International Service of Process - The Hague Convention

As a border city process serving firm located in Windsor, Ontario Canada and so close to Detroit, MI, we perform a lot of international services.  Although we have served documents from as far as England, the overwhelming amount of international services that we perform originate in the USA.  Many state courts require that international services proceed through the Hague Convention to be considered valid.  Even so, we see most services from the USA not proceeding through the Hague, and that can be a problem: if service is challenged, it can be invalidated on that basis. So, be safe; be certain; use the Hague Convention.  It is not difficult.

When people think of the Hague Convention, they often think that their documents will have to negotiate their way through complicated diplomatic channels, and maybe even get lost on a bureaucrat's desk!  And, that could happen, but there are other options.  There are two basic paths to follow under the Hague Convention.


Path One:  Article 5

Following this path is the one that people tend to fear.  It starts by contacting the Ministry of the Attorney General (Canada specifies that USA services can contact the Province directly, and not go through the Federal Government).  The Attorney General then checks the documents and if they are acceptable, forwards them to the county or city in question for service.  The sheriff or police officer will then serve the document, if possible, and return a proof of service directly to you.  It is a good process, and it does work...but it is slow.  It can literally take months.


Path Two: Article 10

Following this path is the simple and direct route: contact a competent process server in the destination area.  There are additional forms that need to be supplied, two of which will be served with the document.  There are four Hague Convention forms that need to be filled out and delivered in duplicate.  The first is a Request -- this acts as a memo instructing us to serve the defendant, and may, or may not, need to be filed with your court. There is a Notice that warns the defendant that these papers are legal documents and can impact their rights.  There is a Summary which summarizes the document, lists the defendant and defendant's address, and gives them a place to find legal aid.  Lastly, there is the Certificate of Service that we fill out once we have served the document.  The process is not complicated at all and certifies that the service has been done properly.  Additionally, it make the service easier: some destinations (like Ontario) allow sub-service of the defendant at the residence without a court order, and the Hague Convention allows that we can serve the document as would normally be allowed in the destination jurisdiction, even if those procedures would not be allowed in the originating jurisdiction.


If you'd like to read the full text of the Hague Convention, you can find it here.

If you'd like to download our Hague Convention forms, you can find them here.  You can also use our Client Portal if you are ready to send your documents to use for service: click here.