What Qualifications Does a Registered Process Server Need?

Oct 28, 2021 7 min read

If your law firm wants to take the hassle out of serving documents, it’s good to know what that takes, what’s required of process servers, and how to make process serving easier.

First, let’s discuss the characteristics that define an exceptional process server and the job requirements so that you can better assess the quality of services you’re seeking.

Qualifications and Characteristics of Process Servers

A process server’s main job is to deliver legal documents to individuals who are named in a legal action. This places the party on notice that an action has been filed with a court of law. It takes a strong understanding of the process server job requirements to be effective. This includes:

  • Integrity: Respecting the process and the individuals
  • Adaptability: Ability to handle evolving situations and get the job done
  • Persistence: It may take multiple attempts to complete a service.
  • Patience: Process server requirements may include waiting or surveillance.
  • Research and preparation: May require a study of individuals to learn habits and routines.
  • Attention to detail: Process servers need to guarantee they are serving the right papers to the right individuals.
  • People skills: Ability to talk to people, deal with people who are emotional, and converse with neighbors or co-workers to find the right person
  • Knowledge: Process servers need to know laws and procedures in any area where they work to effect proper service.

Process Server Job Requirements

Whether you need a certified process server, registered process server, or a licensed process server, requirements will vary by state. Many states do not require a formal licensing process as part of the requirements for process servers. However, some states have additional requirements in place to help protect defendants. This is particularly true when it comes to more niche areas of the law, such as law firm’s that handle cases involving creditors’ rights. It’s important that proper service of process is adhered to in order to ensure compliance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

States Licensing and Registration Laws

When looking to hire a process server, you will want to make sure you understand what’s needed in each location. You may be required to use a licensed, certified, or registered process server depending on where you are delivering service. If you’re unsure whether a process server needs a license in the state or county where you’re serving legal documents, perform an online search, or check the list of states that require registration below:

  • Alaska: Private process servers are required to be licensed as civilian process servers by the Alaska Commissioner of Public Safety.
  • Arizona: Process servers are required to register as a certified private process server with the Superior Court of Arizona.
  • Arkansas: Individuals who serve process in the state of Arkansas are required to be appointed by the Circuit Court or County Court.
  • California: Process servers in California are required to apply and be registered in the county they serve in. Registration is statewide and the individual must have lived in California for at least one year. No classes or training is required. Every applicant is required to post a $2,000 bond or cash deposit.
  • Florida: Any permanent resident over 18 can serve process. Most counties require process servers to be appointed by the sheriff.
  • Georgia: Process servers in Georgia are required to be certified by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association. In addition, process servers need to be appointed by the court for each county they serve process in.
  • Illinois: In counties with a population of less than 2 million, process may be served without special appointment by a person who is licensed or registered as a private detective under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security and Locksmith Act of 2004, or by a registered employee of a private detective agency under that Act.
  • Missouri: Process servers in the city of St. Louis are required to be certified by the sheriff. There is no state-wide certification, and the only counties that require process servers to be appointed are Jackson and Pettis Counties.
  • Montana: Anyone making more than 10 services of process in a calendar year is required to register with the Montana Department of Labor.
  • Nevada: Process servers in Nevada are required to be licensed through the state.
  • New York: There is no state-wide certification, but process servers in New York City are required to be certified by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • Oklahoma: Process servers in Oklahoma are required to be licensed through the state.
  • Rhode Island: Process servers are required to be licensed as Constables by the Chief Judge of the District Court.
  • Tennessee: There is no state-wide registration in Tennessee, but some counties like Shelby and Knox require process servers to be appointed.
  • Texas: Process servers in Texas are required to be certified by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission. ABC Legal provides an online certification course for process servers.
  • Vermont: There is no state-wide registration, but process-servers in Vermont must be authorized by the county court in which they are serving. Contact your county court for more information.
  • Washington: Process servers in Washington are required to register with the auditor of the county in which they reside or operate their business.

Tools of the Trade

Process servers also require certain tools of the trade. They will need a car, insurance, and a driver’s license. In addition, process servers need phone and internet access for research and to communicate with clients. Depending on state and local requirements, they may also need to be a registered process server or certified process server.

ABC Legal also offers a whole new level of service and compliance tools to help process servers do their job more effectively than ever. Our process server app makes it easy for process servers to organize their workloads and focus on efficient process of service. 

Making Process Service Simpler for Attorneys

Not everyone has the skills or dedication to excel at being a process server, and it takes considerable time to vet servers for hire. To complicate matters, working with some process server companies can be dicey. Most of the industry is served by independent proprietors or small, local companies which can lead to erratic or inconsistent quality and hassles for law firms who work with many different vendors to manage their case load. (In contrast, ABC Legal provides consistent process server training, onboarding, and support.)

Hiring someone who doesn’t act professionally or understand the laws can cause cases to be postponed or jeopardized. Improper service – serving in a way that goes against the laws outlined by the court – can cause problems, even if the documents go to the right person. Serving papers on the wrong person, for example, can delay an action. Depending on the circumstances, it may lead to legal action for defamation, breach of privacy, or emotional distress from the wrong person being served.

You can avoid all these potential problems by working with a vendor platform like ABC Legal that has trained, licensed, and certified process servers that get the job done right.

ABC Legal serves more than 125,000 documents every month and operates in all 50 states and more than 75 countries. ABC Legal is trusted by the US Department of Justice as the exclusive and official Central Authority Process Server for all foreign service of process coming into the United States from abroad.

Sascha Mehlhase

Written by

Sascha Mehlhase
Vice President of Growth at ABC Legal. Sascha oversees ABC Legal’s growing product, marketing and customer success teams to transform ABC Legal into the best-in-class technology and service industry leader, while finding new ways to scale. With 20 years of experience in technology, he has advanced product strategies and led global teams in many industries.

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