HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS

Department of Regulatory Affairs

Undisputed Legal | District of Columbia Process Service 

The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is the organization responsible for issuing licenses and permits on behalf of the local government. The District of Columbia Council is in charge of overseeing its operations, which are delegated to a director chosen by the mayor, which seems to be the case with other DC cabinet-style directorates and agencies.

This department is tasked with safeguarding residents’ health, safety, economic interests as well as the quality of life by issuing licenses, inspecting buildings to ensure they meet safety standards, enforcing building and housing codes, and managing land use and development in the District of Columbia. The DCRA also provides consumer education and advocacy services.

BACKGROUND

DCRA is the regulatory body for the District of Columbia. Building inspections and regulations are overseen by DCRA, which licenses professionals and companies, as well as inspects and controls construction and housing activity. With respect to the District’s commercial operations, DCRA controls the use of land and buildings for various purposes. Consequently, the organization also supervises historic preservation enforcement, rental housing, and real estate, and occupational and professional behavior. When companies or individuals break District laws, the Department takes legal action. It also attempts to educate the public about unlawful, misleading, and unfair commercial practices to help prevent them from happening.

The District of Columbia Regulatory Authority (DCRA) protects residents, businesses, and visitors’ economic and quality of life interests by issuing permits, inspecting, and enforcing building and safety codes; it also oversees land use and development regulations, as well as providing consumer education and advocacy services.

DCRA is divided into the six divisions [A.]  Business and Professional Licensing Administration (BPLA) and is responsible for issuing and enforcing licensing and regulatory implications across these categories [B.] Inspection & Compliance which conducts Construction Inspections, Housing Code & Property Management Inspections, Illegal Construction Investigations and also certifies Third-Party Agencies to conduct construction inspections on the DCRA’s  behalf, [C.] Permit Operations Division responsible for reviewing applications for and issuing Building Permits, Supplemental (Trades) Permits, Certificates of Occupancy, and Home Occupation Permits, [D.] Regulatory Enforcement Administration responsible  to identify and account for unoccupied property, and conduct inspections of residential housing complaints that violate DC Housing code regulation, [E.] Surveyors wherein the Office of the Surveyor maintains the legal records of all land plants and subdivisions of private and District government property within the District of Columbia. The existing records cover a period of more than two centuries and [F.] Zoning Administration reviews applications for conformation with DC Zoning Regulations, under Title 11 DCMR.

The current head of the agency is Ernest Chrappah, who was appointed in November of last year. 

WHAT DOES THE DCRA DO 

The Corporations Division of DCRA is the District of Columbia’s Office of the Corporate Registrar. In the District of Columbia, the Corporations Division registers all companies that do business there, whether they are domestic (based in DC) or international (established outside DC). At the beginning of the regulatory compliance process for a company. In order to get a business license or permit, a company must first register with the District of Columbia as a non-profit organization for purposes of the District of Columbia Process Service.

Users must register with the Superintendent of Corporations Division of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs via CorpOnline if they want to do business in the District of Columbia as a nonprofit or for-profit corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership, or limited liability partnership in accordance with District of Columbia Process Service.

Users must additionally register the trade name with the Superintendent of Corporations of the Corporations Division of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in addition to the corporation’s records itself (or DBA “doing business as”) in order to comply with the District of Columbia Process Service. In order to utilize the trade name, all registered and unregistered organizations must complete the District of Columbia Process Service trade name registration form. This registration is needed for all kinds of organizations that use the trade name (LLCs, companies, etc.) according to the District of Columbia Process Service.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs‘ Superintendent of Corporations Division also serves as the Mayor’s Agent for District of Columbia Process Service for businesses that have failed to maintain an agent for District of Columbia Process Service who is in the District or are currently operating in the District and are in default of their legal obligations.

HOW TO SERVE PROCESS ON THE DCRA

For companies that have ceased to exist or fail to keep a local agent for District of Columbia Process Service or are still in operation, the Corporations Division Program Manager functions as the Mayor’s Agent for Service of Process. Service of Process is a legal procedure in which legal orders, requests, notifications, or other court-related documents are served on a person or entity as per the District of Columbia Process Service.

In accordance with Mayor’s Order 2009-65 of April 24th, 2009, the Superintendent of Corporations at the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is authorized to conduct District of Columbia Process Service on behalf of the Mayor. If the registered agent of the domestic or international filing entity is known, then to District of Columbia Process Service should be made on that agency. Non-profit and for-profit corporations as well as limited liability companies, partnerships, and trusts are examples of filing entities. Cooperative associations and statutory trusts are other examples of filing entities that should comply with to District of Columbia Process Service.

In the District of Columbia, to District of Columbia Process Service may be sent or delivered to the DCRA Superintendent of Corporations, who can serve in place of the Registered Agent for any entities that [A.] represented entity failed to appoint or maintain a registered agent in the District; or [B.] represented entity’s registered agent in the District cannot with reasonable diligence be found; [C.] the company is not registered but operating within the District of Columbia.

