About The Hague Convention
The intention of the Hague Convention is to provide a method of service of process in civil and
commercial matters among the signatories to the convention and eliminates the need to use
consular or diplomatic channels to serve process.
Each contracting state has to designate a Central Authority that will receive requests from other
signatory states and which will conform to its own laws. Generally litigants will utilize this Central
Authority for service of process. If the Central Authority is of the opinion that the request does not
comply with the terms of the convention it should speedily inform the applicant and specify why the
request is being refused.
Litigants using the Central Authority to effect service must file a formal request form with the
Authority, in the U.S. using a special form.
The convention does not specify a time frame for service but provides for alternative methods of
service if there has been no response by a Central Authority to a request after six months. Because
there is no specified time frame Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure exempts service in a foreign country from the usual requirement that a summons and complaint must be served within 120 days of filing.
There is provision in Article 10(a) of the convention for the direct service of documents to persons
abroad by postal channels provided this is allowable by the country where the documents are
being sent. There is some argument in U.S. courts whether this provision allows service of process
or judicial documents served after suit has been instituted. It is generally accepted though that
this provision does allow service of process as this is the position taken by a large majority of the
signatory states. Service by registered mail is deemed to be the most effective way of service by
mail as some courts approve of this method while ruling service by ordinary mail to be ineffective.
Article 10 (b) and (c) allows for service between contracting states by direct means provided the
country of destination has no objection to this means of service. The agent ,usually a judicial officer, official or other competent person, will be of the country involved.
The most effective method of service is through the designated Central Authority but where time is
critical direct service, where permitted, may be a faster alternative.
A final warning when serving process abroad; If a plaintiff is seeking monetary damages always use the formal method which is through the central authority – Otherwise your final judgment will not be enforced in the foreign country.
If you need assistance with International Service of Process – Call my office at 1-800-852-5002 to get more detailed advice, information and action steps.