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California Process Server Laws


California Code of Civil Procedure
CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 413.10-413.40


413.10. Except as otherwise provided by statute, a summons shall be served on a person:
(a) Within this state, as provided in this chapter.
(b) Outside this state but within the United States, as provided in this chapter or as prescribed by the law of the place where the person is served.
(c) Outside the United States, as provided in this chapter or as directed by the court in which the action is pending, or, if the court before or after service finds that the service is reasonably calculated to give actual notice, as prescribed by the law of the place where the person is served or as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory. These rules are subject to the provisions of the Convention on the "Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents" in Civil or Commercial Matters (Hague Service Convention).

413.20. If a summons is served by mail pursuant to this chapter, the provisions of Section 1013 that extend the time for exercising a right or doing an act shall not extend any time specified in this title.

413.30. Where no provision is made in this chapter or other law for the service of summons, the court in which the action is pending may direct that summons be served in a manner which is reasonably calculated to give actual notice to the party to be served and that proof of such service be made as prescribed by the court.

413.40. Any service of summons which complies with the provisions of this chapter shall not be rendered invalid or ineffective because it was made by a person in violation of Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 22350) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code

414.10. A summons may be served by any person who is at least 18 years of age and not a party to the action.

415.10. A summons may be served by personal delivery of a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served. Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete at the time of such delivery. The date upon which personal delivery is made shall be entered on or affixed to the face of the copy of the summons at the time of its delivery. However, service of a summons without such date shall be valid and effective.

415.20. (a) In lieu of personal delivery of a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served as specified in Section 416.10, 416.20, 416. 30, 416.40, or 416.50, a summons may be served by leaving a copy of the summons and of the complaint during usual office hours in his or her office with the person who is apparently in charge thereof, and by thereafter mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint (by first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served at the place where a copy of the summons and of the complaint were left. Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete on the 10th day after such mailing.
(b) If a copy of the summons and of the complaint cannot with reasonable diligence be personally delivered to the person to be served as specified in Section 416.60, 416.70, 416.80, or 416.90, a summons may be served by leaving a copy of the summons and of the complaint at such person's dwelling house, usual place of abode, usual place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box, in the presence of a competent member of the household or a person apparently in charge of his or her office, place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box, at least 18 years of age, who shall be informed of the contents thereof, and by thereafter mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint (by first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served at the place where a copy of the summons and of the complaint were left. Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete on the 10th day after the mailing.

415.21. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person shall be granted access to a gated community for a reasonable period of time for the purpose of performing lawful service of process, upon identifying to the guard the person or persons to be served, and upon displaying a current driver's license or other identification, and one of the following:
(1) A badge or other confirmation that the individual is acting in his or her capacity as a representative of a county sheriff or marshal.
(2) Evidence of current registration as a process server pursuant to Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 22350) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code.
(b) This section shall only apply to a gated community which is staffed at the time service of process is attempted by a guard or other security personnel assigned to control access to the community.

415.30. (a) A summons may be served by mail as provided in this section. A copy of the summons and of the complaint shall be mailed (by first-class mail or airmail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served, together with two copies of the notice and acknowledgment provided for in subdivision (b) and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender.
(b) The notice specified in subdivision (a) shall be in substantially the following form:
(Title of court and cause, with action number, to be inserted by the sender prior to mailing) NOTICE To: (Here state the name of the person to be served.) This summons is served pursuant to Section 415.30 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. Failure to complete this form and return it to the sender within 20 days may subject you (or the party on whose behalf you are being served) to liability for the payment of any expenses incurred in serving a summons upon you in any other manner permitted by law. If you are served on behalf of a corporation, unincorporated association (including a partnership), or other entity, this form must be signed in the name of such entity by you or by a person authorized to receive service of process on behalf of such entity. In all other cases, this form must be signed by you personally or by a person authorized by you to acknowledge receipt of summons. Section 415.30 provides that this summons is deemed served on the date of execution of an acknowledgment of receipt of summons. _______________Signature of sender

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RECEIPT OF SUMMONS

This acknowledges receipt on (insert date) of a copy of the summons and of the complaint at (insert address). Date: (Date this acknowledgement is executed) Signature of person acknowledging receipt, with title if acknowledgment is made on behalf of another person
(c) Service of a summons pursuant to this section is deemed complete on the date a written acknowledgement of receipt of summons is executed, if such acknowledgement thereafter is returned to the sender.
(d) If the person to whom a copy of the summons and of the complaint are mailed pursuant to this section fails to complete and return the acknowledgement form set forth in subdivision (b) within 20 days from the date of such mailing, the party to whom the summons was mailed shall be liable for reasonable expenses thereafter incurred in serving or attempting to serve the party by another method permitted by this chapter, and, except for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending, upon motion, with or without notice, shall award the party such expenses whether or not he is otherwise entitled to recover his costs in the action.
(e) A notice or acknowledgment of receipt in form approved by the Judicial Council is deemed to comply with this section.

