It happens more often than you would think that a plaintiff needs to sue a defendant who does not live in the United States. No matter what type of case you may be pursuing, a series of issues may arise regarding providing the soon-to-be defendant notice of any pending lawsuit in the United States. Thankfully, there are several methods that are not only allowed by law but tried and true when it comes to successfully serving legal papers to someone who lives in Mexico. Below is a simple primer on how to serve someone in Mexico.
The Hague Service Convention
A majority of the world’s nations—including the United States and Mexico—are parties to The Hague Service Convention (the “Convention”). The purpose of the Convention is to streamline the method by which a person living abroad is served legal paperwork. The Convention further contemplates a set method of service of process so that hundreds of different nations are not implementing different ways to allow service to be effectuated upon someone living in their country, further complicating international litigation matters.
What Needs to be Done?
While Mexico has a Central Authority, which accepts and forwards a foreign country’s legal documents for service of process, it is not sufficient to simply send documents to the agency.
The first thing that you need to do in order to serve someone in Mexico is to have the documents translated into Spanish. Even if the intended recipient speaks and reads English, the documents must still be translated.
Second, you must complete a Hague Service request form. In addition to outlining your name, address, contact information, and the address of Mexico’s Central Authority, you must list the documents that are being served.
Finally, be sure to make several copies of all documents for your records prior to sending them out to Mexico’s Central Authority. Moreover, be ready to wait as it can take more than six months to receive proof of service from the Mexican authorities. While there are other methods of service that are allowed under international law, Mexico has rejected all of them.
Be Sure to Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is critical when it comes to serving notice of a lawsuit to someone who lives abroad, including Mexico. It is best for your attorney to notify the American court early that service on a person living in Mexico is necessary so that the U.S. court does not place the case on a “fast track” toward an early trial and even earlier pretrial deadlines. This will help you avoid requesting multiple continuances for circumstances that are completely out of your control.
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