Learn about completing service of process when the defendant doesn't live or work in Massachusetts

Learn about your options for successfully delivering papers to a person not living or working in Massachusetts.

If a statute or law, such as the long-arm statute for example, authorizes service of process on a defendant who does not live or work in Massachusetts, then you have a few different options available for successfully delivering the papers.  

Service in the state where the defendant lives

  • You may find someone who is authorized to serve a copy of the summons and complaint in the state where the defendant lives or works (the Clerk’s Office at a court in that state may be able to help you find someone to serve the papers there), using the same successful service methods described in the method section for completing service of process for an in-state person, company, etc.; OR
  • You may find someone who is authorized to serve a copy of the summons and complaint in the state where the defendant lives or works (the Clerk’s Office at a court in that state may be able to help you find someone to serve the papers there), using the successful service method(s) set out by that state’s court of general jurisdiction; OR
  • You may mail the copies to the defendant at his/her address so long as a signed receipt is required; OR
  • As directed by the appropriate foreign authority in response to a letters rogatory (a formal written request from this country by the court where the case is filed to a foreign country acting through one its courts); OR
  • As directed by an order of the court where the case is filed.  

After successful delivery

When delivery is successful to a defendant outside this state:

  • The proof of service to be filed with the court where the case is filed may be an Affidavit of the person who delivered the papers to the defendant; or
  • the same proof of service as described above for successful service in this state; or
  • the proof of service set out by a court of general jurisdiction for successful service in that state. 
  • If service is made by mail, then proof of service must include a signed receipt or other evidence of successful personal delivery to the defendant that will satisfy the court where the case is filed.  

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