I. Inbound Service Requests
OIJA serves as the Central Authority pursuant to the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, T.I.A.S. No. 6638, 20 U.S.T. 361 ("Hague Service Convention"), the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory, S. Treaty Doc. No. 27, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. (1984), and the Additional Protocol to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory, S. Treaty Doc. No.98-27,58 Fed. Reg. 31,132 (1988) ("Inter-American Convention"). OIJA also handles service requests in civil and commercial matters received from non-Convention States through diplomatic channels.
A. Service on Private Litigants and Companies
Service requests directed at private individuals or companies located in the United States are executed through a private contractor. Accordingly, these service requests and service-related inquiries should be sent directly to OIJA's contractor, ABC Legal (formerly known as PFI), at 633 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98104 USA. For service requests sent pursuant to the Hague Service Convention or letters rogatory through diplomatic channels, the documents need to be accompanied by a $95 USD processing fee, payable to ABC Legal. There is no fee for service requests pursuant to the Inter-American Convention or requests for the United States Government.
B. Service on the United States Government
Requests for service on the United States Government, which includes its departments, agencies, or instrumentalities, should be sent directly to OIJA. There is no fee for service requests designated for the United States Government. Requests for service on the United States Government should be mailed to OIJA at U.S. Central Authority, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 14360, Washington, DC 20004 USA. Please refer to the OIJA Guidance on Service on the U.S. Government below for detailed information (see link below).
II. Outbound Service Requests
Because the Hague Service Convention does not require outbound service requests to be sent by the Requesting State's Central Authority, OIJA plays no role with regard to service requests involving persons or parties located abroad in private litigation matters. United States litigants seeking to serve a judicial or extrajudicial documents in a foreign country bear the sole responsibility for making the necessary arrangements and, consequently, should research the rules and laws governing service in the foreign country in which service is to be made. Please refer to the OIJA Service Guidance for more information (see link below). Additional information can be found on the websites for the U.S. Department of State and the Hague Service Convention. Litigants should bear in mind that many civil law countries regard service as a judicial function and the failure to adhere to the laws of a foreign country may render a United States judgment unenforceable in that country.
Conversely, the Inter-American Convention requires that all service requests come from the Requesting State's Central Authority. For that reason, outbound service requests made pursuant to the Inter-American Convention must come from OIJA, by way of its contractor ABC Legal. ABC Legal charges no fee to send service requests pursuant to the Inter-American Convention. United States litigants, however, must complete and submit to ABC Legal all required forms and obtain the official seal of the United States domestic court. Instructions on requesting service pursuant to the Inter-American Convention can also be found in the OIJA Service Guidance (see link below).
Questions can be directed to OIJA at OIJA@usdoj.gov. Our mailing address can be found under Contact Us.
Hague Service Convention
Hague Service Convention Specialized Section
Hague Service Convention
Hague Service Convention Central Authorities
Hague Service Convention Mandatory Form
Additional Protocol to the Inter-American Convention
Inter-American Convention Mandatory Form
U.S. Department of State Guidance
U.S. Department of State: Service of Process
U.S. Department of State: Country Information
OIJA and ABC Legal
OIJA Service Guidance
OIJA Guidance on Service on the U.S. Government