This article will provide guidance on How To Serve legal papers in Rhode Island. When a sheriff or sheriff’s deputy is not available, Rhode Island Process Service may be done by any individual who is at least 18 years old and who is not a party in the case. 

On Sundays, no service will be provided. A fine of not less than USD500 nor more than USD1,000, and imprisonment for a term of not less than six (6) months, nor more than one year, will be imposed on any individual who serves, or attempts to serve, any writ or legal process for any court of Rhode Island. This does not apply to any city, or town constable nor any authority provided to them by any general or special legislation, notwithstanding the Rhode Island Process Service provisions.


The document is signed by a clerk or faxed signature. Rhode Island Process Service must [A.] contain the court seal and identify both parties, [B.] be addressed to a defendant, and [C.] mention a plaintiff’s attorney’s name and address, or if unrepresented, the plaintiff’s name and address. If the defendant fails to appear and defend within that time frame, a default judgment will be entered against them for the relief sought in the complaint. When a summons is issued, a copy of the complaint may be attached, as long as the Rhode Island Process Service is marked with the name of the court where it was filed.

A waiver must be sent to the defendant in a form prescribed by the court. This means that the court must inform the defendant of the consequences of compliance and a failure to comply with the request and must set forth the date on which the Rhode Island Process Service request is sent. For a waiver, the defendant must be provided a reasonable period to return the waiver, between thirty or sixty days, depending on whether the defendant is addressed outside of the United States. It is mandatory that, unless good reason is proved, the court charges a defendant in the United States who refuses to comply with a plaintiff’s request for waiver of the costs of Rhode Island Process Service incurred as a result of the refusal to comply.

To avoid having to serve an answer on a defendant who promptly submits a waiver of service, the plaintiff may defer serving an answer until sixty days after that date, or ninety days if the defendant is located outside of the United States.

When serving summonses and complaints, they must be done so jointly. The plaintiff is responsible for providing the Rhode Island Process Service provider with the appropriate copies.  A summons and complaint may be served on an individual who has not signed a waiver and who is not an incompetent person by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the individual personally or by leaving copies of the summons and complaint at the individual’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion who is currently residing therein, or by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive Rhode Island Process Service. 


Suppose one is serving papers on a private corporation, domestic or foreign. In that case, they can do so by delivering the summons and complaint to an officer, managing or general agent, or by leaving a copy of the summons and complaint with an employee of the corporation, or by delivering the summons and complaint to an agent authorized to receive Rhode Island Process Service. Rhode Island Process Service can also be done by handing over a copy of the summons and complaints to either the attorney general or a deputy attorney general. The state may also be served to present a copy of the summons and complaint to an officer, director, or management of a public business, body, or authority.


It is possible to serve legal documents on someone or a foreign business outside the state when they are subject to the jurisdiction of the state’s courts. An individual can be served with the summons and complaint by having a disinterested third party personally deliver Rhode Island Process Service to them, or they can be served with the summons and complaint by having a third party send it to them via registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested, or by any other method ordered by the court to provide them with notice of the action and enough time to prepare their defense.

No waiver is required to serve anybody other than a minor or an incompetent person in a country outside the United States. There are two ways to serve notice: [A.] by any internationally agreed means reasonably calculated to give notice; or [B.] if there are no internationally agreed means or if the applicable international agreement allows other means of service. 

If permitted by the law of the foreign country, delivery to the individual personally of a copy of the summons and the complaint; or any form of mail requiring a signed receipt to be addressed and dispensed, to be addressed and dispensed, to be delivered and signed, to be addressed and dispensed, to be delivered and signed, to be addressed and dispensed.

how to serve legal papers BY PUBLICATION

When another approved means of Rhode Island Process Service cannot be used to provide full service in the circumstances stated, the court may order Rhode Island Process Service by publishing an action notice in one or more newspapers in the form and for the duration specified by the court. If legislation explicitly states that Rhode Island Process Service via a publication is permitted, the form and mode of publication must be in accordance with that provision.

It is the responsibility of the person doing service, if Rhode Island Process Service is not waived, to provide proof of service on the original process or a document and promptly submit it to the plaintiff’s attorney. Affidavits are required whenever Rhode Island Process Service is performed by a person other than a sheriff. Such receipts will be attached to the procedure when they are returned. The evidence of Rhode Island Process Service must be filed with the court by the plaintiff’s counsel within the period in which the person served must reply to the process. The validity of the service will not be affected if evidence of Rhode Island Process Service is not provided.

The court has the power to change any Rhode Island Process Service or evidence of service at any time. On any terms, it deems appropriate unless it is evident that serious harm will be caused to the person against whom the Rhode Island Process Service was issued.

In cases where service of summons and complaint is not made within a hundred and twenty days of the commencement of the action and the party whose Rhode Island Process Service was required cannot show good cause why such service was not made within that period, the action may be dismissed as to that defendant without prejudice on the court’s initiative with notice to that party or upon motion.

