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Can a Canadian process server deliver documents outside of Canada?

Region: Ontario Answer # 3017

Serving documents in another country can be very complicated. If you’re serving documents to someone who is not in Canada, there are special rules that may apply under the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (the “Convention”).

In most cases, the other party or parties named on the court file must receive notice of the court application. How they must receive this notice depends on the type of application being made. While in some cases it might be possible to have the other person served by mail, most often delivery of the documents must be made by personal service. This is common for most divorce cases, and other types of applications, such as urgent or emergency applications. As well, you may need a judge’s permission to serve the documents in another country.

If the other country where the documents are to be served is a party to the Hague Convention, that country normally allows personal service of documents on a person living in their country. While you do not need a judge’s permission to serve the other person in these countries, you must follow the rules set out in the Hague Convention for serving the documents for that country or your method of service may not be acceptable.

If the other country where the documents are to be served has not signed any special agreement with Canada for serving documents, you may need to get a judge’s permission to serve the documents and directions on the method of service. This is done by filing an application with the court.

There may also be requirements for

  • what you need to send,
  • how you make the request for service, and
  • requirements about the language that the documents have to be written in.

Get help

It is important to get advice and assistance if you have to serve documents on someone who does not live in Canada as the rules can be quite complicated. You may wish to seek help from a lawyer. As well, many process servers are able to serve documents in other countries and would be familiar with the applicable rules or laws, in order to ensure your documents are served correctly and legally.
In Ontario, view the Ministry of the Attorney General’s service options and informational material for help with understanding the rules in the Hague Convention.

To hire a process server to serve legal documents, file court documents, conduct legal searches, or for other services, contact our preferred experts:

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