It is no surprise that staying in the know of process of service rules within the United States is a feat in itself. This is particularly true when the process of service rules vary – slightly at best, and vastly at worst – depending on the state. Therefore, when it comes to international process of service, the task becomes even more complex. Below are the basic concepts you should know about international process of service.
Expectations on Timelines
Notably, process of service within the nation’s borders can be expected to be completed, on average, in as little as two days and as much as seven days. When it comes to issuing service of process across the border, however, this timeline changes. In fact, service of process can take anywhere from three months to two years – depending on the method selected for international service and the country in which the person or entity is to be served.
Methods of International Service of Process
Generally, there are two methods of service of process overseas. These methods allow for the maintenance of proper jurisdiction over the entity being served abroad and conform to American laws and the foreign country in which process is served. These are (1) The Hague Service Convention Treaty and/or (2) Letters Rogatory.
The Hague Service Convention Treaty (“The Hague Service Convention”) was created in 1965 to allow a method for service of process overseas without necessitating consular or diplomatic channels. This method reduces the length of time it takes to effectuate process by three to six months. Approximately 65 countries have signed on to The Hague Service Convention. For service of process to foreign countries, the only method of service of process that is available is through Letters Rogatory.
Letters Rogatory are requests that originate from the court in one country to the court of a foreign country. These requests generally go through diplomatic channels. As a result, service of process can easily take more than a year. Service by Letters Rogatory not only takes significantly longer than through The Hague Service Convention method, but the costs are also generally higher.
A third method of service that is possible, but may not be legally enforceable in local courts, is service by Agent. This may be possible when an attorney is only interested in notifying the defendant of a lawsuit, particularly because it is much faster than the other two methods. This type of service by Agent can be effectuated in weeks instead of months or years. Although this is an option for international service of process, but American courts typically do not enforcement of a judgment overseas, and the opposing country may not acknowledge service by Agent, either.
For help with service of process overseas, contact Ancillary Legal today. When it comes to choosing an international process server, be sure to pick one with experience in these matters