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U.S. Marshals Service

Service of Process

Civil Subpoena

A subpoena commands the appearance of an individual and/or the production of specified items on a specific date, time, and place. The rules for service of a subpoena in bankruptcy cases follow the rules for service of a civil subpoena.

Territorial Limits: Generally, a civil subpoena may be served within the issuing district or outside of the district but within 100 miles of the place where the deposition, hearing, trial, or production is to take place. However, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(B))(iii), the court may, upon proper showing of need by the requesting party, require a person to travel more than 100 miles to attend trial provided that the individual subpoenaed is reasonably compensated. A subpoena for the attendance of a witness at a deposition must be issued from the court in which the deposition is to be taken. A subpoena for the attendance of a witness at a trial must be issued by the court in which the trial is to be held.

Issued By:  The clerk of the U.S. District or Bankruptcy Court signs and issues the subpoena to the requesting party, who will complete it before service. An attorney, as an officer of the court, may also issue and sign a subpoena.

Served By:   A subpoena may be served by any person who is not a party and is at least 18 years of age. Service by a U.S. Marshal is rare, occurring only when ordered by the court or the U.S. attorney.

Manner of Service:  A copy of the subpoena must be personally served upon the within-named individual unless local rules permit registered or certified mail service.

Return: Return on service of a civil subpoena is to be filed with the clerk of the issuing court by the individual who effects service. Return should be executed on a copy of the subpoena, either in a designated space on the form or as otherwise required by local rules. No fees must be tendered if the subpoena is issued on behalf of the United States.

Note:  The information related to the service of court process that is contained on this web site is general information and not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive explanation or depiction of Federal rules of procedures for the service of process.  Readers are directed to the Federal Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure; personal legal counsel; the United States Code, Titles 18 and 28; their local U.S. Attorney's Office and District Court for specific, authoritative guidance. is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice