Service of Process Definition

Service of Process is the legal procedure of delivering legal documents, such as lawsuits or subpoenas, to individuals or businesses to inform them about pending legal actions or court proceedings.

Starts at $0 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes

Excellent 4.8 out of 5 stars 15,717 reviews

The service of process definition relates to a legal procedure that officially notifies an individual or business that a legal action has been taken against it. 

How does service of process work? 

Your business has a right to be notified of any legal action against it. The individual or company taking the action is legally responsible for providing service of process to notify you that a lawsuit has been filed. This is the heart of service of process, meaning that you will be presumed to have been notified of the pending legal action. The term “service of process” may also relate to the delivery of a subpoena requiring an individual to testify in court. 

Every state—and the federal government—has its own laws on what constitutes proper service of process. Some states require the process server to hand-deliver the lawsuit paperwork to the appropriate party. Other states require that the paperwork is mailed directly to the business by the court clerk. The deadline for the plaintiff’s response is determined by the date the documents were delivered. 

Do you need an agent for service of process? 

If your limited liability company, corporation, or other legal entity is sued, the person filing the suit needs to know where to serve the paperwork for proper notification. As a business owner, you wouldn’t want this information delivered to someone who isn’t authorized to receive it.

Because being notified of pending legal actions is at the heart of our legal system, all states require limited liability companies and corporations to have a registered agent when the business is formed. A court can throw out a lawsuit for service of a process deemed inappropriate, improper, or ineffective. Getting the paperwork to the intended recipient is crucial. 

What does a registered agent for service of process do?

A registered agent is responsible for accepting all legal and business documents and correspondence on behalf of the business. “Statutory agent” is another name for this person or company.

The registered agent is responsible for receiving documents and forwarding them to the proper person within the business. If your business does not have a registered agent or would like to change your registered agent, we can help. 

Professional service of process benefits

If you need to serve legal documents to someone, choosing a dedicated professional process server is one way to make sure it is done properly. Generally, service of process can be made by someone who is over the age of 18 and not a part of the lawsuit.

Hiring a professional process server can provide important peace of mind when filing a lawsuit against a business. 

It is important to check with your individual state requirements to determine the method of service necessary to fulfill all legal requirements. 

Professional service of process disadvantages

Cost is the only disadvantage of hiring a professional process server. Many process-serving companies provide training for their employees on how to properly identify the correct person who needs to be served with the least amount of conflict. 


Service of process is the procedure that a party to a lawsuit uses to give appropriate notice of legal action to the other party. Every state has its own service of process requirements. 

How we can help 

Whether you are the person filing the lawsuit or the one being sued, proper service of process is crucial to move the case forward. Make sure you have a registered agent available to receive documents throughout the process. 

One of the best ways to avoid legal issues is to make sure your business is organized and compliant. We can help with our Worry-Free Compliance Service and Zen Money App to keep track of invoices and payments. We’re here to help make running your business easier.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

zenbusiness logo

Written by Team ZenBusiness

Start Your LLC