What is a Process Server?

This article will provide guidance on What is a process server?  The Constitution guarantees the right to due process via serving of legal process. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution allow everyone to be given advance notice of a court summons. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

How Process Service Works

The messenger system of process servers aims to inform persons of their right to due process of law by “serving” them with a notice that specifies the nature of the legal matter in which they are directly involved. Historically, persons were traditionally served with legal documents by the sheriff of their respective county. As American cities grew, it became more difficult for local sheriffs to serve legal papers and handle other matters within their authority. It was felt that a person was needed to ensure the timely and proper service of these documents, and therefore, process servers were established. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case

What is a process server – background

The services of a process server are in high demand for a wide range of purposes, including but not limited to filing court filings, serving legal documents, and retrieving documents. Their primary responsibility is to make sure that the necessary court papers are delivered to the appropriate parties. Upon completion of the service of process, process servers are obligated to provide tangible proof of service. A notarized document called an affidavit of service or evidence of service is provided to the party whose documents were served as proof of delivery. Those tasked with serving legal documents must do so in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they operate as process servers. Each state has its own set of rules for the serving process. Hence each process server may have its method. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

Process servers play a crucial role in society because they guarantee the proper and timely delivery of legal documents. The court cannot decide a matter involving a person who was not lawfully made aware of it due to improper service of process. A lawsuit might be dismissed if it turns out that the service was not completed correctly. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

A process server is an educated expert who delivers court papers to defendants listed in a judicial case. Even though they may play a tiny part, their contribution to the judicial system is essential. A process server is a neutral third party whose role is to personally deliver legal papers to defendants. While doing so, they must preserve records of their service of process that are legally acceptable in court and use suitable paperwork that conforms with local regulations. In order to honestly serve legal documents in any jurisdiction, process servers must first get the appropriate certification, license, and registration from their home state. 


A simple threat to file a lawsuit against another person will not suffice. The correct legal procedure must be followed. Filing a petition or complaint with the court marks the beginning of a lawsuit. In such a case, the court will issue a summons. A defendant is formally notified that legal action has been taken against them and given a copy of the complaint as a summons. Depending on the nature of the litigation and the procedures in the defendant’s jurisdiction, additional papers beyond the warrant may need to be served to the defendant. The defendant is always entitled to receive authentic and correct documentation.

However, service of process must be made on every adult named as a defendant in a case if the complaint lists more than one defendant. Court papers must also be served to corporations, partnerships, counties, cities, and other organizations that may be named in the complaint. Various rules may apply to the serving process depending on who or what is being sued and for what.

Most states do not impose excessive barriers to entry for those seeking to become process servers. A process server must always be an objective third party. However, specific legislation may require otherwise, depending on the rules-laws and jurisdiction. That is a fully grown human being uninterested in the situation. Legal papers cannot be served by either the plaintiff or the defendant, and the person serving the process cannot have any stake in the result of the case. Process servers may need to be state residents or have specific credentials to serve legal documents. It is always essential to adhere to state legislation governing the manner of service, the timeframe during which efforts may be made, and the verification procedures to be used.

Sheriffs and law enforcement authorities may also serve legal documents in several areas. In order to prevent any potential responsibility or other adverse effects on the outcome of your case as a result of a mistake made when the papers were served, it is recommended that you hire a professional process server.


Most states need a proof of service, often called a return of service or, if notarized, an affidavit of service, to be completed after the service of process has been made. The process server must sign the proof of service, essentially taking an oath that service was made. This record includes who was served, what was served, where it was served, and when and how it was served. When this form is completed, the process server assumes full responsibility for the legality of the service of process.

It is hard to put faith in a process server’s credentials if an outside party supplies them. Some servers may do a fantastic job, while others will fall short. It’s important to note that companies that deal with cases in more than one state may have to deal with process servers subject to various regulations in each jurisdiction. Verifying the process server’s experience and credentials might be difficult unless you’re paired with the proper company.

Laws governing how legal documents must be delivered vary by country. The defendant must be physically served with a summons and any other relevant papers at their home, place of business, place of dwelling, or in certain situations, onto another person of sufficient age and discretion. As in several small claims court processes, serving of process may be accomplished through the mail. When a person cannot be found within a certain jurisdiction, service by publication may be permitted under applicable procedural rules or by court order.

A return of service, evidence of service, or affidavit of service must usually be filed with the court by the relevant officer or process server after service of process has been made (or convey one to the plaintiff to file with the court). The return of service details the date and time of service, the identity of the individual served, and any other facts necessary to prove that service was lawfully made. The process server’s signature on the document establishes initial credibility and serves as prima facie proof that the service was completed.

Any return or affidavit of service submitted by a process server other than a sheriff or constable must include the county where the process server is registered under Arizona Court Rules. It is common practice for Arizona process servers to report their certification number on their sworn statements and returns. The superior court clerk in each county is responsible for issuing certification numbers.


Service of process is the first step in establishing the court’s jurisdiction over the defendant. Suppose the defendant does not respond to further pleadings or engage in the proceedings. In that case, the court or administrative body may declare the defendant in default and provide the remedy sought by the claimant, petitioner, or plaintiff. The default judgment may be challenged in the defendant’s home state. Distinguishing between the serving process and following documents (such as pleadings and motion papers) is essential in any legal proceeding.

Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the service of process in lawsuits filed in United States district courts. 

