Process Serving Costs: A Breakdown of the Standard Prices

Process Serving Costs: A Breakdown Of The Standard Prices

Small Business 30th October, 2023 7 Mins Read

Do you want to know the process serving costs? Well, you have come to the right place!

Process serving is an essential part of the country’s legal system. It involves delivering important court documents, such as summons and subpoenas, to individuals involved in a legal case. As you can imagine, this process requires time and resources, ultimately resulting in costs for you as the plaintiff.

So, how much is the cost of process service? In this article, we will break it down for you so that you can have a better understanding of the fees involved and make informed decisions. Let us get right into it!

What Is the Average Process Service Expense in the US?

Average Process Service Expense in the US

The service of process pricing typically varies from one server to another. However, according to a National Association of Professional Process Servers report, the average price runs from $20 to $100 per job.

Also, it can vary from state to state. In California, for example, the process serving costs can range from $40 to $200. This is higher than the national average, mainly due to the state’s high cost of living. Other states may have an affordable process serving costs, but it is important to keep in mind that the quality of service may also vary.

What Is Included in the Process Server Fees?

Now that you know the average process serving costs, let us break down the elements that make up these fees.

Standard Service

The standard service includes three attempts to serve the legal documents to the recipient at their place of residence or work. This type of service usually takes 7-14 days, depending on the location and availability of the recipient.

When a process server quotes their services, they usually start with this standard service fee. However, keep in mind that additional fees may be added depending on the complexity of the case.

Court Filing

Serving legal papers involves more than just delivering them to the recipient. It also requires you to file the necessary forms to get approval from the court for service of process. This is where court filing fees come in.

Depending on the process server you choose, you are the one to cover these fees, or they will include them in the overall cost. So, during your first meeting, make sure to discuss and clarify this matter with your process server to avoid any surprises.

Notary Services

Apart from filing court documents, the process service expense will also include notary services. This is to ensure that the documents being served are officially verified and signed by a certified notary public. The cost of notary services may vary depending on your location, but you can expect to pay an average of $5-$10 per document.

This small fee is well worth it as it adds legitimacy to the legal documents being served and ensures that they will hold up in court. It also provides an extra layer of protection for both parties involved in the case.


To confirm that court documents are served successfully, process servers need to file an affidavit of service, also commonly known as proof of service. This is a written statement, sworn under oath by the process server, stating that they have successfully served the necessary court documents. This document serves as proof to the court that due diligence was performed in attempting to serve the recipient.

The cost of affidavits may vary depending on the process server, but it is typically included in the overall cost of service. These documents play a crucial role in legal proceedings and are necessary for a case to move forward.


In situations where all the traditional methods of service (e.g., personal delivery, certified mail) have been exhausted, and the recipient still cannot be reached, the process server may need to resort to service by posting or publication. This method involves posting the legal documents in a prominent place, such as a bulletin board or newspaper, for a specified period of time.

In such cases, the process server will need to cover any expenses related to postage or publication fees, which are usually included in the overall fee quoted. These fees can vary depending on the location and duration of the posting/publication.

Administrative Services

Administrative services are an important aspect of process serving that is often overlooked when considering the costs involved. These include tasks, such as preparing and printing legal documents, making copies, and even mailing or delivering the documents to the court or other parties involved in the case.

While these may seem like minor expenses, they can add up quickly, especially for cases with multiple recipients or parties. That is why it is important to discuss these administrative services with your process server and understand how they are included in the overall cost of service. This will help you avoid any surprises when receiving the final bill for process serving. 

Other Services That Might Be Needed

Serving court papers might require some additional services, especially for individuals who are hard to find or are intentionally avoiding being served. These special services may include skip tracing, surveillance, or stakeouts.

Keep in mind that these services are not usually included in the standard service fee and are generally expensive. You will need to discuss them with your process server beforehand to get a clear understanding of the costs involved.

3 Main Factors That Affect the Process Serving Costs

3 Main Factors That Affect the Process Serving Costs

The process serving costs can also vary greatly depending on various factors. These include the location of the defendant to be served, the complexity of the case, and urgency. Let us take a closer look at each of them to understand how they can affect the overall price you pay.

1. Location of the Defendant

Of course, the distance a process server has to travel will significantly affect the legal document delivery costs. If the recipient resides in a different state or even another county, it will require more time, resources, and effort to serve them. This can result in higher fees for process serving.

2. The Complexity of the Case

When it comes to process serving, no two cases are the same. Each case has its unique challenges and complexities that can affect the overall cost of service.

For example, if the recipient is intentionally avoiding being served or is difficult to locate, this can require additional resources and time from the process server, ultimately increasing the costs involved. Similarly, if there are multiple parties involved in the case, it can also add to the complexity and cost of process serving.

3. Urgency

In some cases, there may be a tight deadline for serving legal papers. This urgency can also affect the cost of process serving. The more urgent the case, the higher the fees may be as it requires expedited services and more resources to ensure timely delivery.

If there are specific time constraints or requirements set by the court for the service of process, it may require additional efforts, resulting in higher process server fees.

Do Process Servers Require a Pre-Payment for Their Services?

Do Process Servers Require a Pre-Payment for Their Services?

Process servers typically require a pre-payment for their services. This is because process serving involves upfront costs, such as preparing and printing legal documents, travel expenses, and administrative tasks. In order to cover these expenses, process servers usually request a deposit or full payment before initiating the service of process.

However, the exact amount of pre-payment may vary depending on the process server and the case at hand. Some process servers may require a flat fee upfront, while others may ask for a percentage of the overall cost. It is important to discuss this with your chosen process server beforehand and clearly understand their payment policies.

Moreover, some process servers also offer different payment options, such as installment plans or credit card payments, to make it easier for clients to afford their services. Remember to clarify the payment terms and conditions with your process server to avoid any misunderstandings later on.

What If the Process Server Fails to Deliver Documents Correctly?

In the rare case that the process server is unable to successfully serve the legal documents, you may wonder if you will still have to pay for their services.

The answer is “yes”, as long as the process server made a reasonable attempt to serve the recipient and incurred expenses in the process. This can include time spent and resources used in locating the recipient or attempting alternative methods of service.

However, if the process server fails to serve the recipient due to their own negligence or lack of effort, you may be able to negotiate a refund or dispute the charges. Make sure to document any failures or issues with the delivery of documents and discuss them with your process server afterward.

How Long Does It Take to Serve Court Papers?

How Long Does It Take to Serve Court Papers?

The time it takes to serve court papers can vary depending on various factors, including the location of the defendant and the complexity of the case. It is important to understand that there is no set timeframe for process serving as each case is unique and may require different approaches.

However, in general, most process servers aim to complete the service within 7-10 days. This allows them enough time to make multiple attempts and try different methods if needed.


Process serving costs can add up to the overall expenses of legal proceedings. However, it is a small price to pay to ensure that the recipient is properly notified of the legal action and that your case will proceed smoothly. By understanding the various factors that can affect the costs involved and clarifying payment terms with your process server, you can make informed decisions and avoid any surprises when it is time to receive the final bill.

Remember, communication is key, so make sure to discuss any concerns or questions about process serving costs with your chosen process server beforehand. This will help ensure a smooth and successful service process, allowing you to focus on the legal matter at hand.

For more legal tips, news, and information, please check out our other articles!

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Shahnawaz is a passionate and professional Content writer. He loves to read, write, draw and share his knowledge in different niches like Technology, Cryptocurrency, Travel,Social Media, Social Media Marketing, and Healthcare.

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