415.40. A summons may be served on a person outside this state in any manner provided by this article or by sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served by first-class mail, postage prepaid, requiring a return receipt. Service of a summons by this form of mail is deemed complete on the 10th day after such mailing.

415.45. (a) A summons in an action for unlawful detainer of real property may be served by posting if upon affidavit it appears to the satisfaction of the court in which the action is pending that the party to be served cannot with reasonable diligence be served in any manner specified in this article other than publication and that:
(1) A cause of action exists against the party upon whom service is to be made or he is a necessary or proper party to the action; or
(2) The party to be served has or claims an interest in real property in this state that is subject to the jurisdiction of the court or the relief demanded in the action consists wholly or in part in excluding such party from any interest in such property.
(b) The court shall order the summons to be posted on the premises in a manner most likely to give actual notice to the party to be served and direct that a copy of the summons and of the complaint be forthwith mailed by certified mail to such party at his last known address.
(c) Service of summons in this manner is deemed complete on the 10th day after posting and mailing.
(d) Notwithstanding an order for posting of the summons, a summons may be served in any other manner authorized by this article, except publication, in which event such service shall supersede any posted summons.

415.46. (a) In addition to the service of a summons and complaint in an action for unlawful detainer upon a tenant and subtenant, if any, as prescribed by this article, a prejudgment claim of right to possession may also be served on any person who appears to be or who may claim to have occupied the premises at the time of the filing of the action. Service upon occupants shall be made pursuant to subdivision (c) by serving a copy of a prejudgment claim of right to possession, as specified in subdivision (f), attached to a copy of the summons and complaint at the same time service is made upon the tenant and subtenant, if any.
(b) Service of the prejudgment claim of right to possession in this manner shall be effected by a marshal, sheriff, or registered process server.
(c) When serving the summons and complaint upon a tenant and subtenant, if any, the marshal, sheriff, or registered process server shall make a reasonably diligent effort to ascertain whether there are other adult occupants of the premises who are not named in the summons and complaint by inquiring of the person or persons who are being personally served, or any person of suitable age and discretion who appears to reside upon the premises, whether there are other occupants of the premises. If the identity of such an occupant is disclosed to the officer or process server and the occupant is present at the premises, the officer or process server shall serve that occupant with a copy of the prejudgment claim of right to possession attached to a copy of the summons and complaint. If personal service cannot be made upon that occupant at that time, service may be effected by (1) leaving a copy of a prejudgment claim of right to possession attached to a copy of the summons and complaint addressed to that occupant with a person of suitable age and discretion at the premises, (2) affixing the same so that it is not readily removable in a conspicuous place on the premises in a manner most likely to give actual notice to that occupant, and (3) sending the same addressed to that occupant by first-class mail. In addition to the service on an identified occupant, or if no occupant is disclosed to the officer or process server, or if substituted service is made upon the tenant and subtenant, if any, the officer or process server shall serve a prejudgment claim of right to possession for all other persons who may claim to occupy the premises at the time of the filing of the action by (1) leaving a copy of a prejudgment claim of right to possession attached to a copy of the summons and complaint at the premises at the same time service is made upon the tenant and subtenant, if any, (2) affixing the same so that it is not readily removable in a conspicuous place on the premises so that it is likely to give actual notice to an occupant, and (3) sending the same addressed to "all occupants in care of the named tenant" to the premises by first-class mail. The person serving process shall state the date of service on the prejudgment claim of right to possession form. However, the absence of the date of service on the prejudgment claim of right to possession does not invalidate the claim.
(d) Proof of service under this section shall be filed with the court and shall include a statement that service was made pursuant to this section. Service on occupants in accordance with this section shall not alter or affect service upon the tenant or subtenant, if any.
(e) If an owner or his or her agent has directed and obtained service of a prejudgment claim of right to possession in accordance with this section, no occupant of the premises, whether or not such occupant is named in the judgment for possession, may object to the enforcement of that judgment as prescribed in Section 1174.3.
(f) The prejudgment claim of right to possession shall be made on the following form:

