Disclaimer: Due to the law’s rapidly changing nature, there will be times when the material on this site will not be current. It is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. It should not be considered comprehensive or exhaustive and is not a substitute for advice from your attorney. We make no express or implied warranty as to the material’s accuracy, reliability, completeness, timeliness, or appropriateness for a particular purpose, including applicability to your jurisdiction or circumstances. We assume no liability whatsoever for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages resulting from your reliance on this material; you do so at your own risk. Seek the advice of an attorney. Comments, corrections, or suggestions should be directed to email@example.com. The information listed below may have been amended. For updated process serving legislation, please visit the Illinois State Legislature website.
Illinois Process Service Licensing Requirements. A sheriff shall serve the process, or if the sheriff is disqualified, by a coroner of some county of the State. A county sheriff with a population of less than 2,000,000 may employ civilian personnel to serve the process. In counties with a population of less than 2,000,000, the process may be served, without a special appointment, by a person who is licensed or registered as a private detective under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004 or by a registered employee of a private detective agency certified under that Act. A private detective or licensed employee must supply the sheriff of any county in which he serves process with a copy of his license or certificate; however, the failure of a person to supply the copy shall not impair the validity of the process served by the person. In its discretion upon motion, the court may order service to be made by a private person over 18 years of age and not a party to the action. A sheriff or coroner doesn’t need to make service of the county in which service is made. If served or sought to be served by a sheriff or coroner, he or she shall endorse his or her return thereon, and if by a private person, the return shall be by affidavit.
There is no statewide licensing law in Illinois; however, a person licensed in Illinois as a “private detective” may serve the original process in all counties except for Cook County without a special appointment. For PIs to serve in Cook County, the court may appoint a “private detective agency” as a special process server instead of an individual upon motion and at its discretion. Service doesn’t need to be made only by a sheriff or PI. Private persons over the age of 18, upon motion, may be appointed by the court to serve the original process. [Illinois Compiled Statutes §5/2-202]
Illinois Civil Procedure Note. Whoever knowingly resists or obstructs the authorized service or execution of any civil or criminal process or order of any court commits a Class B misdemeanor. [Illinois Compiled Statutes: Criminal Offenses, Criminal Cod of 1961. (720 ILCS 5/31-3) Sec 31-3. Obstructing service of process]
Chapter 735. Civil Procedure
735 ILCS 5/2-201. Commencement of actions – Forms of process.
(a) Every action, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute, shall be commenced by the filing of a complaint. The clerk shall issue summons upon request of the plaintiff. The form and substance of the summons, all other processes, and the issuance of alias process, and the service of copies of pleadings shall be according to rules.
(b) One or more duplicate original summonses may be issued, marked “First Duplicate,” “Second Duplicate,” etc., as the case may be, whenever it will facilitate the service of summons in any one or more counties, including the county of venue.
735 ILCS 5/2-202. Persons authorized to serve process; Place of service; Failure to make a return.
(a) Process shall be served by a sheriff, or if the sheriff is disqualified, by a coroner of some county of the State. A county sheriff with a population of less than 1,000,000 may employ civilian personnel to serve the process. In counties with a population of less than 1,000,000, the process may be served, without a special appointment, by a person who is licensed or registered as a private detective under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 1993 or by a registered employee of a private detective agency certified under that Act. A private detective or licensed employee must supply the sheriff of any county in which he serves process with a copy of his license or certificate; however, the failure of a person to supply the copy shall not impair the validity of the process served by the person. In its discretion upon motion, the court may order service to be made by a private person over 18 years of age and not a party to the action. A sheriff or coroner doesn’t need to make service of the county in which service is made. If served or sought to be served by a sheriff or coroner, he or she shall endorse his or her return thereon, and if by a private person, the return shall be by affidavit.
(a – 5) Upon motion and at its discretion, the court may appoint as a special process server a private detective agency certified under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 1993. Under the appointment, any employee of the private detective agency registered under that Act may serve the process. The motion and appointment order must contain the number of the certificate issued to the private detective agency by the Department of Professional Regulation under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 1993.
