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Frequently Asked Questions

Registered Process Servers and Legal Process Services

The Process Server field can be confusing with all the laws and requirements pertaining to every action in the process.  Below are a few answers to questions you may have about Registered Process Servers and the process itself.

Q. What is Process Serving?

A. Process serving aka Service of Process,  is how the court obtains 'jurisdiction' over a person or entity by means of service of process.  The courts want to be absolutely sure that defendant(s), witnesses or other person have had proper legal notice before proceedings may move forward.

This is a safeguard in our justice system so that it is unlikely a judgement or other legal ramifications may be obtained without the defendant or witness having legally adequate opportunity to defend themselves.

Q. What is a Registered Process Server?


A. A Process Server is a person who is authorized by law (Registered Process Server) to 'serve' legal documents such as; Small Claims, Summons & Complaints, Subpoenas, Unlawful Detainers, Temporary Restraining Orders etc. to the Defendant, or Individual being sued, or other party.

Q. What is required in order for a person to be 'registered' as a process server?


A. The person being registered must register in his or her county of residence, (ie Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County etc.).  The process is much the same for a Process Server in Los Angeles County as it would be for a Process Server in Ventura County  The applicant is screened by the Department of Justice and must submit fingerprints, have no felony criminal record for obvious reasons, obtain a bond, pay fees etc.  Registration as a process server a county such as Los Angeles County or Ventura County, allows that server to serve legal documents in any county in California.  

Q. Is training required to be a Registered Process Server in Los Angeles or any other county in California?

A. Surprisingly, NO.  Process Servers do NOT need to be trained or experienced as a Process Server to become registered. However, training is available through a number of sources and most Registered Process Servers in Los Angeles and elsewhere get training on the job and/or are 'mentored' by an experienced Registered Process Server.  Hiring a server who knows the rules and regulations with regard to proper service of a particular type of document is of paramount importance to your case.


It is very important that price is NOT the primary reason you hire a particular process server as there are quite a few persons in the industry simply doing this as a means to make a few extra dollars and have no interest in gaining the required education to become a proficient process server.  This in turn can cost a client a significant amount of money in the long run.  We've seen this happen to clients that came to us after an inexperienced server created problems with a case in the past!

Q. Must a person serving documents be registered in order to serve legal documents or papers?

A. Certain types of documents must be served by a Registered Process Server / Process Server or Sheriff.  Those documents usually carry significant penalties if not complied with such as arrest etc. 


Many types of Civil Court matters can be served by a person who is NOT registered as a process servers as long as that person is 18 years old or older, not be a party to the case; Serve the paperwork on the other side in the time required; Fill out a proof of service form that tells the court whom they served, when, where, and how; and Return the proof of service to you so you can file it with the court.  By law, a person may serve up to 10 in a 12 month period without being registered. 


That being said, it is highly recommended that you have a professional Registered Process Server do your process serving for you as the courts will NOT allow defective service just because your neighbor or freind didn't know the law.

Q. Do Registered Process Servers have any special privileges or powers with regard to serving legal documents.

A. A Registered California Process Server has the same powers as a peace officer with regard to process serving and the following:


  • Assault on a Registered Process Server while performing a service of process is a felony. (Penal Code 243)

  • Limited exemption from trespass (Penal Code 602(m)Vehicular Trespass (Penal Code 602.8(c)(3) Lands Under Cultivation or Enclosed by a Fence, and posted with a "No Trespassing" sign)

  • Proof of service has rebuttable presumption status (Evidence Code 647)

  • Must be provided access to a gated community when performing a service (CCP 415.21)

  • Service , Locate and stakeout fees are recoverable costs (CCP 1033.5(4)(B)

Q. Is Process Serving or Being a Registered Process Server dangerous?

A. Absolutely!  A process server is serving process to an individual they do not know and bringing them what in all likelyhood, is bad news!  An experienced process server assesses every situation they walk in to, much the same as a Peace Officer would.  It is important to let the process server or process serving company know if the subject being served presents any danger to the process server so the process server can better prepare for the situation.


Additionally, Process Servers handle the service of Family Law documents and emotions to those involved in the case can run very high.  This can lead to dangerous situations to the Process Server as well.

