April 30, 2003
Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs
Organization of American States
19th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington D.C. 20006
Re: Service of Process - Inter-American Convention
on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol
Dear Mr. Lagos:
This is to inform the OAS of a change in how requests for service of process will be processed and served by the United States Central Authority in the Department of Justice pursuant to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol. This change in procedure will also encompass service of process pursuant to the Hague Service Convention and Letters Rogatory from non-convention countries.
The Department of Justice of the United States of America has delegated the service of process function to a private contractor, Process Forwarding International of Seattle in the state of Washington. This procedure has not led to the formal designation of a new Central Authority for either the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory or the Hague Service Convention, but rather to the outsourcing of the activities conducted by the Central Authority, which formally remains the U.S. Department of Justice. For the Inter-American Convention and Additional Protocol, the U.S. Central Authority not only receives incoming requests, but also transmits outgoing requests. The Department of Justice has contracted the transmittal of outgoing requests for service of process abroad under the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol to Process Forwarding International. The company will handle incoming requests for service of process in the United States under both the Inter-American and Hague treaties as well as requests from non-Convention countries.
Process Forwarding International will be 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 as well as process out-going requests for service of process abroad under the Inter-American Convention..
Process Forwarding International will be responsible for executing incoming 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.
Process Forwarding International is required to complete service of documents on incoming requests for return to the foreign authority within six weeks after it receives the request. This is much faster than the routing of requests through the Department of Justice for service by the U.S. Marshals Service. Personal service will be the preferred method used on all incoming requests. In the event personal service is impossible to effect, Process Forwarding International will serve process by such other method or methods as may be permitted under the law of the jurisdiction where service is to be effected.
Beginning June 1, 2003, requests should be transmitted to Process Forwarding International, 910 5th Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104 USA, telephone:
(206) 521-2976; fax: 206-224-3410; e-mail:
There will be a fee for service of process requests from any foreign entity, including countries party to the Hague and countries not party to any multilateral treaty on service of process. No fee will be charged for requests under the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol as the United States agreed to no fee services on accession to the Convention. The service fees for requests under the Hague Service Convention and requests from countries not party to any treaty on service of process are:
2003 - Personal service or service by mail $89.00
2004 - Personal service or service by mail $91.00
2005 - Personal service or service by mail $93.00
2006-2007 - Personal service or service by mail $95.00
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 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.
Requests received by the United States during the thirty days prior to the effective date of the new arrangement will be forwarded to Process Forwarding International for service free of charge. All pending requests for service received prior to the effective date will continue to be processed by the United States Department of Justice. Requests received on or after June 1, 2003 will be sent to Process Forwarding International, where they may be rejected for non-compliance with the new fee requirement.
The Department of State has advised that requests for service through the diplomatic channel for countries not party to the Hague or Inter-American Conventions will also be sent to Process Forwarding International for further handling. It should be noted, however, that use of the diplomatic channel is not obligatory, and countries not party to these service Conventions may prefer to send their requests and receive their certificate of service directly from Process Forwarding International. The Department of State encourages all countries to avoid the use of the diplomatic channel for routine matters and take advantage directly of the new procedures.
The Department of Justice wishes to note that there is no requirement under U.S. federal law that requests for judicial assistance be referred to the Department of State or the Department of Justice's contractor 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, through the mails or by private persons if that would be effective under applicable law.
We believe that service of documents pursuant to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory under these new procedures will result in greater efficiency. We anticipate that the goal of the Convention to improve mutual judicial assistance between Member States and to expedite service requests will be furthered by this operation.
We look forward to working with the OAS to implement these new procedures and thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.
Office of Foreign Litigation