In order to begin any action, the trustee procedure and attachment are available to the extent and in the manner authorized by law. It is required that the clerk of court signs and seals the writ of attachment and that Rhode Island Process Service includes the name of the court and the parties and the trustee, if applicable, as well as a date of commencement of the action. The writ is directed to sheriffs or their deputies or other officers authorized by law to serve the Rhode Island Process Service and instructs them to attach the defendant’s goods or estate in accordance with its value.

The clerk may supply the individual with a blank writ of attachment, which one can fill out and submit to the court with a motion for its issue. Only if there is a reasonable chance that the plaintiff will win the case will the request be granted. The plaintiff must be given security in the amount requested by the court, as well as interest and expenses, in order to satisfy the judgment. An ex-parte motion will not be allowed here. The issue of an attachment writ may necessitate the provision of security. 

The proposed attachment writ, motion for the writ, a notice of hearing, and an attorney’s copy of the motion must all be sent to the officer doing service by the plaintiff’s counsel. A copy of the proposed writ of attachment and the motion for its issue, together with notice of hearing, should be served on the defendant along with the summons and complaints. An attachment must be made after the summons and complaint have been served.

In the same way that an initial claim may be attached, a counterclaim, a cross-claim, or a third-party complaint can be attached as well.


In order to ensure the proper enforcement of subpoenas, Rhode Island Process Service must be issued by a clerk of court or a notary public or other officer authorized by statute. The subpoenas must state the name of the court and the title of the action. They must command each person to attend and give testimony or to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated documents or tangible things in the person’s custody or control at the time and location specified. A command can produce evidence or allow the inspection to be issued with a command to appear at a trial, hearing, or deposition.

It is possible for the sheriff, a deputy, a constable, or any other person who is not a party to the proceedings and is at least eighteen years old to serve a subpoena on a witness. The individual mentioned in the subpoena will be served with a copy of the subpoena. Fees for one day of service and the legal mileage allowance might be paid to a person if their presence is required. Fees and travel are not required when the subpoena is issued on behalf of the state or an official or agency. Each party must be supplied with notice of any required production of documents and items or examination of premises prior to trial. An order to provide evidence may be served at any location in the state.

The safety of those who have been subpoenaed is a major concern.  Subpoenas should be served by parties or attorneys who will make reasonable efforts to avoid placing an excessive hardship on the person receiving the subpoena. A suitable consequence, including but not limited to lost wages and a fair attorney’s fee, may be imposed by the court issuing the subpoena on the party or attorney who fails to comply with this responsibility.

In the case of deposition, hearing, or trial, a person ordered to produce and allow inspection and copying of specified books or papers, documents, or physical goods, or examination of premises, need not attend in person at the location of production or inspection. The party or attorney named in the subpoena may serve a written objection on the person commanded to produce and permit inspection and copying within fourteen days after service of the subpoena or before the time specified for compliance if such time is less than fourteen days after Rhode Island Process Service of the subpoena. If an objection is lodged, the party serving the subpoena should not be permitted to view and copy the documents or investigate the premises unless the subpoena was issued by the court. A party issuing a subpoena may seek an order compelling production at any time, even if an objection has been raised. Any non-party or officer of a party may be protected against substantial costs arising from the examination and copying mandated by such an order to compel production.

The court that issued the subpoena may quash or amend the subpoena if it: [A.] fails to give a reasonable time for compliance; [B.] requires disclosure of privileged or other protected materials and no exceptions or waivers apply, and [C.] subjects a person to an unreasonable burden on the timely motion.

The court may protect the person affected by the subpoena, quash or modify the subpoena if it requires the disclosure of a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial data. The court may also do so if the subpoena requires the disclosure of unretained expert opinion or information that does not describe specific events or occurrences in dispute and which resulted from the expert’s study made not at the request of any party.

Anyone who fails to comply with a subpoena filed on them may be held in contempt of court by the judge in charge of the case.

how to domesticate an OUT-OF-STATE SUBPOENA in Rhode island

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

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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for assistance serving legal papers in rhode island

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. Except for sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and those authorized for such service under this chapter or other individuals authorized by law or by the rule of court.

2. The action must continue as if a summons and complaint had been served when the plaintiff filed the waiver with the court; no evidence of service will be needed.

3. It is also possible to serve copies of the summons and complaint to the incompetent person and their guardian or conservator if one has already been appointed.

4. There must be strict compliance with the Hague Convention’s requirements for service of process on a foreign firm formed in a country that is a party to it. Cipolla v. Picard Porsche Audi, 946 A.2d 130 (R.I. 1985).

5. Service rendered outside of the jurisdiction of the state Subdivisions (f) and (g) of this rule allow service of summons and complaint outside the state in the following situations: (1) When the interest of a person is brought before the court by attachment or trustee process, or (2) When a pleading demands a judgment that an individual is excluded from a right that is vested or contingent in the state.

6. The claim of privilege or protection as trial preparation materials must be presented explicitly when information subject to a subpoena is withheld. Describe the nature of the papers, messages, or other objects that have not been supplied to the requesting party’s satisfaction so that the claim may be contested.

7. Documents that must be produced in response to a subpoena must be produced in the manner in which they are normally preserved in the course of business or organized and labeled in accordance with the categories requested


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