Navigating the Legal Maze: The Crucial Role and Regulations of Process Servers in the United States

This article will provide guidance on Navigating the Legal Maze: The Crucial Role and Regulations of Process Servers in the United States. Process serving is a part of the legal system of the United States, referring to the delivery of key legal documents like complaints, summons, etc. It refers to the procedure through which notification is provided to the defendant regarding the legal action initiated against them, and it is done to ensure that the personal jurisdiction requirements of the court on the parties are fulfilled. If the defendant ignores further pleadings or fails to participate in the proceedings, the court may find the defendant in default and award relief to the petitioner. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

The server can be [A.] a friend or relative, [B.] a co-worker, [C.] a county sheriff or marshal, [D.] a process server; or [D.] anyone over 18. However, it is necessary to ensure that whoever the server is, they are of age (eighteen years old at least) and are a disinterested party who is not remotely party to the case. The service must then be done so the opposition has enough time to prepare. Finally, the server needs to fill out a proof of service form detailing the report of the service as well as returning said proof in order to file the same with the county clerk in the court. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked.


The job of the process servers in the United States can far extend beyond the service of documents. Loathing a defendant is often tricky, and many defendants are evasive of service against them. Reluctant defendants use various maneuvers to avoid service, and the onus lies upon the process server to locate them. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

Skip tracing is needed to serve someone who doesn’t want to be served. They’ll take steps to avoid this, changing addresses or jobs or just dropping off the grid as much as they possibly can. Service is tough here if it’s for someone whose particulars one does not have. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation

If this happens, a process server intervenes. They’re armed with access to higher-technology services, previous experience performing the skip trace routine, and insider information. Even if their address seems like an internet search away, process servers in the United States are faster and more efficient, often relying on colleagues to pool in resources and locate the individual. Click here for information on How To Overcome Language Barriers in Process Service 

Additionally, a process server knows how to go about skip-tracing legally. It’s challenging to maneuver the mire of federal, local, and state laws, especially with the issues of trespass and privacy, but process servers are trained to be able to work past the same. It must be remembered that trespass is illegal even for process servers, even if the trespass was not meant maliciously. The clash between CPLR and trespass law has historically resulted in the trespass provisions triumphing. In nearly every state, process servers in the United States are restricted from trespassing, which can render service invalid and illegal. Click here for information on How Timelines Are Important in Process Serving.

Furthermore, process servers in the United States are expected to be well-versed in the laws of the relevant area. Delivering the notifications can mean a lot of contingencies. Servers must know what to do if a defendant refuses service or is unavailable. If the process delivery falls short legally, the entire case against the defendant may be dissolved. Without proper service, a suit is impossible. The court must acquire personal jurisdiction over a defendant, which cannot be done without adequate service. Furthermore, service of process is vital in adhering to the Due Process clause of the United States Constitution. The defendant needs a chance to put forth their side of the matter; denying them the same violates fair trial rights. Process service is a practical embodiment of said rights insofar as the defendant needs to know about the complaint against them and needs to be physically present in court for the same. The complaint and summons levied onto the defendant equate to “process.”


Individual requirements to become a process server in the United States vary by each jurisdiction. However, it is common for a process server not to be a party or attorney involved in the case. Additionally, he or she must be 18 years or older. These basic rules are part of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In some federal cases, the court can order service to be made by a United States marshal, a United States deputy marshal, or a person the court has appointed. In state cases, it is common for the sheriff’s department to serve process on the defendant. Professional process servers are also commonly used for this task.

Any individual can be a process server. The main job of the process server is to deliver documents to individuals. This leads process servers to be in close contact with lawyers and other legal services and would require the servers to know about the relevant fields of law since it is their job to furnish the documents while adhering to the state’s laws.

There is no general set of rules for process servers. However, there are local rules set for their qualifications.  The City of New York requires that all individuals looking to serve the five (5) boroughs area (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens) must be licensed through the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. For the areas that require licensing, a Process Server Individual License is required for a person who serves five or more processes in any one year, even if it may be through substituted service. Attorneys admitted to practice in New York State and government employees who serve process as part of their job are exempt from this licensing requirement.

Types of Service

There is an assortment of approaches to serving another party. Not all strategies are accessible in all cases. Any service endeavors require consultation regarding the opposition to ensure that all lawful customs are satisfied. If the administration of service is not conducted appropriately, there is no option to advance with the case, and the purview can be challenged at any time in court.


The main requirements to become a New York City Process server are [A.] a completed basic individual license application and all necessary paperwork, [B.] a background check, [C.] a passport-sized photo, [D.] New York Process Server Bond and [E.] licensing fee.