(b) Summons may be served upon the defendants wherever they may be found in the State by any person authorized to serve process. An officer may serve summons in his or her official capacity outside his or her county, but fees for mileage outside the officer’s county cannot be taxed as costs. The person serving the process in a foreign county may make a return by mail.
(c) If any sheriff, coroner, or another person to whom any process is delivered, neglects or refuses to make a return of the same, the plaintiff may petition the court to enter a rule requiring the sheriff, coroner, or another person, to make a return of the process on a day to be fixed by the court, or to show cause on that day why that person should not be attached for contempt of the court. The plaintiff shall then cause a written notice of the rule to be served on the sheriff, coroner, or another person. If good and sufficient cause be not shown to excuse the officer or other person, the court shall adjudge him or her guilty of contempt and shall punish as in other cases of contempt.
(d) If a sheriff or coroner serves the process, the court may tax the sheriff’s fee or coroner as costs in the proceeding. If a private person or entity serves the process, the court may establish a fee and tax such fee as costs in the proceedings.
(e) In addition to the powers stated in Section 8.1a of the Housing Authorities Act, in counties with a population of 3,000,000 or more inhabitants, members of a housing authority police force may serve process for forcible entry and detainer actions commenced by that housing authority. They may execute orders of possession for that housing authority.
(f) In counties with a population of 3,000,000 or more, the process may be served, with the special appointment by the court, by a private process server or a law enforcement agency other than the county sheriff in proceedings instituted under the Forcible Entry and Detainer Article of this Code as a result of a lessor or lessor’s assignee declaring a lease void under Section 11 of the Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act.
1. Illinois statute permitting process to be served “either by a sheriff or by a disinterested person appointed by the court” did not require the appointment of process server by Illinois court, and permitted service of process in Illinois by private investigator specially appointed to serve process by Florida Circuit Court. Takiff v. Takiff, 683 So.2d 595 (1996).
2. the fact that a lawsuit was filed in DuPage County, whose population is less than 1 million so that service by a private detective is permitted, did not authorize service of process on the defendant in Cook County by a private detective. Schorsch v. Fireside Chrysler-Plymouth 527 N.E.2d 693 (1988); appeal denied, 535 N.E.2d 411.
3. Service of process within the state by a private individual not appointed to do so by the court is invalid. Lake County v. X-Po Sec. Police Service, Inc. 327 N.E.2d 96 (1975).
735 ILCS 5/2-203. Service on individuals.
(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided, service of summons upon an individual defendant shall be made
(1) by leaving a copy of the summons with the defendant personally,
(2) by leaving a copy at the defendant’s usual place of abode, with some person of the family or a person residing there, of the age of 13 years or upwards, and informing that person of the contents of the summons, provided the officer or other person making service shall also send a copy of the summons in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid, addressed to the defendant at his or her usual place of abode, or
(3) as provided in Section 1-2-9.2 of the Illinois Municipal Code concerning a violation of an ordinance governing parking or standing of vehicles in cities with a population over 500,000. The certificate of the officer or affidavit of the person he or she has sent the copy in pursuance of this Section is evidence that he or she has done so.
(b) The officer, in his or her certificate or a record filed and maintained in the Sheriff’s office, or other person doing service, in his or her affidavit or a record filed and maintained in his or her employer’s office, shall:
(1) identify as to sex, race, and approximate age the defendant or other person with whom the summons was left and
(2) state the place where (whenever possible in terms of an exact street address) and the date and time of the day when the summons was left with the defendant or other person.
(c) Any person who knowingly sets forth in the certificate or affidavit any false statement shall be liable in civil contempt. When the court holds a person in civil contempt under this Section, it shall award such damages as it determines to be. When a private attorney prosecutes the contempt, it may award reasonable attorney’s fees. (Source: P.A. 88-340.)
1. Return of officer or other authorized person making service of summons on the defendant by delivering a copy to another person must show strict compliance with every requirement of the statute authorizing substituted service. Dec and Aque v. Manning. 618 N.E.2d 367 (1993); appeal denied 624 N.E.2d 805.
