Notification pursuant to Article 31 of the Convention
(…) inform the Ministry (…) of certain developments regarding the way judicial assistance is afforded to foreign tribunals and to litigants before such tribunals by the Government of the United States of America.
The Department of Justice of the United States of America has informed the Department of State that its Office of International Judicial Assistance has renewed its contract for service of international judicial and extrajudicial documents with ABC Legal Services (ABC Legal). The new contract started on January 15, 2020, with options to extend through January 31, 2025. Since 2003, the Department of Justice has assigned the ministerial act of serving and transmitting documents in response to service requests submitted pursuant to the Hague Service Convention to ABC Legal (formerly known as PFI or Process Forwarding International). The U.S. Central Authority remains the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Judicial Assistance, notwithstanding the assignment of certain service functions to a private contractor.
ABC Legal ceased operating as Process Forwarding International (PFI) and thus all service requests should refer only to ABC Legal Services. All requests for service on private individuals and companies should be mailed to ABC Legal at the address below or submitted electronically:
ABC Legal Services
633 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104
United States of America
Telephone: (001) 206-521-9000
Requests for service on the United States Government itself, which includes its officials (when named in an official capacity), departments, agencies, or instrumentalities, should be mailed directly to the Department of Justice's Office of International Judicial Assistance:
Office of International Judicial Assistance
U.S. Department of Justice
Benjamin Franklin Station
P.O. Box 14360
Washington, D.C. 20044
United States of America
Telephone: (001) 202-514-6700
ABC Legal is responsible for executing requests for service in the following areas: the United States (the 50 states and the District of Columbia), Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Requests for service of judicial or extrajudicial documents on private individuals and companies that are sent pursuant to the Hague Service Convention must include a $95.00 payment. Failure to include proof of the required payment may result in rejection of the request for service. In addition to complying with the relevant requirements for the method of service chosen, requests should provide a contact email and phone number for the foreign applicant so ABC Legal can attempt to correct any deficiencies before returning a request unexecuted, if needed. ABC Legal can accept requests for service by email or uploaded online through their website so long as proof of payment is included, or if payment is made online. The Hague Service Convention Model Form must be included in all requests for service transmitted under that Convention.
For detailed information on requests for service, please visit the Office of International Judicial Assistance's website at https://www.justice.gov/civil/office-international-judicial-assistance-0 and ABC Legal's updated website at https://www.abclegal.com/international-service-of-process.
The United States notes there is no requirement under U.S. Federal law that requests for service on private individuals and companies in the United States be sent to ABC Legal for execution. The United States has no objection to the informal delivery of such documents by members of diplomatic or consular missions in the United States, or through mail, or by private persons - if effective under applicable law - provided no compulsion is used.
Notification pursuant to Article 31 of the Convention
"[ ... ] inform the Ministry ... of certain developments regarding the way judicial assistance is afforded to foreign tribunals and to litigants before such tribunals by the Government of the United States. Since 2003, the Department of Justice of the United States of America has contracted the service of process function performed by the Central Authority to a private contractor to handle requests for service of process in civil and commercial matters in the United States pursuant to the Hague Service Convention.
The Department of Justice of the United States of America has informed the Department of State that, on February 1, 2015, it renewed its contract for the service of process function with ABC Legal, which does business as Process Forwarding International located in Seattle, Washington. The new contract will run through January 31, 2016, with the option to extend the contract through January 31, 2020. The use of a private contractor to perform the service of process function does not imply the designation of a new U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Service Convention, but rather reflects the delegation of certain activities conducted by the U.S. Central Authority, which remains the U.S. Department of Justice.
Process Forwarding International is the only private process server company authorized to act on behalf of the United States to receive requests for service, proceed to serve the documents, and complete the certificate of service . Process Forwarding International is responsible for executing requests for service of process in the following areas: the United States (the fifty states and the District of Columbia), Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Personal service will be the preferred method used in executing all requests. In the event personal service is impracticable to effect, Process Forwarding International will serve process by such other method or methods as may be permitted under the law of the jurisdliction in which service is to be effected. As was the case in previous contract, Process Forwarding International is required to complete service of documents for return tom the foreign requester within 30 business days of receipt. In addition, under the new contract, Process Forwarding International will accept requests for expedited service, service within seven (7) business days of receipt, without charging an additional fee. Expedited service must be specifically requested; if it is not, service will be completed within 30 business days of receipt.
All requests for service of process should be transmitted to:
Process Forwarding International
633 Yesler Way
Seattle, Washington 98104
Telephone : 001-206-521-2979
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. For requests made under the Hague Service Convention, the Model Form for that Convention must be used.
There will continue to be a fee for service of process requests from persons in countries party to the Hague Service Convention. The service fees for requests under the Hague Service Convention will remain $95 through the expiration of the contract on January 31, 2016. There is no additional fee for expedited service requests. 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 on Process Forwarding International's website. 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 Process Forwarding International's website.
The United States notes that there is no requirement under U.S .. federal law that requests for service be sent to 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."
By a Note dated 22 April 1970 the Embassy of the United States of America informed the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs as follows:
"Under Article 2 of the Convention, each State is required to designate a Central Authority to receive requests for service of documents coming from other countries. Although this Central Authority always is to be available, its use is not compulsory and there is provision (Articles 8 through 11) for service through channels outside the Central Authority, including service by diplomatic or consular officers. These provisions are optional, however, and, since consular officers of the United States are prohibited by regulation from serving legal process or appointing other persons to do so, the United States will not avail itself of these provisions of the Convention. It is anticipated that courts in the United States will be advised by the Department of Justice of the possibility of sending requests for service of legal process directly to the Central Authority of the country concerned.
3. In accordance with the second paragraph of Article 15, it is declared that the judge may, notwithstanding the provisions of the first paragraph of Article 15, give judgment even if no certificate of service or delivery has been received, if all the conditions specified in subdivisions (a), (b) and (c) of the second paragraph of Article 15 are fulfilled.
4. In accordance with the third paragraph of Article 16, it is declared that an application under Article 16 will not be entertained if it is filed (a) after the expiration of the period within which the same may be filed under the procedural regulations of the court in which the judgment has been entered, or (b) after the expiration of one year following the date of the judgment, whichever is later.
5. In accordance with Article 29, it is declared that the Convention shall extend to all the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands."