How to Serve Court Papers by Mail in California
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NOTE: If you are serving a Summons, Complaint, Order to Show Cause, Ex Parte Notice of Motion, Subpoena, Restraining Order, or Order for Examination, your documents cannot be served by mail.
All documents filed at the court in your case must be served on all other parties. Some documents, such as discovery requests and responses, are not filed with the court but must still be served.
You cannot serve your own documents.
Documents must be served by someone over 18 who is not a party to the case.
After completing your documents, make three copies. If there is more than one other party in the case, make an additional set of copies for each party. The original and two copies will be filed with the court. Give the remaining copies to the person mailing the documents. For each party to be served, the person mailing the documents must:
- Put one copy of your documents in an envelope, along with a filled-out Proof of Service.
- Address the envelope to the person being served at the address listed on the Summons. If the party is represented by an attorney, the attorney, rather than the party, should be served. Adequate postage must be on the envelope. Make a copy of the envelope for the party's records.
- Deposit the envelope with the US Postal Service, either at the post office, or in a regular post office mail box. If the server's place of business has regular mail pick-up, and mail deposited in the business's outgoing mail is delivered to the post office the same day, the envelope may be placed in the outgoing mail drop.
- Complete a Proof of Service by Mail (POS-030). Click here for instructions for completing a Proof of Service by Mail.
- If more than one party is being served, attach form POS-030(P) and list all persons to whom copies were mailed.
- If there is not enough room on POS-030 to list all the documents being served, attach form POS-030(D) and list each document served.
The Proof of Service must be filed with the court, along with the documents served. If the documents served do not need to be filed with the court, do not file the proof of service. Retain the signed Proof of Service for your records. Documents can be filed with the court by the person performing service, a party to the action, or anyone else.
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updated 5/12 mpj