(As amended Mar. 30, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 30, 1991, eff. Aug. 1, 1991; Pub. L. 103–394, title I, § 114, Oct. 22, 1994, 108 Stat. 4118; Apr. 23, 1996, eff. Dec. 1, 1996; Apr. 26, 1999, eff. Dec. 1, 1999; Apr. 25, 2005, eff. Dec. 1, 2005; Apr. 12, 2006, eff. Dec. 1, 2006; Mar. 26, 2009, eff. Dec. 1, 2009.)
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1983
Subdivision (a) of the rule, by incorporation of Rule
(a), (b), (d), (e) and (g)–(i) F.R.Civ.P., governs the mechanics of issuance of a summons and its form, the manner of service on parties and their representatives, and service in foreign countries.
Subdivision (b), which is the same as former Rule
(c), authorizes service of process by first class mail postage prepaid. This rule retains the modes of service contained in former Bankruptcy Rule
704. The former practice, in effect since 1976, has proven satisfactory.
Subdivision (c) is derived from former Bankruptcy Rule
Subdivision (d). Nationwide service of process is authorized by subdivision (d).
Subdivision (e) authorizes service by delivery on individuals and corporations in foreign countries if the party to be served is the debtor or any person required to perform the duties of the debtor and certain other persons, the adversary proceeding involves property in the custody of the bankruptcy court, or if federal or state law authorizes such service in a foreign country.
Subdivision (f). The requirement of former Bankruptcy Rule
704 that the summons be served within 10 days is carried over into these rules by subdivision (f).
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment
Subdivision (a) is amended to make Rule
(j) F.R.Civ.P. applicable to service of the summons. If service is not completed within 120 days of the filing of the complaint, the complaint may be dismissed.
Technical amendments are made to subdivisions (a), (b), (e), and (f) to conform to recent amendments to Rule
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1991 Amendment
The United States trustee may serve as trustee in a case pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 586
and §§ 701(a)(2), 1202(a), and 1302(a) of the Code. This rule is amended to avoid the necessity of mailing copies of a summons and complaint or other pleadings to the Attorney General and to the United States attorney when service on the United States trustee is required only because the United States trustee is acting as a case trustee. For example, a proceeding commenced by a creditor to dismiss a case for unreasonable delay under § 707(a) is governed by Rule
which requires service on the trustee pursuant to the requirements of Rule
for the service of a summons and complaint. The Attorney General and the United States attorney would have no interest in receiving a copy of the motion to dismiss. Mailing to the office of the United States trustee when acting as the case trustee is sufficient in such cases.
The words “with the court” in subdivision (b)(9) are deleted as unnecessary. See Rules
The new paragraph (10) of subdivision (b) does not affect requirements for service of process on the United States trustee when sued or otherwise a party to a litigation unrelated to its capacity as a trustee. If a proceeding is commenced against the United States trustee which is unrelated to the United States trustee’s role as trustee, the requirements of paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of this rule would apply.
Subdivision (g) is added in anticipation of substantial amendment to, and restructuring of subdivisions of, Rule
4 F.R.Civ.P. Any amendment to Rule
4 will not affect service in bankruptcy cases and proceedings until further amendment to the Bankruptcy Rules. On January 1, 1990, Rule
4 F.R.Civ.P. read as follows:
Rule 4 F.R.Civ.P.
(a) Summons: Issuance. Upon the filing of the complaint the clerk shall forthwith issue a summons and deliver the summons to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney, who shall be responsible for prompt service of the summons and a copy of the complaint. Upon request of the plaintiff separate or additional summons shall issue against any defendants.
(b) Same: Form. The summons shall be signed by the clerk, be under the seal of the court, contain the name of the court and the names of the parties, be directed to the defendant, state the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney, if any, otherwise the plaintiff’s address, and the time within which these rules require the defendant to appear and defend, and shall notify the defendant that in case of the defendant’s failure to do so judgment by default will be rendered against the defendant for the relief demanded in the complaint. When, under Rule
(e), service is made pursuant to a statute or rule of court of a state, the summons, or notice, or order in lieu of summons shall correspond as nearly as may be to that required by the statute or rule.
(1) [Not applicable.]
(2)(A) [Not applicable.]
(B) [Not applicable.]
(C) A summons and complaint may be served upon a defendant of any class referred to in paragraph (1) or (3) of subdivision (d) of this rule—
(i) pursuant to the law of the State in which the district court is held for the service of summons or other like process upon such defendant in an action brought in the courts of general jurisdiction of that State, or
(ii) [Not applicable.]
(D) [Not applicable.]
(E) [Not applicable.]
(3) [Not applicable.]
(d) Summons and Complaint: Person To Be Served. The summons and complaint shall be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with such copies as are necessary. Service shall be made as follows:
(1) Upon an individual other than an infant or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally or by leaving copies thereof at the individual’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein or by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.
(2) Upon an infant or an incompetent person, by serving the summons and complaint in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the service is made for the service of summons or other like process upon any such defendant in an action brought in the courts of general jurisdiction of that state.