2. Under this paragraph, strict adherence to technical requirements is necessary when substituted service of process is attempted upon a nonresident of Illinois. Taylor v. Landsman, 422 N.E.2d 403 (1981); rehearing denied, 425 N.E.2d 218.
735 ILCS 5/2-203.1. Service by special order of the court. If service upon an individual defendant is impractical under items (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of Section 2-203, the plaintiff may move, without notice, that the court enter an order directing a comparable method of service. The motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating the nature and extent of the investigation made to determine the whereabouts of the defendant and the reasons why service is impractical under items (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of Section 2-203, including a specific statement showing that a diligent inquiry as to the location of the individual defendant was made and reasonable efforts to make service have been unsuccessful. The court may order service to be made in any manner consistent with due process. (Source: P.A. 87-1165.)
735 ILCS 5/2-204. Service on private corporations. A private corporation may be served (1) by leaving a copy of the process with its registered agent, or any officer or agent of the corporation found anywhere in the State, or (2) in any other manner now or hereafter permitted by law. A private corporation may also be notified by publication and mail-like manner and with like effect as individuals.
(Source: P.A. 83-707.)
735 ILCS 5/2-205. Service on partnership and partners.
(a) A partnership sued in its firm name may be served by leaving a copy of the process with any partner personally or with any agent of the partnership found anywhere in the State. A partnership sued in its firm name may also be notified by publication and mail in like manner and with like effect as individuals.
(b) When a personal judgment is sought against a known partner for a partnership liability, the partner may be served (1) in any manner provided for service on individuals or (2) by leaving a copy of the summons for him or her with any other partner and mailing a copy of the summons in a sealed envelope with postage prepaid, addressed to the partner against whom the judgment is sought at his or her usual place of abode as shown by an affidavit filed in the cause. The officer’s certificate or the affidavit of the other person doing service that he or she has mailed the copy in pursuance of this section is evidence that he or she has done so. Service on a nonresident partner against whom a personal judgment is sought may be made by leaving a copy with any other partner and mailing, as provided herein, only if the cause of action sued is a partnership liability arising out of the transaction of business within the State.
(c) When a personal judgment is sought against an unknown owner in action authorized under Section 6 of “An Act about the use of an assumed name in the conduct or transaction of business in this State,” approved July 17, 1941, as amended, service may be made by leaving a copy of the summons with an agent of the business and publishing notice in the manner provided by Section 2-206 of this Act. (Source: P.A. 83-707.)
735 ILCS 5/2-205.1. Service on voluntary unincorporated associations. A voluntary unincorporated association sued in its own name may be served by leaving a copy of the process with any officer of the association personally or leaving a copy of the process at the office of the association with an agent of the association. A voluntary unincorporated association sued in its own name may also be notified by publication and mail-like manner and with like effect as individuals. (Source: P.A. 83-901.)
735 ILCS 5/2-208. Personal service outside State.
(a) Personal service of summons may be made upon any party outside the State. If upon a citizen or resident of this State or upon a person who has submitted to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State, it shall have the force and effect of personal service of summons within this State; otherwise, it shall have the force and effect of service by publication.
(b) The summons’ service shall be made in like manner as service within this State, by any person over 18 years of age not a party to the action. No order of the court is required. An affidavit of the server shall be filed stating the time, manner, and place of service. The court may consider the affidavit, or any other competent proof, in determining whether service has been properly made.
(c) No default shall be entered until the expiration of at least 30 days after service. A default judgment entered on such service may be set aside only on a showing which would be timely and sufficient to set aside a default judgment entered on personal service within this State. (Source: P.A. 82-280.)
Attempted service by mail to Taiwanese corporations in Taiwan and its sales representative in Indiana was insufficient; no federal statute authorized Taiwanese corporations’ territorial service. According to Illinois statutory law, parties located outside of the forum state had to be personally served. Electronic Signals Products, Inc., v. Eastern Electronic Co. Ltd., 783 F.Supp. 1135 (N.D. Ill. 1992).
