I have compiled below a list of those states with statewide licensing laws and those states
having cities or other jurisdictions in which some form of regulation has been enacted. Bear
in mind that these laws appear in the statutes of the individual states and, with the exception
of Arizona, do not appear in the state's Rules of Civil Procedure.
What follows is my own
summary of the statutes, which is intended only as a guide to point readers in the
direction of the relevant law. Those states in which authorization to serve is granted by
special order, standing order, appointment of elisor, or some other form of judicial appointment
are not included.
Gary A. Crowe, Administrator
STATES WITH STATEWIDE LICENSING LAWS
Process servers are licensed by the Commissioner of Public Safety. A
$15,000 surety bond is required to be posted by each process server.
The bond applies primarily to theft that may arise out of levies and
executions. Applicants must pass a written examination.
[Alaska Administrative Code, Title 13, section 067.5 thru 067.100]
Arizona has statewide registration of process servers in compliance
with procedures set forth by the Arizona Supreme Court. Applicants
must be 21 and a bona fide resident for one year immediately preceding
application. Applicants must pass a written examination.
No bonding or insurance required.
[Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(e)]
Persons who serve more than 10 papers a year are required to be
registered in the county in which they operate. Registration is valid
statewide. Applicants must be a resident for one year immediately
preceding filing. Each applicant is required to post a $2,000 bond or
cash deposit. No testing or education required. Licensed private
investigators, although exempt from the registration requirement,
would probably not be empowered to serve bank levies and similar
documents without being registered in view of the statutory language requiring that a
registered process server serve those documents.
[California Business and Professions Code §22350 and §22353]
There is no statewide licensing law in Illinois; however, a person licensed in Illinois as a
"private detective" may serve original process in all counties except for Cook County without
special appointment. In order for PIs to serve in Cook County, the court upon motion and in its
discretion, may appoint a "private detective agency" as a special process server in lieu of an
individual. It is not necessary that service be made only by a sheriff or PI. Private persons
over the age of 18, upon motion, may be appointed by the court to serve original process.
[Illinois Compiled Statutes §5/2-202]
Any person who makes more than 10 services of process in any 1 calendar year must be registered.
The registration certificate also empowers the process server to act as a levying officer and
requires process servers to have a "surety bond" of $10,000 per individual or $100,000 per firm.
Process servers cannot levy on an amount in excess of their bond. Applicants must pass a
written examination based on the Handbook for Process Servers, which is published by the Montana
Department of Commerce.
[Montana Code Annotated §25-1-1101 and §25-1-1111]
All persons who engage in business as a process server must be licensed. Applicants must be 21
or over, have 2 years experience as a process server, and have insurance for protection against
liability to third persons with limits of not less than $200,000. No bonding is required.
Applicants must deposit $750 at time of application to pay for a background investigation,
the cost of which must be paid for by applicant up to a maximum of $1500. Applicants must pass a
written application and may be required to pass an oral examination. Licenses are issued by the
Nevada Private Investigator's Licensing Board. The most expensive state in the nation in which
to get licensed.
[Nevada Revised Statutes §648.110 and §648.135]
Process servers are required to be licensed, and all licensees must execute a bond "running to
the State of Oklahoma in the amount of $5,000 for faithful performance of his or her duties..."
Applicants may pay a fee of $35 and be licensed to serve process in the county in which the
license is issued, or applicant may pay a fee of $150 and be licensed statewide. The license
states that process servers are officers of the court only for the service of process.
No testing or education required.
[Oklahoma Statutes Annotated §12-158.1]
Effective July 1, 2005, the Texas Supreme Court adopted changes to Rules 103 and 536(a) of the
Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (TRCP) which pertain to the statewide Certification of process
servers. Go to the Texas Supreme Court's website at www.courts.state.tx.us/psrb/psrbhome.asp for a
full explanation of the new rules and the procedure for becoming certified in all Texas courts.
A person who serves legal process for a fee in the State of Washington is required to register
with the auditor of the county in which the process server resides or operates his or her
principal place of business and pay a $10 fee. No testing and no requirement for insurance or
bonding. Easiest and most inexpensive state in which to get a license.
[Revised Code of Washington §18.180.010]
STATES WITH LOCAL LICENSING LAWS
Sheriffs in certain counties (currently about seven) will appoint individuals as a special
process server. Applicants must be at least 18, be a permanent resident of the state,
submit to an examination and execute a $5,000 bond.
[Florida Statutes § 48.021]
The chief judge of each judicial circuit is empowered to certify process servers to serve
process, and currently judges in approximately 30 counties grant such certifications.
The requirements for becoming certified are essentially the same as the requirements for being
appointed a special process server by the sheriff.
[Florida Statutes § 48.27 § 48.29]
City of St. Louis (22nd Judicial District) (pop. 400,000) requires that all persons who want to
become process servers must take and pass a training course (5 nights of classroom instruction
with written examination) administered by the Sheriff of the City of St. Louis. Applicants must
be 21 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED and no criminal record. All process servers
are required to have E&O coverage with limits of at least $100,000.
City of New York (pop. 8 million) requires all persons who serve process within its 5 boroughs
(Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens) to be licensed through the NYC Department of
Consumer Affairs. There is no requirement for insurance or bonding and no educational
requirement or testing.
[Rules of the City of New York, subchapter W, §2.231, et seq and §20-403, et seq.]