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Waiver of Service: Pauper and Seaman Cases

Although the U.S. Marshal is required to serve a summons and complaint on behalf of paupers and seamen, waiver of service is not actual service of summons and complaint. Consequently, the U.S. Marshal may not be required to prepare and send the notice of lawsuit and request for waiver forms, along with the complaint, to the defendant. This may be done by the pauper and seaman plaintiff or the clerk of court. The waiver, however, is optional for a plaintiff; thus, the pauper or seaman plaintiff cannot be compelled to initiate the waiver process.

Manner of Service

The summons and complaint must be served together as a single piece of process. Service on individuals and corporations may be effected in any manner permitted under the law of the state where the district court is located or under the law of the state where the summons is to be served.

In most states, the only method of appropriate service is by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant personally, or to a person of suitable age and discretion residing at the defendant's usual place of abode, or to an agent authorized to receive process for the defendant. Some states provide for certified mail service as an alternative to personal service. Several other states provide for service by either personal, certified mail, or first-class mail service. A brief list of state law methods of service on individuals appears in Methods of Service by State. (See Methods of Service by State)

Note: The information related to the service of court process that is contained on this web site is general information and not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive explanation or depiction of Federal rules of procedures for the service of process. Readers are directed to the Federal Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure; personal legal counsel; the United States Code, Titles 18 and 28; their local U.S. Attorney's Office and District Court for specific, authoritative guidance.