To become a server in New York, it is necessary to fill in a Basic Individual License Application. The New York City Consumer Affairs Department handles the requirements of process service. There must be actual verifiable identification of the applicant, which may be seen through their  [A.] driver’s license or a non-driver’s license identification issued by a State Department of Motor Vehicles [B.] license or permit issued by a government agency [C.] passport or alien card/green card or [D.]city, state, or Federal employee ID card. The provision of said ID facilitates a background check. A clean record is ideal for a license process server, although a conviction does not immediately prevent an individual from becoming a process server. Furthermore, it is necessary to provide a passport-sized photo.

Purchasing a New York Process Server Bond is an imperative part of the process, aiming to protect the court and clients by functioning essentially like insurance. For individuals, it totals $10,000 and extends up to $100000 for agencies. How much is owed in this bond is also based on credit scores to recoup. Consequently, there must be a proof of bond requirement which could either be [A.] a copy of the surety bond as signed by the applicant with the Department of Consumer Affairs named the Certificate Holder. Your name and address must be the same on all documents, and a copy of the bond receipt stating that the bond has been paid in full or [B.]  a Process Server Individual Trust Fund Enrolment Form and additional Proof of Bond Denials or [C.] Process Server Individual Employee Bond Exemption.

For the Process Server Individual Trust Fund, it must first be understood that this is an option only if the bond cannot be procured. Consequently, proof must be submitted that the individual has applied to at least two different surety bond companies and has been rejected by both. Furthermore, paying the enrolment fee is necessary to be a part of the Trust Fund. This one-time payment is directly transferred to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

The third option is limited to servers already part of an agency. The Process Server Individual, Employee Bond Exemption, is available to employees of a process-serving agency but requires proof of the agency’s bond and the  Process Server Individual Employee Bond Exemption certification. Furthermore, the Department of Consumer Affairs must be notified whenever a process server stops being exclusively bound to service with the agency.

The burden of proving the capacity of process service differs for companies and individuals. Process service agencies must complete the Roster of Process Serving Agencies and notify the Department of Consumer Affairs of any change within five days. On the other hand, individual process servers must take the Process Server Individual exam dealing with the relevant laws required by the area. Without passing this exam, an individual is not qualified to be a process server.

Furthermore, the individual must complete the requisite Electronic Device Certification, Recordkeeping Certification, Child Support Certification Form, and Granting Authority to Act Affirmation applications. Only the applicant must fill out the certifications. If they were to be filed by someone other than the license applicant, the license applicant would have to submit a Granting Authority to Act Affirmation.

After passing the exam, the process server must pay the requisite licensing fees. This includes the license fee itself and a fingerprint processing fee to examine any criminal record that an individual may have. All process servers must have their fingerprints on file.

A process server must maintain a Registry Ledger. This is essentially a log book that holds all records of service by the license. This record must be legible, with corrections made by merely running a straight line through the erring fact rather than obliterating or erasing the material. Furthermore, it is necessary to maintain electronic records in a responsible manner that is impervious to tampering. This would comprise either [A.] entering data in the Department of Consumer Affairs-approved format for Excel spreadsheets, [B.] using a third-party document management system as per guidelines laid down by the Department of Consumer Affairs, or [C.] scanning the log book into a PDF. In case of any contested service, licensed process servers and agencies must report traverse hearings to the Department of Consumer Affairs within ten days of receiving notice. 

New York’s stringent service of process rules ensures that deceitful processes could be held liable. Intentional failure to provide service in the hopes of a false affidavit and, consequently, a default judgment is a crime. The stringent bar to process servers ensures due diligence and the prevention of tactics like sewer service. 


Process servers are guardians of due process in a legal landscape where every detail matters. Navigating through legal complexities and stringent regulations, they ensure that justice is not only served but served correctly. This article guides the intricate world of process serving, shedding light on the crucial role these professionals play in upholding the principles of fairness and justice.

In essence, process servers are the linchpin that ensures the wheels of justice turn smoothly, guaranteeing that every individual can respond to legal actions against them, no matter their circumstances. As we navigate the legal maze, it becomes evident that the work of process servers is not just a procedural formality; it is a cornerstone of the democratic principles that underpin the United States legal system.

Written by: Undisputed Legal Inc.


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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 help you out. We can handle all your process service needs.

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 1.Butler v. Ratner, 662 N.Y.S.2d 69 (City Ct. 1997)

2.Information for Process Server Industry. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from

3. New York General Business Law § 89-cc and Title 6, Rules of the City of New York § 2-233 for requirements

4. Title 6, Rules of the City of New York § 2-236(c).  


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