A Complete Guide To International Service in Germany

Process Serving in Germany

Serving a defendant outside the US is always more difficult than serving someone in the US. When serving a defendant in Germany, there are very strict rules that must be followed for the service to take place.

Germany is a part of and subject to the rules of the Hague Convention. One mistake can see your service dismissed.

There is a straightforward procedure for service of process in Germany. Deviate from it, and you’ll be denied service.

The Hague Convention

Like most foreign countries, you can’t just serve a summons like you would in the US. Because it’s part of The Hague Convention, you’ll need to file a Hague Service Request (USM94).

Germany’s Article 5(3) requires that the documents all be translated into German, even if the defendant speaks English, as well as a summary of the documents that can be served along with them. All these documents must be translated into the country’s home language for the benefit of the Central Authority. Without a legal translation, the German Central Authority will reject your request immediately.

An attorney or a court official must sign this form, or someone who is commissioned by the court. Non-lawyers are not permitted to sign these forms. If not, your service request will be invalid.

Then send it to the appropriate Central Authority in Germany. Germany has multiple Central Authority offices. In fact, there are 16 different offices.

As with any foreign process, it will take a while to receive notification that service has been completed. From Germany, expect a wait of three to five months before you receive any notification.

There are no alternatives to an Article 5 service—Germany rejects everything else. Mail service and process server service are not considered acceptable.


If you don’t adhere to the rules set out in The Hague Convention for service, there is a strong possibility that your service will be ruled invalid. Furthermore, a request that is invalid can also be set aside by the German Central Authority.

Generally, there are two reasons why Germany would reject the paperwork:

  • The paperwork was improperly done or was not translated
  • The request itself violates the security or national sovereignty of the state of destination.

The request itself must conform to U.S. law when it originates, no matter how the foreign country’s court system treats it. Hague Certificates are generally considered to be conclusive and watertight, so a court may take it at face value.

Punitive Damages And Split-Recovery Statutes

While Germany generally does serve on cases with punitive damages, there are some cases that are rejected outright: if the home court is in a state with a split-recovery statute.

If the plaintiff is suing for punitive damages and lives in one of eight states that has a so-called “split recovery statute,” there is a high chance that Germany’s Central Authority will reject the service. They are:

  • Alaska
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Oregon
  • Utah (who has since found split-recovery unconstitutional)

Split-recovery means that when a plaintiff is awarded punitive damages, the state takes a portion of those damages. That portion is generally 50% to 75% of the award, with the funds going either into the state treasury or designated for specific recipients. Most of these awards are put into state-controlled funds for services like indigent representation and victim compensation funds.

So why do some German states reject a case like this? Because The Hague Convention is strictly for civil or commercial matters. An administrative or criminal case falls outside of the Hague Convention, and involves fines, which is what the state collection represents.

Because the punitive damages will benefit the state as much or more than the plaintiff, it’s more of paying a fine, which takes it outside of the scope of civil or commercial matters. Therefore, it’s also outside of the realm of The Hague Convention, and Germany does not have that jurisdiction to get involved. The plaintiff may be required to waive punitive damages in order to get service in Germany.

Legal Translation for German Service Of Process

As we mentioned, the documents must be translated into German—the country’s native language. Not just any kind of translation, but legal translation, which involves someone who understands the types of documents that are being sent.

A legal translation means that someone takes them from the current language into a different language. Medical records, specifications for mechanical or electrical projects, legal documents, and other types of documents require someone with that technical expertise to understand what they’re reading, and translate them correctly.

By Legal Pros. For Legal Pros

Do you or your firm need to serve someone in Germany, in another city, or right in your city? Judicial Process & Support is ready to help no matter where you need service of process. Based in Miami, we work with clients worldwide to ensure that your service of process is completed in accordance with the state or country’s requirements.

Service of process is important, especially with overseas parties, so don’t take chances. Make sure that your service is completed the right way, no matter where the other party resides. You can call us today at 1-800-852-5002, or email us at Global@JudicialSupport.com. We’re happy to answer all your questions.

A Complete Guide To International Service in Canada

Process Serving In Canada

Although the US has a close relationship with our neighbor to the north, process service to Canada is still “international.” As with any foreign country, you must follow specific rules in order to effect service properly.

