United States of America - Central Authority & practical information

Central Authority(ies):

Central Authority:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Division
Office of International Judicial Assistance
Benjamin Franklin Station
P.O. Box 14360
Washington, D.C. 20004
United States of America
tel.: +1 (202) 514 7455
fax: +1 (202) 514 6584
Contact person: Ms Jeanne Davidson, Director
(language of communication: English)

Outsourcing of Central Authority's activities to Process Forwarding International.

Extract of letter dated 3 December 2009 sent by the United States to the Depositary (i.e. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands). To view the complete letter click here.

"(...) Since 2003, the Department of Justice of the United States of America has delegated the service of process function performed by the Central Authority to a private contractor to handle foreign requests for service of process in civil and commercial matters in the United States pursuant to the Hague Service Convention and the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol (Inter-American Convention), as well as from countries not party to either multilateral convention on service of process.

The Department of Justice of the United States of America has informed the Department of State that, on January 30, 2009, it awarded a new contract for the service of process function to Process Forwarding International located in Seattle, .Washington. The new contract will run for six years and will expire on January 29, 2015. The use of a private contractor to perform the service of process function does not imply the formal designation of a new Central Authority for either the Hague Service Convention or the Inter-American Convention, but rather reflects the delegation of certain activities conducted by the Central Authority, which remains the U.S. Department of Justice (...)" (emphasis added).

To view the letter dated 21 August 2003 sent by the United States to the Depositary, click here.


$95 Flat-Rate for service of process under the Hague Service Convention within the USA and its Territories. Click here for more information.


Contact details:

Address: Process Forwarding International
633 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104
Telephone: +1 206 521 2979
Fax: +1 206 224 3410
E-mail: [email protected]
General website:
Contact person:

Michael Hawkins
Director of Operations
[email protected]
Phone: +1 206-521-2861
Fax: +1 206-224-3410

Karen Adams
Payment Processing
Phone: +1 206-521-2946
Fax: +1 206-224-3410
[email protected]

Languages spoken by staff: English

Practical Information:
(The following information was provided by the relevant State authorities or was obtained from the replies to the Service Convention Questionnaires)

Forwarding authorities
(Art. 3(1)):
The persons and entities within the United States competent to forward service requests pursuant to Article 3 include any court official, any attorney, or any other person or entity authorized by the rules of the court.
Methods of service
(Art. 5(1)(2)):

Formal Service (Art. 5(1)(a))
The United States Central Authority has outsourced to a private contractor, Process Forwarding International, the responsibility for making all formal service pursuant to Article 5(1). Under this contract, Process Forwarding International will execute all service requests using personal service. In the event personal service is impossible to effect, Process Forwarding International will serve such other method or methods as may be permitted under the law of the jurisdiction, including mail service, if authorized.

Requests for service must be transmitted in duplicate with an appropriate translation (one set will be served and the other will be returned by Process Forwarding International with a certificate of service). The full name and street address for the person or entity to be served must be included.

Informal delivery (Art. 5(2))
Informal service is authorized within the United States in a variety ways: through members of diplomatic or consular missions in the United States, through the mails or by private persons if that would be effective under applicable law, provided no compulsion is used. The requesting authority would make arrangements for service using one of these informal means.

Service by a particular method (Art. 5(1)(b))
We are presently unaware of “special requests” that would require service by a means other than those discussed above.

Translation requirements
(Art. 5(3)):
All formal requests for the service of documents made pursuant to Article 5(1), and submitted to Process Forwarding International, must be translated into English, along with a translation of the underlying documents, although papers solely in French will be served as well.

Please note that there is no similar requirement that service made through informal means such as mail, consular channels or privately retained process services be translated. Some courts may rule, however, and typically only if challenged by the defendant, that service of documents not translated into English and made through these informal mechanisms may not provide the recipient with sufficient notice of the nature of the proceeding and an opportunity to respond, and, therefore, not be enforceable as a matter of due process.

Costs relating to execution of the request for service
(Art. 12):

All formal service under Article 5(1) must be sent directly to Process Forwarding International and are assessed a flat fee.

The cost of personal service or service by mail will remain $95.00 USD through the expiration of the contract on 29 January 2015.

Payment of fees may be made by Visa, Mastercard, most international credit cards, bank transfers, international money orders and government-issued checks payable to Process Forwarding International. Personal checks are not accepted. All service requests must comply with the payment schedule and method of payment described. All service requests unaccompanied by proper payment in the manner indicated will be returned without processing. The website for Process Forwarding International provides specific guidance on methods of payment. It will also be possible to check on the status of a service request on the website.

The private contractor, however, does not serve papers upon the United States or its departments, agencies or instrumentalities. Such service requests will be directed to the U.S. Department of Justice for handling. No fee is imposed in such cases.

The United States notes, however, that there is no requirement under U.S. federal law that request for judicial assistance be referred to the Department of State or the Department of Justice's contractor for execution through Process Forwarding International. The United States has no objection to the informal delivery of such documents by members of diplomatic or consular missions in the United States, through the mails or by private persons if that would be effective under applicable law, provided no compulsion is used. The costs or fees associated with the use of privately contracted authorized persons to effect service, would be individually negotiated, and unknown to the United States government.

Time for execution of request: Process Forwarding International has undertaken to complete service of documents for return to the foreign requesting authority within 30 business days of receipt.
Judicial officers, officials or other competent persons
(Art. 10(b)):
The United States does not have a system of transmission between huissiers. That said, we would have no objection to huissiers contacting Process Forwarding International directly. Attorneys in the United States are authorized to perform legal functions in the State to which they are admitted to the bar.
Any person interested in a judicial proceeding and judicial officers, officials or other competent persons
(Art. 10(c)):
We have no difficulties with interested parties initiating service through mail service or through any person or official authorized by the rules of the United States courts.
Oppositions and declarations
(Art. 21(2)):
Click here to read all the declarations and reservations made by the United States under this Convention
Art. 8(2): No opposition
Consular officers of the United States are prohibited by regulation from serving legal process or appointing other persons to do so (see declarations).
Art. 10(a): No opposition
Art. 10(b): No opposition
Art. 10(c): No opposition
Art. 15(2): Declaration of applicability
Art. 16(3): Declaration of applicability

Derogatory channels (bilateral or multilateral agreements or internal law permitting other transmission channels)
(Arts. 11, 19, 24 and 25)

Information may not be complete or fully updated – please contact the relevant authorities to verify this information.

- Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory (Panama City, 13 January 1975).
- Additional Protocol to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory (Montevideo, 8 May 1979)

Although some bilateral consular conventions provide for service of process by consular officers, U.S. consular officers are generally prohibited from doing so unless authorized by the Department of State. See, Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 92.85.

Useful links:

U.S. Department of State - Judicial Assistance / Service of Process Abroad

Process Forwarding International - Hague Service Convention

(This page was last updated on 18 July 2014)

Conventions (incl. Protocols and Principles)