Refusal of Service

Occasionally Called "Drop Service"

On occasion, a person legally allowed to accept service will refuse to take the documents you are trying to deliver. Depending on the situation, this could be the servee, a co-resident who could be sub-served, or, in the event of a business, a manager or registered agent. In any case, there are certain actions you must take when you encounter these difficulties in order to perform a valid service.

Before continuing, check your State Specific Rules and Policies to see if drop service is allowed in your state.

To Ensure a Valid Serve After Someone Has Refused:

  1. You must have properly communicated that the person you are speaking with is someone that could be served the documents (the servee or a co-resident who can legally accept on the servee's behalf). This conversation must have taken place face-to-face.
  2. You must clearly communicate that you are delivering legal service documents. The recipient must know that you are an authorized agent, acting on behalf of the legal system. If you said something to the effect of: "Hello, my name is Robert, I'm a process server working with ABC Legal. I have legal documents for..." then you are covered.
  3. When the individual refuses to take documents in hand, leave the documents in plain view of the recipient, and inform them what you are doing and why. I.e., "You have been served, as you previously identified yourself as the person to whom these documents are to be delivered" or, "You have been served on behalf of the defendant, as you previously identified yourself as a current co-resident of their's, and are over 18 years of age."
  4. The person refusing service must see the documents being set down and be near them. They must also be able to hear you declare that you served the documents.

After a Drop Service

Do not take the documents back. The person you left the documents with may want to return the documents to you or walk away from them. Simply leave the premises.

Now report the service just as it occurred including details such as "by setting them at their feet and declaring service" or "by setting the documents in front of them and declaring service." In situations like this, it is more important than ever to have a clear description of the events.

Check Your State

Service upon refusal is not allowed in all states. Make sure to check your State Specific Rules to ensure that this method of service is accepted by the courts in your area.


See also:

Trespassing and Barriers

Personal Service

Substitute Service

Other types of Service