International Service of Process FAQ

The process of serving documents to defendants who are located outside the United States is different from that of serving documents domestically. Several bodies of law are involved with this process, including that of the nation which you will be serving in. Historically, a Letters Rogatory is served to the foreign court, however, its usage has declined since the Hague Service Convention was introduced in 1965, covering a number of nations. Today, Letters Rogatory are still deployed when there is no treaty in place.

What is the Hague Service Convention?

The Hague Service Convention is a multilateral treaty that eliminates the need for Letters Rogatory during the service processing procedure between member states. A total of 78 states are contracted parties under the Hague Service Convention as of July 2020, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan and China.

Who Can Serve Process Internationally?

In the United States, the laws will vary slightly from state to state. Some states will allow a person over 18 and who is not related to the case to serve papers, whereas others may require that the process server be licensed or certified. In Hague Convention countries, only attorneys, clerks and judges are allowed to serve papers through a Hague Central Authority.

How Long will International Service Take?

This depends on the country you are serving in. In some countries such as Canada, the process can be expedited and completed in a matter of weeks. In others, it can take up to a year despite the Hague Service Convention outlining that the service of process should be completed as promptly as possible.

What Documents Can Be Served?

This is governed by the laws of the forum country (the one you are serving from), regardless of the destination. What this means is that any documents you would serve in your country will be the ones that get served in the destination country. However, as a general rule, interrogations and subpoenas should not be served alongside a summons in the international service of process. There are no specific requirements as to the documents that can be served, however they will have to be served in the proper language.

When Do Service Documents Need to Be Translated?

If English is an official language in the destination country, translation is not necessary. However, if it isn’t, you will need to get the documents translated into that country’s official language. Failure to do so can lead to a lack of judgment in the foreign court due to the plaintiff’s failure to follow regulations. In addition, the defendant has to be able to understand the documents that are served to him/her. This can necessitate a translation into more than one language under certain circumstances.

If you have more questions about the international service of process and how our process servers can help, do not hesitate to contact us today.