Q. What is a Proof of Service?

A. A Proof of Service is a court form which is filled out once the Defendant or Witness has been served with the legal documents or papers.  After the Proof of Service is completed it MUST then filed with the court. A Proof of Service contains information such as the name of the person who was served, their capacity IE, Individual, corporation etc., the location where he or she accepted service, the time and date the defendant was served, and the description of the individual accepting service.


Additionally, while some rules are changing due to e-filing etc., most proof of services must be originals bearing the Registered Process Servers 'wet signature'.  One should also have an extra copy 'conform stamped' by the court as proof of filing should the original document go missing at the court as an extra measure of security.

Q. What is a Substitute Service?

A. Some, but not all legal documents can be served by 'substituted service' as long as certain conditions are met. A Substitute Service is when a Registered Process Server delivers legal papers to an Individual who isn’t listed as one of the Defendants on the lawsuit, but either resides at the same residence or works at the same company as the Defendant. 


Having a well trained and experienced Process Server and/or Process Serving Company is a good rule of thumb when hiring a Process Server for your Process Serving needs as a well trained Process Server knows what documents can and cannot be served by substituted service and the follow-up requirements mandated by the courts for the Process Server to follow after a service of process by substituted service.

Q. Does the 'Servee' need or are they required to 'accept' the service?

A. No...and indeed, some people do not!  In those cases, the 'servee' mistakenly believe they must actually have the documents handed to them that they must willingly accept  in order for the service of process to be valid.  Therefore, some defendants or witnesses may refuse to accept.  However,  the law is clear on this issue and requires only that the servee be "Within Reasonable Speaking distance" to the server.  This means that even if a Registered Process Server has the door slammed on them after proper identity has been established, the documents are deemed properly served.

Q. Is it better to have a Sheriff serve my legal documents?

A. Good question.  Many California Counties no longer offer this service for financial reasons.  However, the question is best answered by clicking the link to Process Server vs Sheriff which is a short video that will answer your question completely.

Q. How long does it usually for a Registered Process Server to serve legal documents or papers?

A. Normally, it takes a Registered Process Server about 5 to 7 days to serve legal documents or papers.  Depending on Court requirements, sometimes service must take place in a more expedited manner.  Amstar Express offers the following service levels.


  1. Special - Service requires immediate attempt or attempt during certain hours or other special circumstances.

  2. Do Today or Same Day Service - First attempt made within 24 hours. - Includes 5 Attempts or until time to serve expires.

  3. Rush Service - Less than 6 days to serve with First attempt within 48 hours or less - Includes 5 Attempts or until time to serve expires.

  4. Routine or Standard Service - 7+ days to serve with first attempt within 48 to 72 hours. - Includes 5 attempts.

Q. What if a Process Server is unable to serve the legal documents or papers?

A.  This can happen for many reasons so it all depends why the process server wasn’t able to serve the legal papers. If the location was a bad address then a new location needs to be provided.  (Amstar Express offers skip tracing services) If the Individual is avoiding service then multiple attempts need to be made until he or she is served and may require another fee to facilitate those additional attempts and/or more aggressive action may be required such as a stake out etc..  The good news is that about 90% of our service requests are successful within the parameters set above and don't require additional tactics.

Q. What is a Stakeout?

A.  A Stakeout is when a process server waits outside of a subjects residence, business or other frequented location, keeping an eye out for when the subject arrives or leaves the location being staked out and then serves him or her with the legal papers or documents. This can last anywhere between 1 hr. to 4 hrs. depending on how long the client requests the service for.  Amstar Process Servers have been on some stake-outs that took several days but that is more the exception. 


It really depends on many factors including financial limits.  But remember, under CCP 1033.5(4)(B) Service, Locate and stakeout fees are recoverable costs.  Experienced Process Servers take note of all vehicles present, activities occuring in and/or around the subject property and much more as part of the stake-out service. 

Q. What if I don’t know where the Defendant lives?

A.  There are serveral ways of locating the Defendant. One method is called skip tracing. The way skip tracing works is the subjects name and last known address together with a third piece of information (i.e. Date of Birth, Social Security, or Driver’s License) is typed into a database by our investigators which usually nets an updated address for the Defendant to be found.

Q. How long after the incident happened must I file my lawsuit?

A. This depends on many factors and you should consult an attorney before investing in legal action. Generally, if your claim is regarding personal injury, then you have two years from the date of injury or from the date you discovered you were injured. If it is regarding property damage, then you have three years from the date the damage occurred. If it was a written contract then you have four years from the date the contract was broken. Oral contract, two years from the date the contract was breached. Fraud, four years from the date you were defrauded.  This content should NOT be construed to be legal advice as we are not attorneys and some rules change from time to time.