If the defendant’s country of residence is a signatory to the Hague Service Convention, then particular processes must be followed in order to effect service on the defendant. The rogatory letter method is used to enforce service on defendants in several South American nations and a few others. If the locations of the defendant are unknown, a court may allow service through publication, often in a newspaper.


Many jurisdictions provide substituted service when the specific party to be served cannot be served personally. A person of proper age and discretion, such as a cohabitant or a minor, might be asked to accept the service of process on behalf of the intended recipient, allowing the process server to leave the papers with the intended recipient. Substituted service in the United States must be done at the defendant’s residence in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  For substituted service to be effective, the party doing the service must usually prove that [A.] personal service by delivery is impossible; [B.]  all reasonable efforts have been taken to locate and serve the other party, and [C.]  substituted service will ultimately reach the recipient. 

Service by publishing, also known as “constructive service” in certain jurisdictions, is another substitute. Only when a court explicitly authorizes service by publication based on a sworn statement of the inability to locate the defendant after exercising “due diligence” is “constructive notice” sent to the defendant by publishing. 

Furthermore, in certain jurisdictions, substituted service may be accomplished by filing a motion, giving public notice, and mailing the papers through certified mail. Defendants in other U.S. states or foreign nations may be served by mail in most U.S. jurisdictions. If the target country has objected to service by mail under the multilateral Hague Service Convention, then service by mail is not an option. 

Voluntary acceptance of service, also known as waiver of service, may be recognized in certain jurisdictions as an alternative to personal service by a process server. It indicates that the party being served is willing to confirm receipt of the complaint or petition on their own accord, saving the cost and hassle of hiring a process server.

When a party is served in person, the summons, complaint, or petition goes to them. Personal service is essential to establish service in the majority of cases filed in the United States. There is a lack of references for this section. In virtually all disputes, substituted service is permissible. However, when a corporation, LLC, LLP, or other business entity is sued, personal service must be accomplished by serving the papers to the company’s registered agent. 

Documents may be “drop served” (put as near to the individual as feasible) if the subject refuses to accept service, leaves, locks the door, etc., and the individual has been recognized as the person to be served. Personal serving of process has been the standard for starting a lawsuit in the United States for over a century since it ensures the defendant receives genuine notice of the lawsuit. Legal systems in the United States that adhere to common law. Typically, officers of the sheriff’s office are the ones who personally serve civil paperwork.

Generally speaking, service of process must be made by a sheriff, marshal, constable, or bailiff in order to be valid in that jurisdiction.  Private individuals cannot serve legal documents in certain countries without a court order. Process serving is a standard service provided by private investigators.  U.S. law, specifically Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, governs serving the federal civil process. A summons and complaint in a federal civil lawsuit may be served by any adult who is not a party to the case and is at least 18 years old.  Subpoenas issued by federal courts must be served as described in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45—those based on civil law.

Service on a party need not be made directly to the party but instead might be made through the party’s representative for acceptance of service or “registered agent.” The registered agent is the person or organization designated in legal documents to receive legal notices for the entity being served.  A process agent is an agent for acceptance of service in the United Kingdom, and the connection between the parties is established by contract rather than statute.


Many jurisdictions have enacted legislation addressing such issues as the who may serve process, which must be licensed to do so, what documents must be utilized, and by what date service must be completed. These variations might be rather significant. To be effective, the service of process must conform to the relevant court’s rules, forms, guidelines, and procedures. If these procedures are not followed, the service can be invalidated. Service of process upon defendant did not comply with legal procedure. Thus, it is not unexpected that this defense is often successful. Most state service of process laws derives from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which govern the serving of process in federal courts in the United States. There is a universal rule that serving of process must conform to the statutes at the issuing court. In many courts, the interpretation of the law regarding service is skewed or unclear. 

The United States has laws prohibiting process servers from trespassing on private property to deliver legal documents. Even the most benign intrusions into someone else’s privacy are considered criminal and may result in legal repercussions for the intruder. Although access to apartment complexes and gated communities has become more difficult for process servers, they are legally compelled to do so. However, this limitation may be waived if the process server is directly employed by a law enforcement agency responsible for serving papers, such as the United States Marshals Service, a county sheriff’s department, or another similar agency.

Our Process

Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed to ps@undisputedlegal.com, 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.; Our receptionist receives all documents.


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New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
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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 assist you. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large!  For more information, check out Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers; Click Here!

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.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A


1. Service of process is governed by Part 6 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 in England and Wales.  

2. At least two provinces in Canada recognize Facebook as an acceptable means of alternative service.

3. A few judicial systems, most notably the federal courts in the United States, actively promote the acceptance or waiver of service. If the defendant does not waive service “without good reason,” as required by Rule 4(d)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, then the defendant must be personally served with the papers and must pay the associated costs.

4. For instance, most jurisdictions’ laws mandate that companies have a registered agent in each state where they do business. In most cases, a company’s agent for service may be located by searching for the company’s filings with the proper state corporate records or business registration agency (often the business entity division of a state’s secretary of state). Public access to these company registration documents is usually available through a website maintained by the state’s secretary.

5. Service of process may require a license in New York; in Pennsylvania, it must be served by a sheriff or a sheriff’s deputy (except in Philadelphia, where it may be served “by any competent adult”). In New Jersey, it is effected if, after making an affidavit that diligent efforts to effect personal service had failed, the party sends two copies of the pleading by mail: one by regular mail and one by overnight delivery.


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