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Service of Process

For the service of any process, the form "USMS-285" is utilized by the U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Court. One complete set of this form (USM-285) and one copy of each writ for each individual, company, corporation, etc., to be served or property to be seized or condemned must be submitted.

The applicable fees for such service(s) (T28, USC Sec. 1921 establishes the fees for service of process by the U.S. Marshal) may be required prior to said service.

A hand with a pen writing on a paper


The U.S. Marshals Service, by carrying out federal court orders, becomes involved in admiralty matters of two types: actions that enforce maritime liens or actions against a person or persons. The U.S. Marshal can be directed by a warrant or writ to arrest, attach, or garnishee the vessel, property, or cargo and to hold it pending further order of the court.

Civil Process

The U.S. Marshals Service is primarily responsible for the service of civil process (except for a summons and complaint or subpoena unless directed to do so by the federal court). If service of civil process can more easily be effected by someone other than U.S. Marshals Service personnel, the court or the U.S. Attorney may appoint or approve an alternative server.

Criminal Process

Historically, the U.S. Marshals Service has taken responsibility for serving most Federal court criminal process. However, the courts have become more receptive to other law enforcement personnel serving criminal process.

Foreign Process

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for service of foreign process as assigned by the Civil Division, Office of Foreign Litigation (OFL), Department of Justice. U.S. Marshals are not authorized to travel to foreign countries to deliver subpoenas in either criminal or civil cases.


The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for conducting sales under writ of execution, judicial sales, judicial foreclosure sales, and forfeited or condemned property.

Process Receipt and Return: Instructions by U.S. Marshals Service

Interested parties should contact the appropriate local U.S. Marshals Service District office to determine if PDF versions of the form are accepted for the service of process.

  • The Form USM-285 is a five-copy form set designed as a control document for process served by a U.S. Marshal or designee. Process may include, but is not limited to, a summons and complaint, subpoena, writ, or court order. The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is authorized by law (28 U.S.C. 1921) to charge fees for the service of process. The amount of fees charged is established by regulation (28 C.F.R. 0.114). Except in cases where the litigant has been granted permission by the court for waiver of prepayment of fees and costs, the U.S. Marshals Service must request advance payment of the estimated fees and expenses for service of process.
  • Please type or print legibly. Submit one copy of the Form USM-285 and one copy of each process for each individual, company, corporation, government agency, etc., to be served or property to be seized.
  • In cases where the court has directed the U.S. Marshals Service to effect service of a summons and complaint upon an officer or agent of the United States Government, submit a copy of the summons and complaint and Form USM-285 for each officer or agent upon whom service is desired. Submit two (2) additional copies of the summons and complaint for service upon the Government of the United States. The U.S. Marshal or designee will serve one copy upon the U.S. Attorney and will forward the other copy to the Attorney General of the United States. (When the applicable box is checked, completion of the final signature block by the U.S. Marshal or designee certifies service on the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Attorney General, regardless of whether other defendants on the summons were served). Failure to provide sufficient copies will delay service of the summons.
  • Mark all applicable check boxes and use the "Special Instructions" to advise of any information that will assist the U.S. Marshals Service in expediting service. You are responsible for providing accurate and sufficient information that will identify the individual or entity to be served or the property to be seized.
  • If more than one item of process and Form USM-285 is submitted on a single case, the U.S. Marshal or designee will receipt for all of them on the first Form USM-285. You will receive for your records the "Acknowledgment of Receipt" copy for all the USM-285 forms you submit. When the process is served, you will receive the "Notice of Service" copy. This copy will be identical to the return to the Clerk of the U.S. District Court.
  • Upon completion of all services, you will receive a "Billing Statement" copy of Form USM-285. You should return this "Billing Statement" copy to the U.S. Marshals Service, together with your payment, in the form of a certified or bank check payable to the U.S. Marshal, for any amounts still owed. Alternatively, the U.S. Marshals Service will accept cash. The U.S. Marshals Service will not accept personal checks.
  • Additional USM-285 forms may be obtained, without cost, from the Clerk of the U.S. District Court, U.S. Marshal, or printed from USM-285.

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.