Q. Does a process server need to give the Defendant an original document?

A.  Generally speaking, in California, a process server does not need to serve the Defendant with the original document. Either a faxed copy or an emailed copy is adequate.  It should be noted that some states do require original documents bearing the courts seal etc.

Q. Will I be notified when Service of Process is completed?

A. Yes, once the process server has served the defendant or Individual, you will be notified either by phone or email.  This will be followed by your original proof of service within a few days.  THE PROOF OF SERVICE MUST BE FILED WITH THE COURT TO COMPLETE THE PROCESS!  Amstar Express offers filing services and we can file your proof of service for you and send your a file stamped copy for your records. (Service available at additional charge)

Q. What is your coverage area?

A. Our service areas include;

Process Servers Los Angeles County, Process Servers Ventura County, Process Servers Orange County, Process Servers Santa Barbara County, Process Servers San Diego County, Process Servers San Luis Obispo County, Process Servers Riverside County, Process Servers San-Bernardino County, Process Servers Monterey County, Process Servers San-Francisco County, Process Servers Marin County, Process Servers Sacramento County, Process Servers Alameda County, Process Servers Alpine County, Process Servers Amador County, Process Servers Butte County, Process Servers Calaveras County, Process Servers Colusa County, Process Servers Contra Costa County, Process Servers Del Norte County, Process Servers Eldorado County, Process Servers Fresno County, Process Servers Glenn County, Process Servers Kern County, Process Servers Humboldt County, Process Servers Imperial County, Process Servers Inyo County, Process Servers Kings County, Process Servers Lake County, Process Servers Lassen County, Process Servers Madera County, Process Servers Mariposa County, Process Servers Mendocino County, Process Servers Merced County, Process Servers Modoc County, Process Servers Mono County, Process Servers Napa County, Process Servers Nevada County, Process Servers Placer County, Process Servers Plumas County, Process Servers San Benito County, Process Servers San Joaquin-County, Process Servers San Mateo County, Process Servers Santa Clara County, Process Servers Santa Cruz County, Process Servers Shasta County, Process Servers Sierra County, Process Servers Siskiyou County, Process Servers Solano County, Process Servers Sonoma County, Process Servers Stanislaus County, Process Servers Sutter County, Process Servers Tehama County, Process Servers Trinity County, Process Servers Tulare County, Process Servers Tuolumne County, Process Servers Yolo County, Process Servers Yuba County.

Q. What if the person or entity I need served is in another state?

A. No problem, we have a trusted network of Registered Process Servers in any in the U.S., including;

Registered Process Server Alabama, Registered Process Server Alaska, Registered Process Server Arizona, Registered Process Server Arkansas, Registered Process Server California, Registered Process Server Colorado, Registered Process Server Connecticut, Registered Process Server Delaware, Registered Process Server District of Columbia, Registered Process Server Florida, Registered Process Server Georgia, Registered Process Server Hawaii, Registered Process Server Idaho, Registered Process Server Illinois, Registered Process Server Indiana, Registered Process Server Iowa, Registered Process Server Kansas, Registered Process Server Kentucky, Registered Process Server Louisiana, Registered Process Server Maine, Registered Process Server Maryland, Registered Process Server Massachusetts, Registered Process Server Michigan, Registered Process Server Minnesota, Registered Process Server Mississippi, Registered Process Server Missouri, Registered Process Server Montana, Registered Process Server Nebraska, Registered Process Server Nevada, Registered Process Server New Hampshire, Registered Process Server New Jersey, Registered Process Server New Mexico, Registered Process Server New York, Registered Process Server North Carolina, Registered Process Server North Dakota, Registered Process Server Ohio, Registered Process Server Oklahoma, Registered Process Server Oregon, Registered Process Server Pennsylvania, Registered Process Server Rhode Island, Registered Process Server South Carolina, Registered Process Server South Dakota, Registered Process Server Tennessee, Registered Process Server Texas, Registered Process Server Utah, Registered Process Server Vermont, Registered Process Server Virginia, Registered Process Server Washington, Registered Process Server West Virginia, Registered Process Server Wisconsin, Registered Process Server Wyoming

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