The Superintendent of Corporations can accept all domestic and foreign filing entities. Serving the Superintendent of Corporations would require [A.] submitting two copies of documents for to District of Columbia Process Service (legal orders, demands, notices, affidavit of service on a corporation, etc.) that have been filed with the court; [B.] completing form GN-6 Service of Process Action Form and [C.] including payment for to District of Columbia Process Service filing.

REQUISITE PROOF OF SERVICE

Once the Superintendent of Corporations has been served, the corporation may request a certificate of service in accordance with the District of Columbia Process Service. However, it is necessary to specifically reach out to the Corporations division in order to confirm that the District of Columbia Process Service has been completed before requesting a certificate of service. This is because the certificate cost is in addition to the fee paid for accepting District of Columbia Process Service and is equal to that fee.

If the District of Columbia Process Service is to be done via mail, the District of Columbia Process Service must be specifically addressed to the Superintendent of Corporations at the Business and Professional Licensing Administration Corporations Division. It is necessary to email a copy of the mail-in District of Columbia Process Service to the specific email address allotted to the Corporations division. However, it is possible for individuals in the Department to accept personal service, although they may be charged the expedited fee for the same-day service. While walk-in service was typically the norm with the Corporation, because of March 2020’s coronavirus outbreak, walk-in service is currently not available.

ACCEPTABLE METHODS OF SERVICE OF PROCESS

Service of the Complaint and Summons must be completed according to the requirements of Rule 4 of the Superior Court Rules of  Civil  Procedure.        

District of Columbia Process Service upon an individual must be done by any person who is not a party to the lawsuit and is at least eighteen years old by delivering a copy of the Complaint and Summons to the Defendant personally. It may also be done by leaving a  copy of the  Complaint and  Summons at the  Defendant’s house or place residence with a  person of suitable age and discretion who is currently residing in the Defendant’s house or residence.  Any person who is not a party to the lawsuit and is at least eighteen years old may deliver a copy of the Complaint and Summons to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process for the Defendant. 

For District of Columbia Process Service upon corporations and associations, District of Columbia Process Service can be done by any person who is not a party to the lawsuit and is at least eighteen years old by delivering a copy of the Complaint and  Summons to an officer or a  managing or general agent of the  Defendant corporation or business entity,  or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive  District of Columbia Process Service.    

This may also be achieved by mailing a  copy of the  Complaint and  Summons by registered or certified mail,  return receipt requested to an officer or a managing or general agent of the Defendant corporation or business entity, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive  District of Columbia Process Service.    

District of Columbia Process Service may also be achieved by delivering  two  copies  of  the  Complaint  and  Summons  to  the  Superintendent  of  Corporations  at  the  District  of  Columbia  Department  of  Consumer  and  Regulatory  Affairs  after  a  diligent  effort  has  been  made  to  serve  the  Defendant  and  investigation  has  revealed  that  [A.]  the  attempt  to  serve  the  registered  agent  on  record  is  unsuccessful  (mail  returned,  etc.),   [B.] the  organization’s  status  is  revoked,  [C.] the  registered agent has resigned and no new agent was appointed, or [D.] the company is not registered but operating  within  the  District  of  Columbia

A corporation or other business entity (LLC, LLP, partnership, etc) conducting business in the District of Columbia should have a  registered agent who is responsible for accepting  District of Columbia Process Service for Defendant.    If Defendant has a registered agent on record, that agent should be served with the Complaint and Summons. However, in absence of this registered agent, the Superintendent takes up this role.

Service Upon the District of Columbia itself may be done by providing service upon an officer or agency, or other government entities. Process service can be done any person who is not a party to the lawsuit and is at least eighteen years old by delivering a copy of the Complaint and  Summons to the  Mayor of the  District of  Columbia  (or designee)  and the  Corporation  Counsel of the  District of  Columbia  (or designee).    The  Mayor and  Corporation  Counsel may each designate an employee for receipt of  District of Columbia Process Service by filing a  written notice with the  Clerk of the  Court.   

Individuals may also contact the DCRA at their telephonic address or their website. If a corporation or business entity (LLC, LLP, Partnership, etc.) conducting business in the District of Columbia fails to maintain a  registered agent of the corporation is not registered with  DCRA,  then the individual may complete  District of Columbia Process Service by serving the Superintendent of Corporations. 

The Superintendent of Corporations will accept District of Columbia Process Service if a diligent effort has been made to serve the Defendant and investigation has revealed that (the attempt to serve the registered agent on record is unsuccessful (mail returned, etc.), or the organization’s status has been revoked, the registered agent has resigned and no new agent was appointed, or the company is not registered but operating within the District of Columbia.  

For more information on serving legal papers, contact Undisputed Legal our District of Columbia Process Service department at (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.

Sources

1. BPLA consist of eight (8) divisions: Business Licensing, Corporations, Consumer Protection, Professional Licensing, Regulatory Investigations, Small Business Resource Center, Vending & Special Events, and Weights & Measures

2. D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 11 § 3100 3100.1

The Board of Zoning Adjustment shall have original jurisdiction to grant variances under § 3103 and special exceptions under § 3104, and to exercise all other powers authorized by the Zoning Act of 1938, approved June 20, 1938 (52 Stat. 797, as amended, D.C. Official Code §§ 6-641.01 to 6-641.15 (formerly codified at D.C. Code §§ 5-413 to 5-432 (1994 Repl. & 1999 Supp.))) (the ‘Zoning Act’).

