Service of Process Definition:
- Giving court papers to the other party.
- The formal delivery of a writ, summons, or other legal process, pleading, or notice to a litigant or other party interested in litigation; the legal communication of a judicial process (e.g., service by mail).
- The official delivery of legal documents to opposing attorneys or parties.
In order to complete service of process, you must serve a conformed copy of the following documents on the opposing party:
- Order setting Case Schedule (also know as the Case Schedule Order)
The Summons and Complaint shall be served together.
In Washington, you must always serve the opposing party in-person. The state of Washington requires personal service of the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order.
In order to complete service of process, you must file a Proof of Personal Service form with the Court Clerk after you perform service of the documents listed above.
If the defendant is a corporation
If the defendant is a corporation or a company, the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order must be served on the “registered agent.”
- Frequently, a member of the company’s Board of Directors is the designated registered agent. They are usually served at the company’s address during business hours.
- You can find registered agents and their office addresses by searching for the Corporation or Company name on the Washington Secretary of State Corporations website: https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/.
Who Can Serve
Any competent person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the lawsuit (i.e. a third party) may serve process upon the opposing party.
- This means that you cannot provide service to the opposing party yourself, but you can get a friend to complete service.
- You may also hire a process server.
- For a fee, the Sheriff’s Civil Unit for the county in which you file your complaint will execute service of legal documents by the sheriff or sheriff’s deputy. Find information about service of process by the King County Sheriff’s Department here.
Proof of Service
You must provide proof of service to the court.
- If the sheriff serves process for you, the sheriff will complete and return the “Service Contact Information Sheet” to you. You must provide this form to the Sheriff’s office when you hire them to serve legal documents. You can find this form here. When service is complete and the form is returned to you, you must then file it with the Clerk’s Office.
- If a third party, such as a friend, serves process, you must have the person who served the legal documents sign and date a Proof of Personal Service form, return that completed form to you, and then you must file it with the Clerk’s Office.