415.47. (a) Where the lessee has given the lessor written notice of the lessee's intent not to abandon leased real property as provided in Section 1951.3 of the Civil Code, the summons in an action for unlawful detainer of the real property may be served on the lessee by certified mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the lessee at the address stated in the lessee's notice of intent not to abandon if such summons is deposited in the mail within 60 days from the date the lessee's notice of intent not to abandon is received by the lessor. Service in this manner is deemed completed on the 10th day after such mailing.
(b) Where the lessee has given the lessor written notice of the lessee's intent not to abandon leased real property as provided in Section 1951.3 of the Civil Code, but failed to include in such notice an address at which the lessee may be served by certified mail in any action for unlawful detainer of the real property, the summons in an action for unlawful detainer of the real property may be served on the lessee by certified mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the lessee at (1) the same address or addresses to which the lessor's notice of belief of abandonment was addressed if that notice was given by mail or (2) the address of the real property if the lessor's notice of belief of abandonment was personally served on the lessee. Service may not be made pursuant to this subdivision unless the summons is deposited in the mail within 60 days from the date the lessee's notice of intent not to abandon is received by the lessor. Service in the manner authorized by this subdivision is deemed completed on the 10th day after such mailing.
(c) This section provides an alternative method of service on the lessee and does not preclude service in any other manner authorized by this chapter.

415.50. (a) A summons may be served by publication if upon affidavit it appears to the satisfaction of the court in which the action is pending that the party to be served cannot with reasonable diligence be served in another manner specified in this article and that either:
(1) A cause of action exists against the party upon whom service is to be made or he or she is a necessary or proper party to the action.
(2) The party to be served has or claims an interest in real or personal property in this state that is subject to the jurisdiction of the court or the relief demanded in the action consists wholly or in part in excluding the party from any interest in the property.
(b) The court shall order the summons to be published in a named newspaper, published in this state, that is most likely to give actual notice to the party to be served and direct that a copy of the summons, the complaint, and the order for publication be forthwith mailed to the party if his or her address is ascertained before expiration of the time prescribed for publication of the summons. Except as otherwise provided by statute, the publication shall be made as provided by Section 6064 of the Government Code unless the court, in its discretion, orders publication for a longer period.
(c) Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete as provided in Section 6064 of the Government Code.
(d) Notwithstanding an order for publication of the summons, a summons may be served in another manner authorized by this chapter, in which event the service shall supersede any published summons.
(e) As a condition of establishing that the party to be served cannot with reasonable diligence be served in another manner specified in this article, the court may not require that a search be conducted of public databases where access by a registered process server to residential addresses is prohibited by law or by published policy of the agency providing the database, including, but not limited to, voter registration rolls and records of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

416.10. A summons may be served on a corporation by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint:
(a) To the person designated as agent for service of process as provided by any provision in Section 202, 1502, 2105 or 2107 of the Corporations Code (or Sections 3301 to 3303, inclusive, or Sections 6500 to 6504, inclusive, of the Corporations Code as in effect on December 31, 1976 with respect to corporations to which they remain applicable);
(b) To the president or other head of the corporation, a vice president, a secretary or assistant secretary, a treasurer or assistant treasurer, a general manager, or a person authorized by the corporation to receive service of process;
(c) If the corporation is a bank, to a cashier or assistant cashier or to a person specified in subdivision (a) or (b); or
(d) When authorized by any provision in Section 1701, 1702, 2110 or 2111 of the Corporations Code (or Sections 3301 to 3303, inclusive, or Sections 6500 to 6504, inclusive, of the Corporations Code as in effect on December 31, 1976, with respect to corporations to which they remain applicable), as provided by such provision.

416.20. A summons may be served on a corporation that has forfeited its charter or right to do business, or has dissolved, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint:
(a) To a person who is a trustee of the corporation and of its stockholders or members; or
(b) When authorized by any provision in Sections 2011 or 2114 of the Corporations Code (or Sections 3301 to 3303, inclusive, or Sections 6500 to 6504, inclusive, of the Corporations Code as in effect on December 31, 1976, with respect to corporations to which they remain applicable), as provided by such provision.

416.30. A summons may be served on a joint stock company or association by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint as provided by Section 416.10 or 416.20.

