International Process Service FAQ

  1. How do I serve process overseas?
  2. How do I decide which service is appropriate?
  3. What are the differences between formal and informal service?
  4. Why does formal (treaty) service take so much time?
  5. By whom and with what method are documents served in a formal service?
  6. What are the service fees for formal (treaty) and informal (agent) service?
  7. When do I receive the certificate of service?
  8. Can you check status of service, while it is in progress?

The Taking of Voluntary Depositions Abroad:

  1. Where do I start in preparation of a voluntary foreign deposition?
  2. Why must the deposition be voluntary?
  3. How do I arrange a voluntary deposition?
  4. What are the voluntary deposition fees?

How do I serve process overseas?

If there is no applicable treaty or convention pertaining to the service of judicial documents between the United States and the foreign country in which documents are to be served, then informal service: service by an agent or service by mail may be possible. These choices will be dictated by the court (federal or state) in which the judicial documents are filed (forum court), the forum state civil statutes regarding foreign service of judicial documents, and the legal requirements of the foreign country in which documents are to be served. We Serve Them can advise you as to which service will best fit your circumstances.

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How do I decide which service is appropriate?

It is important to research forum state statutes and appropriate treaty requirements of the country where service is to be effected. If you decide to use an international process server or legal support company, be sure to inquire as to whether they are preparing the service there or if it is being sent elsewhere. There are many variables when serving process overseas you want a company that is aware and can advise you appropriately. Here at We Serve Them that is our focus, international legal support.

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What are the differences between formal and informal service?

Formal service is via an international treaty or convention, informal is by an agent (similar to a process server in the United States) or by registered mail. Agent service is usually quicker but more costly, and sometimes forbidden by foreign countries. Service by registered mail is the least expensive method, but again forum state statutes and foreign countries requirements must be researched to know if service by mail is allowed. If there is any likelihood a judgment will need to be enforced the formal method is highly recommended. It must also noted that cases have been dismissed because of improper service in not following the forum state statutes or comporting with the law of the foreign country.

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Why does formal (treaty) service take so much time?

For formal service, the service documents must either go through diplomatic channels, beginning with the U.S. State Department and or to the appropriate foreign central authority (dependent upon which treaty or convention is applicable). It is then forwarded to the appropriate foreign jurisdiction to which the service is addressed. The channels of government between the foreign central authority and the appropriate jurisdiction could be as many as 3 or 4 different branches of government. Hague Service Convention has the least amount of channels to go through, thereby it is the timeliest. Once attempts for service have been effected, the documents then must return through the same channels before returned to the United States.

(Refer to question “When do I receive certificate of service?” for estimated time frames of services.)

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By whom and with what method are documents served in a formal service?

This largely depends on the country where documents are to be served: some countries will personally serve the documents via a police officer or court bailiff, other countries will request the addressee to come to the appropriate district court, and pick up the documents.

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What are the service fees for formal (treaty) and informal (agent) service?

Fees are determined by the type of treaty, as different treaties require more documentation. Hague Service Convention is $300.00 to $400.00 (depending on which country as central authorities vary).

Inter-American Convention, Hague Evidence Convention, and Letters Rogatory, require more documentation and U.S. Embassy fees so they are more expensive $500.00 – $875.00. Agent service costs vary depending on where documents are to be served , and the accessibility of the address; the range is usually $500.00 to $900.00 dollars. These costs are only for service. If the country where you are requesting service require translation of the service documents, expect to pay $50.00 to $85.00 per page. It is important documents are translated by a reliable source; services have been returned because of translation inaccuracies. For a more accurate quotation, please contact We Serve Them.

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When do I receive the certificate of service?

Hague Service Convention certificates of service are generally returned in about 3-4 months. Inter-American Convention are returned in approximately 6-8 months. Letters Rogatory can take up to 8 months as well. All these time frames are estimates some services can take longer. The timeliness of the service is sometimes related to how long the country has been a signatory to a treaty. Because of the lengthy timescale, you will need an affidavit stating the service is in progress . This affidavit is then filed with the court and will allow for a motion to extend.

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Can you check status of service, while it is in progress?

In English speaking countries it is easier to submit a request for status, but central authorities may charge a fee for requests. Many foreign authorities do not have English speaking employees so requests will often be ignored. At We Serve Them we speak French, Japanese and Spanish so we try to request status on services to those countries speaking such languages.

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Where do I start in preparation of a voluntary foreign deposition?

One must first decide if there is an U.S. embassy or consulate available where the deposition is to be held. If there is one available and the foreign country’s laws allow for consular depositions this would be the most economical method. Normally embassies and consulates are busy and reservations must be made far in advance. If you decide to make the arrangements yourself, you should become familiar with the applicable Federal Statutory Provisions and Rules of the United States code. Most states authorize by statute or by rule the taking of depositions in a foreign country; a few states provide provisions when using a U.S. consular for the deposition. You must also investigate if the laws of the foreign country do not prohibit testimony of a witness. Some countries view the taking of even voluntary testimony as an infringement on their sovereignty and other countries allow for only U.S. citizens, not nationals to give testimony.

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Why must the deposition be voluntary?

If it is not voluntary, you will need the aid of foreign authorities to compel a witness to testify and this can be a lengthy process and again this is only when the foreign country┬╣s laws provide for such cooperation, or there is a treaty or convention applicable.

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How do I arrange a voluntary deposition?

After deciding where and when the deposition is to be held, you must decide who will preside over the deposition local lawyer, notary, consular officer, or attorney from the U.S. How the testimony will be taken (written or orally)? Will it be necessary to have an interpreter or translator present? Are court reporters available to take verbatim testimony? (Most foreign court reporters are only allowed to take testimony in court, but stenographers are usually available). A videographer is used since verbatim recording of the testimony is not often available. A local notary is necessary to administer oaths, as many countries prohibit the giving of an oath by person who is not authorized by local law. We Serve Them has experience and the knowledge to help you coordinate all of the necessary arrangements pertaining to your situation.

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What are the voluntary deposition fees?

You must contact We Serve Them for a quote, there are too many variables to give an estimate. We will be happy discuss and advise you on what will be necessary for your particular situation.

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Disclaimer: Due to the rapidly changing nature of the law, 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.


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