Canada is a part of The Hague Convention. Each jurisdiction has its own rules for service, so everything depends on the individual jurisdiction. The Hague Convention allows us to request a foreign nation to serve an individual or business located in their country.

The Hague Convention also works in reverse: a Canadian person or company can serve a defendant that is located in the US.

How It Works

Comply with the Hague protocols. Ensure all documentation is prepared and gathered correctly. Some Hague forms will need to be signed by a lawyer, a court official, or someone who is commissioned by the court. Non-lawyers cannot sign the Hague forms.

When completed, you’ll need to send it to the appropriate Central Authority (Canada Has 13 C.A’s) in the province or territory where your defendant is located. Depending on the location, the documents may be required to be translated into French Canadian.

Service In Québec
Even though it’s part of Canada, if your defendant is to be served here, it’s still different, since it’s not a common-law province.

  • Canada’s declaration to Article 5(3) states that all documents must be translated into French, the official language of Québec, even if the recipient’s first language is English. This includes the summons and the complaint.

Why the difference? Québec was a French outpost until the British took over in the 1760’s. Its laws are based on civil law, not common, and French is still the predominant language. When submitting documentation to the Québec central authority, everything must be translated into French Canadian, or it will be refused and returned. Translation to French Canadian is required even if the defendant speaks and understands English perfectly.

Alternative Service (Get Service Done In A Week?!)

Yes, that’s right! we can assist in getting your documents served extremely fast.

There are a few forms of service allowed under The Hague Service Convention, Article 5 and Article 10, both of which are permitted throughout Canada. Article 5, is the formal method explained above but Article 10, allows us to use a certified agent to serve your documents directly! We have over 600+ certified agents worldwide, that can deliver documents directly to your defendants, so please give us a call, and we can provide you a quote.


  • Typically, Cheaper Than Formal Method
  • Much Faster Turnaround Time (1-2 Weeks, Compared to 1-3 Months for Formal Method)
  • No Translation Required (If Defendant Speaks English & Is Located In Québec you Don’t Have To Translate)


  • If you are seeking a monetary judgment then, we typically don’t recommend going through this route. This is the informal method which why it’s only recommended to clients who don’t expect the opposing counsel or Judge to question the validity of the service.

Certified Legal Translation

Even if you’re serving someone in the English-speaking part of Canada, you must still make sure that the documentation is in a language they understand. That means if your Canadian defendant is, say, Japanese, you may be required to serve papers translated into Japanese as well as English.

But because French is the official language of Québec, all documents must be translated accordingly, no matter the primary language of the recipient.

A legal translation is more than just taking documents written into English and turning them into French (or other language as required.) It’s the process of translating a type of documents, whether legal, medical, engineering, or other type of specialty documents into a second language and ensuring that it’s correct. Our certified legal translators are experts that handle specific types of documents and can translate them accordingly.

By Legal Pros. For Legal Pros

Do you or your firm need to serve someone in Canada, in another city, or right in your city? Judicial Process and Support is ready to help no matter where you need service of process. Based in Miami, we work with clients worldwide to ensure that your process service is completed in accordance with the state or country’s requirements.

International Service of process is important in any case, so don’t risk a refusal and return. Make sure that your service is correctly carried out, no matter where the other party resides. You can call us today at 1-800-852-5002, or email us at Global@JudicialSupport.com. We’re happy to answer all your questions and get you the services you need quickly.

International Service 101: Everything You Need To Know To Get Your Documents Served Anywhere In The World!

International Process Serving 101

Getting legal service on someone in the United States—whether a company or an individual—is a pretty straightforward process. But when the other party is outside of the US, it’s an entirely different matter, and depending on the country, the process can take as long as a year or more.

Since the company or individual overseas may not fall under US jurisdiction, you and your legal counsel will have to follow certain rules. This makes service more complicated, but it is not impossible.

Different countries subscribe to different service methods, and it’s important to know which one you’ll need to follow. It starts with what country the party lives in.

The Three Methods

There are three ways to serve a company or individual in a foreign country, depending on where they are.

