Service of Process
On June 1, 2003, the Department of Justice
delegated the service of incoming foreign civil process to a private
contractor, Process Forwarding International (PFI).
Although there may still be instances where the
Department of Justice specially requests the Marshal to personally serve
foreign civil process in the United States, this service of process function
is now being handled through the Government contractor, PFI.
The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for
service of foreign process as assigned by the
Civil Division, Office of Foreign Litigation, Department of Justice.
U.S. Marshals are not authorized to travel to foreign countries to
deliver subpoenas in either criminal or civil cases. Service on foreign
states or their agencies or instrumentalities must be made in accordance
with the relevant provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of
28 USC 1608.
The Hague Service Convention became
effective in the United States in 1969. By joining the Convention, the
United States government undertook a reciprocal treaty obligation toward
those countries which have also adopted the Convention, to serve in the
United States documents issued by foreign judicial authorities. By its
terms, the Convention applies only to foreign documents which are
related to civil or commercial cases; it does not apply to documents
which relate to criminal proceedings.
By executive order, the president has
designated the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the "central authority"
for the United States. Under Article 2 of the Convention the assistant
attorney general in charge of the Civil Division is responsible for
directing and supervising the functions of the "central authority" (28
28 USC 1781,
the Department of State is empowered to receive from foreign courts
requests for service of foreign judicial documents and to transmit them
to the appropriate agency of the United States Government for execution.
Requests so received through diplomatic channels are transmitted to the
Department of Justice, who in turn refers them to the appropriate U.S.
Marshal's office with instructions that the requests be executed in the
same manner as are service requests under the Hague Service Convention.
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;
U.S. Attorney's Office and District Court for
specific, authoritative guidance.