process is made at the office of the defendant and the office of the attorney general by handing a copy to the person in charge.

 Service of original process upon a political subdivision can be made by handing a copy to [A.] an agent duly authorized by the political subdivision to receive Pennsylvania Process Service, or [B.] the person in charge at the office of the defendant, or [C.] the mayor, or the president, chairman, secretary or clerk of the tax levying body thereof, and in counties where there is no tax levying body, the chairman or clerk of the board of county commissioners. This does not apply to an appeal from an administrative determination, order, or decree of such officer, department, board, commission, or instrumentality.

Pennsylvania Process Service may be sent to the registered address of the entity that appears on Pennsylvania records. The Secretary of the Commonwealth may accept service if so ordered by a Pennsylvania Judge. The court order, accompanied by the complaint, should be sent by certified mail to the Department of State, return receipt requested. The statutory fee is USD70.00 for each defendant to be served.


When a court issues a subpoena, Pennsylvania Process Service requires witnesses to come and testify at a certain time and place. Papers or other objects in the person’s possession may also be needed to be given to authorities. To issue subpoenas, one must be in the middle of a legal proceeding in court or deposition in a legal matter that is ongoing in court.

No one may be forced to appear before an attorney, party, or a representative authorized by that party by a subpoena or to deliver documents and goods ex parte.

 If an adult is delivering the subpoena to someone inside the Commonwealth, they may do by mailing it to them by certified or documented delivery, postage pre-paid, or restricted delivery. An individual may serve someone subpoenaed once the letter is delivered to them. In addition to those summoned, anybody else may sign the return receipt; regular mail may also be utilized. For a subpoena to be served, Pennsylvania Process Service requires that a copy of the notification and acknowledgment, as well as a stamped, self-addressed envelope, be sent with the letter.

On-demand, those who have been subpoenaed must pay the cost of one day’s attendance and round-trip transportation. If the subpoena is served by mail, payment for one day’s attendance and round-trip travel expenses must be sent.

When a court issues an order on motion to the custodian of a person confined in jail or prison, it may force that person’s presence. For regular postal subpoenas, the witness must confess to receiving them in order for them to be legitimate. 


Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act – Pennsylvania, If a party wishes to obtain a subpoena, they must submit a foreign subpoena to a prothonotary in the jurisdiction where the person is the subject of the order lives, is employed, or frequently transacts business. It is not necessary to attend in person in the Commonwealth’s courts when a subpoena is requested.

As soon as a foreign subpoena is received by a court, a prothonotary must issue a subpoena for service to the person to whom the subpoena is addressed, in line with that court’s process.

The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all counsel of record in the proceeding to which the subpoena relates and any party not represented by counsel must be included or accompanied by the subpoena.


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. Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia County is part of the First Judicial District. A competent adult in any other county may serve the originating process in Philadelphia County by deputized service.

2. One of the following methods is available if the defendant is a juvenile or otherwise unable to be served with the original process in line with the procedures for serving the original process on an adult defendant:

  1. A copy of the document may be obtained by the person responsible for the child or disabled person in the following ways.

3. Real property cases require that the initial summons and complaint be issued in line with Rule 400 et al.

In a dispute involving a real estate interest, when the remedy sought is possession or mortgage foreclosure, the original process must be served on anybody not designated as a party who is found in possession of the property. This should be recorded by the sheriff or another person doing the service in return.

4. Or a department, board, commission, or instrumentality of the Commonwealth.

5. 231 Pa. Code § 422


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