1. The Hague ConventionThe Hague Service Convention is a multilateral treaty that simplifies the international service process so that defendants are notified of suits and other legal actions against them and facilitate proof of service in another country. Begun in 1965 and effective as of 1968, it establishes an effective system for parties to render service in a large number of member countries. Under the Hague Convention, the application which is necessary is the USM 94. Normally, the USM 94 is executed by the attorney of record, however, in some instances, some countries require the USM 94 to be executed by the Clerk of the Court or the Judge assigned to the pending matter in the United States.

Civil and commercial matters are handled, but not criminal. A request is sent to the country’s Central Authority, the designated bureau that is set up to receive and handle these requests. 

You can find a complete list of countries served by the Hague Convention here.

2. The Inter-American Convention — similar to the Hague Convention, this one is signed by the US as well as a dozen countries in Latin America:

        • Argentina
        • Brazil
        • Chile
        • Colombia
        • Ecuador
        • Guatemala
        • Mexico
        • Panama
        • Paraguay
        • Peru
        • Uruguay
        • Venezuela

When serving legal documents through the Inter-American Convention the Requests from the US are executed by a US judge and the Central Authority in the US. Once received by the foreign court, the judge will review and approve the request before service is rendered.  The major difference in serving through the Inter-American Convention is that the USM 272 is signed by the Central Authority in the United States and sent directly to the Court in a foreign country bypassing the Central Authority. Also, in the USM 272, the attorney of record in the United States can assign local counsel in the foreign country “to act in connection with the Letter Rogatory”.  The information of the local council is placed at the bottom of page 1 to the USM 272. We like to refer to this as “boots on the ground”. 

This process generally takes four to six months, depending on the country. Like the Hague Convention, documents must also be translated into the country’s official language.  

3. Letters of Rogatory — In the absence of one of the conventions, the US Department of State can help. If the other party is not a member of the Hague or Inter-American Convention —  a Letter of Rogatory can be issued to accomplish service. This is a request from a US judge to a foreign authority in another country requesting service or other acts. Without the foreign court’s permission, the act would violate the country’s sovereignty.

These letters are usually sent through diplomatic channels, which can be time-consuming and take a year or more. A major difference with serving Letters of Rogatory is that all the documents being served must be certified by the Clerk of Court and then an Apostille would be necessary to authenticate the documents. A Certificate from the United States Department of Justice and an Apostille from the US Department of State are necessary in Federal matter. 

Note that if your case involves monetary damages, these are your only options for service. Using a private process server and bypassing the Central Authority of the foreign Court means that any judgment you receive will not be enforceable.

Will You Need Translation?

In countries where English is not the official language, a legal translation is generally required, even if the party speaks English. The Central Authority will review your case documents in the country’s native language, so it has to be translated from English in order to be reviewed.

The more difficult or complex the documents are, the more time will be needed for the translation. However, we translate over 100 languages and can offer you a quote to ensure your documents are accurately translated.

Caveat — The Correct Address

It seems like a simple thing, but if you do not have the correct address and the exact name of the company or individual you are serving, there’s a good chance your service will not happen.

You may be able to Google an address, but it’s also best to confirm the address with the company or individual directly. The full address must be listed on the summons. If there is any problem with the address, delivery will be denied.  

Private Process Servers

Question: Is it possible to bypass the governmental agencies and just find someone to perform service?
Answer: Yes, but as a rule, we do not recommend it.

Private process servers are available in many countries, at a cost of five to ten times what the standard formal process costs. However, some countries, like China, will not allow any form of informal process service—you have no other choice but to go through the Central Authority.  

In most cases, you will need permission from a US judge to attempt a private process server. Once granted, you can proceed.

More than 90% of service cases use the standard formal process. Private process service is an informal service, your party may be served faster, but the higher expense and the possibility of an invalid service mean that it may be better for the client to be extremely patient and use the country’s standard process for service. If you truly wish to use a private process server, contact us and we can advise you on which countries allow service through a private process server.

International Service When You Need It

Process serving in another country can be daunting, but it does not have to be difficult. Let us help facilitate service wherever the defendant is located.

Since 2000, Judicial Support has offered efficient domestic and international process service to law firms of all sizes, as well as non-law firm clients. We work with clients nationwide for process service anywhere in the world.  We can make sure your process service is done correctly, in accordance with the state or country’s requirements.