3100.2

The Board, pursuant to the Zoning Act, shall also hear and decide appeals where it is alleged by the appellant that there is an error in any order, requirement, decision, determination, or refusal made by any administrative officer or body, including the Mayor, in the administration or enforcement of the Zoning Regulations, Title 11 DCMR

3. The last permanent head of the agency was Melinda Bolling. She has previously worked as an interim director as well as general counsel for the organization. Rabbiah Sabbakhan served as an acting director prior to Ms. Bolling’s arrival. Former DCRA director Nicholas A. Majett, a Washington lawyer and civil servant, served as the department’s deputy director from 2006 until 2010 when Rabbiah Sabbakhan took over.

4. The DCRA issues or maintains the following:

Building permits

Zoning regulations/certificates of occupancy

Construction codes

Corporate registration

Business licensing

Professional licensing

Construction inspections

Housing Code inspections

Vacant property regulation

5.‘Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.’ DCRA, https://corponline.dcra.dc.gov/Home.aspx/Landing.

6. ‘Service of Process – Definition: DCBC.’ Service of Process – Definition | DCBC, https://business.dc.gov/definition/1382. 

7. Service of Process Action Form.Form GN-6, Version 3, November 2014. This form can only be used to serve the defendant –domestic or foreign filing entity if a plaintiff or his representative have exhausted all the means to serve domestic or foreign filing entity as prescribed under D.C. Code § 29-104.12

8. Mail

Superintendent of Corporations,

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Business and Professional Licensing Administration
Corporations Division
Wells Fargo Bank
7175 Columbia Gateway Drive
Lockbox # 92300
Columbia, MD 21046

9. It is necessary to email a copy of the mail-in service of process to the following email box – dcra.corp@dc.gov.

10. DCRA Service Hours

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Thursday: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Payment Information

When filing by mail, checks must be made payable to ‘DC Treasurer’. For walk-in customers, payment can be made by cash, Visa/Master Card, check, or money order.

11. Walk-In (Not Available as of March 2020)

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations Division
Business License Center
1100 4th Street, SW
2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20024

12. Rule 4. Summons

(c) Service.

(1) In General. A summons must be served with a copy of the complaint. The plaintiff is responsible for having the summons and complaint served within the time allowed by Rule 4(m) and must furnish the necessary copies to the person who makes service.

(2) By Whom. Any person who is at least 18 years old and not a party may serve a summons and complaint.

(3) By a Marshal or Someone Specially Appointed. At the plaintiff’s request, the court may order that service be made by a United States marshal or deputy marshal or by a person specially appointed by the court. The court must so order if the plaintiff is authorized to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915 or as a seaman under 28 U.S.C. §1916.

(d) Waiving Service.

(1) Requesting a Waiver. An individual, corporation, or association that is subject to service under Rule 4(e)(f), or (h) has a duty to avoid unnecessary expenses of serving the summons. The plaintiff may notify such a defendant that an action has been commenced and request that the defendant waive service of a summons. The notice and request must:

(A) be in writing and be addressed:

(i) to the individual defendant; or

(ii) for a defendant subject to service under Rule 4(h), to an officer, a managing or general agent, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process;

(B) name the court where the complaint was filed;

(C) be accompanied by a copy of the complaint, 2 copies of the waiver form appended to this Rule 4, and a prepaid means for returning the form;

(D) inform the defendant, using the form appended to this Rule 4, of the consequences of waiving and not waiving service;

(E) state the date when the request is sent;

(F) give the defendant a reasonable time of at least 30 days after the request was sent—or at least 60 days if sent to the defendant outside any judicial district of the United States—to return the waiver; and

(G) be sent by first-class mail or other reliable means.

(2) Failure to Waive. If a defendant located within the United States fails, without good cause, to sign and return a waiver requested by a plaintiff located within the United States, the court must impose on the defendant:

(A) the expenses later incurred in making service; and

(B) the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, of any motion required to collect those service expenses.

(3) Time to Answer After a Waiver. A defendant who, before being served with process, timely returns a waiver need not serve an answer to the complaint until 60 days after the request was sent—or until 90 days after it was sent to the defendant outside any judicial district of the United States.

(4) Results of Filing a Waiver. When the plaintiff files a waiver, proof of service is not required, and these rules 

13. By mailing a  copy of the  Complaint and  Summons to Defendant by registered or certified mail,  return receipt requested.  

By mailing a copy of the Complaint and Summons by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the Defendant, together  with  two  copies  of  a  Notice  and  Acknowledgment    Form  1-A  and  a  return  envelope,  postage  prepaid, addressed to the sender

14. Service may also be done By mailing a copy of the Complaint and Summons by first-class mail, postage prepaid, together with two copies of a Notice and Acknowledgment – Form 1-A and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender to an officer or a managing or general agent of the Defendant corporation or business entity, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.

15. DCRA may be contacted at (202) 442-4400

16. www.dcra.dc.gov.  

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