California - General

Policies and Procedures

Substitute Service Rules CA State Image

Substitute service can occur once a reasonable effort to perform personal service has been attempted and documented. In practice, this means that 3 attempts must be made on 3 different days before substitute service can be performed.

Before sub-serving, we must have confirmation that the named individual lives or receives mail at the address.

The recipient of the documents must be 18 or older and live at the address. 

Sub-Serving in 3 Visits

Yes, you can sub-serve on the third trip, but you must log both an attempt and a service on this third visit for the proof to be valid.

Note in this example history that the last attempt and service are entered one after the other:

CA Sub Service

Service at Place of Mailing

If the address you are attempting is determined to be a usual place of mailing for the subject, substitute service is allowed, though three attempts at personal service are still necessary before serving the documents.

When considering substitute service at a usual place of mailing, consider the likelihood that the documents will in fact be make it to the appropriate individual. If you do not reasonably believe they will, the court likely won't either.

Service to a Private Mailbox Facility

Substitute service is allowed on the first attempt at private mailbox facilities. Private mailbox facilities include UPS and Fed-Ex facilities, as well as smaller privately owned businesses.

Before service, it must be verified that the person to be served is a box-holder at the location. 

USPS locations are NOT private mailbox facilities, and thus service is strictly disallowed. Do not attempt service at a United States Postal Service location.

Serving Businesses

When serving businesses, always try to find the registered agent if one is listed, even if the address you arrive at does not match the name of the business being served.

If the address you arrive at to serve a business is a:

Residence: Ask for the registered agent anyway, as this may be their home address.

Law firm: Ask for the registered agent, or for the registered agent of the named business. You can be clear about why you are there. This is likely where the registered agent of the business works.

Business: Ask for the registered agent, even if the name of the business does not match the documents.

Corporation: You may serve any employee that works for the company, though the higher up in the company the individual served the better. You'll know you are serving a corporation if there are initials after the name, such as INC, LLC, APC, etc. or the name will specifically 'Corporation'.

California Proof of Service Example:

California Proof Page 1

California Proof Example_Page_2