735 ILCS 5/2-209. Act submitting to jurisdiction – Process.
(a) Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this State, who in person or through an agent does any of the acts hereinafter enumerated, thereby submits such person, and, if an individual, his or her personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State as to any cause of action arising from the doing of any of such acts:
(1) The transaction of any business within this State;
(2) The commission of a tortious act within this State;
(3) The ownership, use, or possession of any real estate situated in this State;
(4) Contracting to insure any person, property, or risk located within this State at the time of contracting;
(5) Concerning actions of dissolution of marriage, declaration of invalidity of marriage and legal separation, the maintenance in this State of a matrimonial domicile at the time this cause of action arose or the commission in this State of any act giving rise to the cause of action;
(6) Concerning actions brought under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, as now or hereafter amended, the performance of an act of sexual intercourse within this State during the possible period of conception;
(7) The making or performance of any contract or promise substantially connected with this State;
(8) The performance of sexual intercourse within this State which is claimed to have resulted in the conception of a child who resides in this State;
(9) The failure to support a child, spouse, or former spouse who has continued to reside in this State since the person either formerly resided with them in this State or directed them to reside in this State;
(10) The acquisition of ownership, possession or control of any asset or thing of value present within this State when ownership, possession or control was acquired;
(11) The breach of any fiduciary duty within this State;
(12) The performance of duties as a director or officer of a corporation organized under the laws of this State or having its principal place of business within this State;
(13) The ownership of an interest in any trust administered within this State; or
(14) The exercise of powers granted under the authority of this State as a fiduciary.
(b) A court may exercise jurisdiction in any action arising within or without this State against any person who:
(1) Is a natural person present within this State when served;
(2) Is a natural person domiciled or resident within this State when the cause of action arose, the action was commenced, or process was served;
(3) Is a corporation organized under the laws of this State; or
(4) Is a natural person or corporation doing business within this State.
(c) A court may also exercise jurisdiction on any other basis now or hereafter permitted by the Illinois Constitution and the United States Constitution.
(d) Service of process upon any person who is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State, as provided in this Section, may be made by personally serving the summons upon the defendant outside this State, as provided in this Act, with the same force and effect as though summons had been personally served within this State.
(e) Service of process upon any person who resides or whose business address is outside the United States and who is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State, as provided in this Section, in any action based upon product liability may be made by serving a copy of the summons with a copy of the complaint attached upon the Secretary of State. The summons shall be accompanied by a $5 fee payable to the Secretary of State. The plaintiff shall forthwith mail a copy of the summons, upon which the date of service upon the Secretary is clearly shown, together with a copy of the complaint to the defendant at his or her last known place of residence or business address. Plaintiff shall file with the circuit clerk an affidavit of the plaintiff or his or her attorney stating the last known place of residence or the last known business address of the defendant and a certificate of mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant at such address as required by this subsection (e). The mailing certificate shall be prima facie evidence that the plaintiff or his or her attorney mailed a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant as required. Service of the summons shall be deemed to have been made upon the defendant on the date it is served upon the Secretary and shall have the same force and effect as though summons had been personally served upon the defendant within this State.
(f) Only causes of action arising from acts enumerated herein may be asserted against a defendant in an action in which jurisdiction over him or her is based upon subsection (a).
(g) Nothing herein contained limits or affects the right to serve any process in any other manner now or hereafter provided by law. (Source: P.A. 86-840.)
735 ILCS 5/2-211. Service on public, municipal, governmental, and quasi-municipal corporations. In actions against public, municipal, governmental or quasi-municipal corporations, a summons may be served by leaving a copy with the chairperson of the county board or county clerk in the case of a county, with the mayor or city clerk in the case of a city, with the president of the board of trustees or village clerk in the case of a village, with the supervisor or town clerk in the case of a town, and with the president or clerk or other officer corresponding thereto in the case of any other public, municipal, governmental or quasi-municipal corporation or body. (Source: P.A. 82-280.)
735 ILCS 5/2-212. Service on the trustee of the corporation or receiver. Any trustee of a corporation or its property or any receiver may be served with a summons (1) in any manner provided for service on individuals or corporations, as is appropriate, or (2) by leaving a copy thereof with any agent in the employ of the trustee or receiver anywhere in the State. The trustee or receiver may also be notified by publication and mail in like manner and with like effect as individuals. (Source: P.A. 82-280.)
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