United States of America - Central Authority & practical information

Central Authority:

Office of International Judicial Assistance 
Civil Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Benjamin Franklin Station
P.O. Box 14360
Washington, D.C. 20044
United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 514-6700
Email: OIJA@usdoj.gov

Contact persons:

Outsourcing of Central Authority's activities to ABC Legal

Please see Notification sent by the Depositary (i.e. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands) on 28 January 2020, here.

Contact details:

Address: ABC Legal Services
1099 Stewart St., Suite 700
Seattle, WA 98101
United States of America
Telephone: +1 (206) 521-9000
E-mail: internationalinfo@abclegal.com
General website: https://www.abclegal.com/international-service-of-process
Contact person:  
Languages spoken by staff: English, Spanish, French


Practical Information:

Forwarding authorities
(Art. 3(1)):
The persons and entities within the United States competent to transmit service requests abroad pursuant to Article 3 include any court official, any attorney, or any other person or entity authorized by the rules of the court. The United States Central Authority plays no role in service requests involving persons or parties located abroad in private litigation matters and such requests are transmitted by the forwarding authorities in the United States directly to the requested State.
Methods of service
(Art. 5(1)(2)):

Formal Service (Art. 5(1)(a))

Personal service is the method used by ABC Legal Services (ABC Legal) in executing all requests. 

Requests for service must be accompanied by the Hague Service Convention Model Form, transmitted in duplicate with a complete translation (one set will be served and the other will be returned by ABC Legal with a certificate of service), and include the full name and address for the person or entity to be served. 

Requests should also provide a contact email and phone number for the foreign applicant so ABC Legal can attempt to correct any mistakes or deficiencies before returning a request unexecuted, if needed.  

Requests for service on private individuals and companies can be mailed, but they can also be transmitted electronically to ABC Legal, along with proof of payment, or they can be uploaded on ABC Legal’s website: https://www.abclegal.com/international-service-of-process

Requests for service on the United States Government, which includes its officials (when named in an official capacity), departments, agencies, or instrumentalities, should be mailed directly to the U.S. Central Authority, Department of Justice, Office of International Judicial Assistance, P.O. Box 14360, Washington, DC 20044 USA. There is no fee for service requests designated for the United States Government. For more information, please see OIJA’s Guidance on Service on the U.S. Government available on OIJA’s website: https://www.justice.gov/civil/service-requests.

Informal delivery (Art. 5(2))
Informal service is authorized within the United States through a variety of methods, provided no compulsion is used and the method chosen is otherwise effective under applicable law, for example: (1) by members of diplomatic or consular missions in the United States; (2) by mail; or (3) by private persons. The requesting authority would make arrangements for service using one of these informal means without involvement from the U.S. Central Authority or ABC Legal.

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 ABC Legal, must be translated into English, along with a translation of the underlying documents, although papers solely in French will be served as well. All follow-up correspondence must also be sent in English or with an English translation. 

Please note there is no similar requirement for translation of documents to be served through informal means such as mail, consular channels, or privately retained process servers. If service is challenged by the defendant, some courts may rule that untranslated requests sent through informal mechanisms are not enforceable as a matter of due process, if the recipient was not provided with sufficient notice of the nature of the proceedings and an opportunity to respond.

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

All formal service requests on private individuals or companies under Article 5(1) must be sent directly to ABC Legal and accompanied by a $95.00 processing fee (or proof of payment). Payment of the fee can be made by Visa, MasterCard, most international credit cards, bank transfers, international money orders, and cashier’s checks payable to ABC Legal Services. Personal checks are not accepted. 

All service requests must comply with the payment schedule and method of payment described on ABC Legal’s website: https://www.abclegal.com/international-service-of-process/payment-information. ABC Legal’s website provides specific guidance on methods of payment. All service requests unaccompanied by proper payment in the manner indicated will be returned without processing.

ABC Legal can accept requests for service by email or uploaded through their website so long as proof of payment is included, or payment is made online. 

ABC Legal will attempt to resolve issues with incomplete or incorrect addresses by finding the closest possible match to the address provided in the request. If, in the course of attempts to serve, it is discovered that the subject or entity can no longer be found at the requested address, ABC Legal provides a complimentary investigation search to locate the subject. If a valid “new” address is identified, ABC Legal will confirm with the foreign applicant whether a new attempt at service should be made at a cost of another $95.00 payment. 

ABC Legal, however, does not serve papers upon the United States Government or its departments, agencies or instrumentalities. Such service requests must be directed to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Judicial Assistance. There is no fee for service requests designated for the United States Government. For more information, please see OIJA’s Guidance on Service on the U.S. Government, available on OIJA’s website: https://www.justice.gov/civil/service-requests.

Time for execution of request:

ABC Legal is required to complete service of documents for return to the foreign applicant within thirty (30) business days of receipt. In addition, ABC Legal will accept requests for expedited service and will attempt to serve the documents within seven (7) business days of receipt, without charging an additional fee. Expedited service must be specifically requested, otherwise, service will be completed within thirty (30) business days of receipt. 

You may contact ABC Legal anytime at internationalinfo@abclegal.com or (001) 206-521-9000 for a status update. Foreign applicants who upload their service request through ABC Legal’s website can track their request status online.

Judicial officers, officials or other competent persons
(Art. 10(b))
The United States does not have a system of transmission between huissiers. That said, the United States has no objection to huissiers contacting ABC Legal directly. Attorneys in the United States are authorized to perform legal functions in the state to which they are admitted to the bar.
Oppositions and declarations
(Art. 21(2)):
Click here to read all the declarations made by this State under the Service Convention.
Art. 8(2):

Consular officers of the United States are prohibited by regulation from serving legal process or appointing other persons to do so abroad. See, Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 92.85.


Art. 10(a):

No opposition 

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.

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:

Office of International Judicial Assistance

Office of International Judicial Assistance – Service Requests

ABC Legal Services  

U.S. Department of State – Service of Process

Competent authorities
(Arts 6, 9)
Other authorities
(Art. 18)

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