416.40. A summons may be served on an unincorporated association (including a partnership) by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint:
(a) If the association is a general or limited partnership, to the person designated as agent for service of process as provided in Section 24003 of the Corporations Code or to a general partner or the general manager of the partnership;
(b) If the association is not a general or limited partnership, to the person designated as agent for service of process as provided in Section 24003 of the Corporations Code or to the president or other head of the association, a vice president, a secretary or assistant secretary, a treasurer or assistant treasurer, a general manager, or a person authorized by the association to receive service of process;
(c) When authorized by Section 15700 or 24007 of the Corporations Code, as provided by the applicable section.

416.50. (a) A summons may be served on a public entity by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the clerk, secretary, president, presiding officer, or other head of its governing body.
(b) As used in this section, "public entity" includes the state and any office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or agency of the state, the Regents of the University of California, a county, city, district, public authority, public agency, and any other political subdivision or public corporation in this state.

416.60. A summons may be served on a minor by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to his parent, guardian, conservator, or similar fiduciary, or, if no such person can be found with reasonable diligence, to any person having the care or control of such minor or with whom he resides or by whom he is employed, and to the minor if he is at least 12 years of age.

416.70. A summons may be served on a person (other than a minor) for whom a guardian, conservator, or similar fiduciary has been appointed by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to his guardian, conservator, or similar fiduciary and to such person, but, for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending may dispense with delivery to such person.

416.80. When authorized by Section 11 of the Elections Code, a summons may be served as provided by that section.

416.90. A summons may be served on a person not otherwise specified in this article by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to such person or to a person authorized by him to receive service of process.

417.10. Proof that a summons was served on a person within this state shall be made:
(a) If served under Section 415.10, 415.20, or 415.30, by the affidavit of the person making such service showing the time, place, and manner of service and facts showing that such service was made in accordance with this chapter. Such affidavit shall recite or in other manner show the name of the person to whom a copy of the summons and of the complaint were delivered, and, if appropriate, his title or the capacity in which he is served, and that the notice required by Section 412.30 appeared on the copy of the summons served, if in fact it did appear. If service is made by mail pursuant to Section 415.30, proof of service shall include the acknowledgement of receipt of summons in the form provided by that section or other written acknowledgment of receipt of summons satisfactory to the court.
(b) If served by publication pursuant to Section 415.50, by the affidavit of the publisher or printer, or his foreman or principal clerk, showing the time and place of publication, and an affidavit showing the time and place a copy of the summons and of the complaint were mailed to the party to be served, if in fact mailed.
(c) If served pursuant to another statute of this state, in the manner prescribed by such statute or, if no manner is prescribed, in the manner prescribed by this section for proof of a similar manner of service.
(d) By the written admission of the party.
(e) If served by posting pursuant to Section 415.45, by the affidavit of the person who posted the premises, showing the time and place of posting, and an affidavit showing the time and place copies of the summons and of the complaint were mailed to the party to be served, if in fact mailed.
(f) All proof of personal service shall be made on a form adopted by the Judicial Council.

417.20. Proof that a summons was served on a person outside this state shall be made:
(a) If served in a manner specified in a statute of this state, as prescribed by Section 417.10, and if service is made by mail pursuant to Section 415.40, proof of service shall include evidence satisfactory to the court establishing actual delivery to the person to be served, by a signed return receipt or other evidence;
(b) In the manner prescribed by the court order pursuant to which the service is made;
(c) Subject to any additional requirements that may be imposed by the court in which the action is pending, in the manner prescribed by the law of the place where the person is served for proof of service in an action in its courts of general jurisdiction; or
(d) By the written admission of the party.
(e) If served by posting pursuant to Section 415.45, by the affidavit of the person who posted the premises, showing the time and place of posting, and an affidavit showing the time and place copies of the summons and of the complaint were mailed to the party to be served, if in fact mailed.

417.30. (a) After a summons has been served on a person, the summons must be returned together with proof of service as provided in Section 417.10 or 417.20, unless the defendant has previously made a general appearance.
(b) If a summons is lost after service has been made but before it is returned, an affidavit of the person who made the service showing the time, place, and manner of service and facts showing that such service was made in accordance with this chapter may be returned with the same effect as if the summons itself were returned.

417.40. Any proof of service which is signed by a person registered under Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 22350) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code or his employee or independent contractor shall indicate the county in which he is registered and the number assigned to him pursuant to Section 22355 of the Business and Professions Code.