According to a poll taken by Serve Now, process servers estimated that up to 25% of their serves originate in a different state than where they’re certified. Although it is easier to serve someone in your own state, it is possible to serve someone in another state.

Before serving someone in another state here are a few things you should know:
• Your own state’s policies for serving people in and out of state
• The state’s policies for which the person you are wanting to serve lives in
• The state guidelines for where the papers are filed
• Your specific case, because it could factor in variations to the rules

Each states has its own set of specific rules. Process servers are allowed to serve a defendant or a witness not residing in the state in which the lawsuit was filed in cases such as real estate or motor vehicles. If you wanted to serve a witness in another state there is a likely chance that your attorney may be required to file in the state in which the person lives. As I stated earlier, each state has their own set of rules and regulations that they follow. Michael Kern, of Kern Legal Services, who is an expert in criminal law with fifteen years of experience, said “The more information you can give [your process server], the better chance there is to have effective service. Rules vary from state to state, even county to county in some cases.”

Sunday service is restricted in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. According to Serve Now, Kansas process servers must request special permission from the county clerk, where as in Wisconsin any adult resident of the state who is not a contributing party in the case can attempt to serve. According to Mass Legal, the easiest option would be to have their local sheriff serve them the papers. Although it may be easier on the front end to have a sheriff serve your papers, a process server is far more inclined to do a thorough job. For a process server this is their main job, for a sheriff it is a duty they fulfill on the side. Either way, here are 4 ways that you could serve someone from out of state:

Process Server:
If you go through a processing business they should have certified process servers who can serve your papers. They are trained professionals who know the legal requirements and obligations to serving someone papers. They will also be able to travel to another state or get in contact with another process server in order to make sure the papers arrive where and when they need to. It is a safe option for all parties involved.

If you go through a courthouse they will send a sheriff to serve your papers. This is also handy when serving someone in another state, because their local sheriff will be capable of serving the papers.

Service via publication is also allowed although, this would not be my first recommendation. This is for special cases when you do not know the whereabouts of the person you are trying to serve and is often used as the last possible means. You can’t publish the papers, but you will be able to publish a notification of service. The idea is that they or someone they see it through the paper publication or an online publication.

Anyone 18 and Older Who is a Third Party to the Case:
Anyone who is directly related to the case is not allowed to serve the other party their papers. However, anyone who is a third party, has no direct connection to the case, is 18 years of age or older, and has court approval is allowed to serve the other party their papers. This can be risky, because of the legal requirements of how to deliver the papers, but can be a court approved option.

In conclusion, it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you do research on both states involved in the case, and then decide what is the best serving solution for you.  


By: Christa Vandenburgh