process server in California

In California, the number of days before court you must be served with a summons and complaint depends on the method of service used. With the help of a process server in California, it’s now possible to have the documents served within a shorter time frame.

This expedited service ensures that all parties involved have adequate time to prepare for their legal proceedings.

Here’s a breakdown:

Personal Service by a Process Server

Hiring a professional process server is recommended if you’re looking for the most reliable way to ensure someone receives court documents.

In California, for most cases, personal service must be completed at least 16 court days before the court date. A court day is any day the court is open, typically Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

If the recipient resides outside of California, they must be served at least 20 days before the court date.

Here’s how to calculate the deadline:

  • Find your court date on the summons.
  • Count backwards 16 court days, excluding weekends and court holidays.
  • Add 5 calendar days to that date.


This is the latest date by which the process server must complete service. Initiate the service process well before the deadline to avoid any last-minute complications.

Service by Mail

Serving by mail is an option, but the timeline is slightly different. If both the sender and recipient are in California, the recipient is considered served five days after the documents are mailed.

However, if either the sender or recipient is located outside of California, the recipient is considered served ten days after the documents are mailed if you mail them from California. Add 5 days if you mailed from outside the state.

Why Use a Process Server?

While service by mail seems like a simpler option, it can be unreliable. Here’s why the role of a process server is advantageous:

  • Guaranteed Delivery: A process server ensures the recipient receives the documents by hand, providing an affidavit as proof of service. This eliminates any potential claims of non-receipt that could delay your court case.
  • Timely Service: Process servers understand the importance of adhering to court deadlines. They ensure service is completed well within the required timeframe.
  • Difficult Serves: If you’re unsure of the recipient’s whereabouts, a process server has the experience and resources to locate them and deliver the documents.

Finding a Reputable Process Server in California

When searching for a process server in California, look for companies that prioritize the following:

  • Registered and Bonded: Ensure the process server is registered with their local county and bonded to protect you in case of any errors or omissions during service.
  • Experience and Knowledge: Choose a company with a proven track record and staff well-versed in California’s laws and procedures on process serving.
  • Communication and Customer Service: Select a company that offers clear communication throughout the service process and prioritizes excellent customer service.


By following these guidelines, you can ensure your court documents are served correctly and within the required timeframe, allowing your case to proceed smoothly.

Jason Burke

Jason Burke is a self-made man who knows that hard work pays off. He has dedicated his life to helping other people with their legal problems, and he loves every minute of it!

He has over 24 years of experience in the field, all of which are focused on serving papers. Jason serves papers regulatory and for the last couple of years has served almost everything in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Western Contra Costa Counties himself.

He pepares every single proof of service that D&R Legal Process Service produces to ensure that clients receive the highest quality they have come to expect from them.

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