(3) Upon a domestic or foreign corporation or upon a partnership or other unincorporated association which is subject to suit under a common name, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, a managing or general agent, or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process and, if the agent is one authorized by statute to receive service and the statute so requires, by also mailing a copy to the defendant.
(4) Upon the United States, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the United States attorney for the district in which the action is brought or to an assistant United States attorney or clerical employee designated by the United States attorney in a writing filed with the clerk of the court and by sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint by registered or certified mail to the Attorney General of the United States at Washington, District of Columbia, and in any action attacking the validity of an order of an officer or agency of the United States not made a party, by also sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint by registered or certified mail to such officer or agency.
(5) Upon an officer or agency of the United States, by serving the United States and by sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint by registered or certified mail to such officer or agency. If the agency is a corporation the copy shall be delivered as provided in paragraph (3) of this subdivision of this rule.
(6) Upon a state or municipal corporation or other governmental organization thereof subject to suit, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the chief executive officer thereof or by serving the summons and complaint in the manner prescribed by the law of that state for the service of summons or other like process upon any such defendant.
(e) Summons: Service Upon Party Not Inhabitant of or Found Within State. Whenever a statute of the United States or an order of court thereunder provides for service of a summons, or of a notice, or of an order in lieu of summons upon a party not an inhabitant of or found within the state in which the district court is held, service may be made under the circumstances and in the manner prescribed by the statute or order, or, if there is no provision therein prescribing the manner of service, in a manner stated in this rule. Whenever a statute or rule of court of the state in which the district court is held provides (1) for service of a summons, or of a notice, or of an order in lieu of summons upon a party not an inhabitant of or found within the state, or (2) for service upon or notice to such a party to appear and respond or defend in an action by reason of the attachment or garnishment or similar seizure of the party’s property located within the state, service may in either case be made under the circumstances and in the manner prescribed in the statute or rule.
(f) [Not applicable.]
(g) Return. The person serving the process shall make proof of service thereof to the court promptly and in any event within the time during which the person served must respond to the process. If service is made by a person other than a United States marshal or deputy United States marshal, such person shall make affidavit thereof. If service is made under subdivision (c)(2)(C)(ii) of this rule, return shall be made by the sender’s filing with the court the acknowledgment received pursuant to such subdivision. Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of the service.
(h) Amendment. At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.
(i) Alternative Provisions for Service in a Foreign Country.
(1) Manner. When the federal or state law referred to in subdivision (e) of this rule authorizes service upon a party not an inhabitant of or found within the state in which the district court is held, and service is to be effected upon the party in a foreign country, it is also sufficient if service of the summons and complaint is made: (A) in the manner prescribed by the law of the foreign country for service in that country in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction; or (B) as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory, when service in either case is reasonably calculated to give actual notice; or (C) upon an individual, by delivery to the individual personally, and upon a corporation or partnership or association, by delivery to an officer, a managing or general agent; or (D) by any form of mail, requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the party to be served; or (E) as directed by order of the court. Service under (C) or (E) above may be made by any person who is not a party and is not less than 18 years of age or who is designated by order of the district court or by the foreign court. On request, the clerk shall deliver the summons to the plaintiff for transmission to the person or the foreign court or officer who will make the service.
(2) Return. Proof of service may be made as prescribed by subdivision (g) of this rule, or by the law of the foreign country, or by order of the court. When service is made pursuant to subparagraph (1)(D) of this subdivision, proof of service shall include a receipt signed by the addressee or other evidence of delivery to the addressee satisfactory to the court.
(j) Summons: Time Limit for Service. If a service of the summons and complaint is not made upon a defendant within 120 days after the filing of the complaint and the party on whose behalf such service was required cannot show good cause why such service was not made within that period, the action shall be dismissed as to that defendant without prejudice upon the court’s own initiative with notice to such party or upon motion. This subdivision shall not apply to service in a foreign country pursuant to subdivision (i) of this rule.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1996 Amendment
The purpose of these amendments is to conform the rule to the 1993 revisions of Rule
4 F.R.Civ.P. and to make stylistic improvements. Rule
, as amended, continues to provide for service by first class mail as an alternative to the methods of personal service provided in Rule
4 F.R.Civ.P., except as provided in the new subdivision (h).
(d)(2) F.R.Civ.P. provides a procedure by which the plaintiff may request by first class mail that the defendant waive service of the summons. This procedure is not applicable in adversary proceedings because it is not necessary in view of the availability of service by mail pursuant to Rule
. However, if a written waiver of service of a summons is made in an adversary proceeding, Rule
(d)(1) F.R.Civ.P. applies so that the defendant does not thereby waive any objection to the venue or the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant.
Subdivisions (b)(4) and (b)(5) are amended to conform to the 1993 amendments to Rule
(i)(3) F.R.Civ.P., which protect the plaintiff from the hazard of losing a substantive right because of failure to comply with the requirements of multiple service when the United States or an officer, agency, or corporation of the United States is a defendant. These subdivisions also are amended to require that the summons and complaint be addressed to the civil process clerk at the office of the United States attorney.
Subdivision (e), which has governed service in a foreign country, is abrogated and Rule
(f) and (h)(2) F.R.Civ.P., as substantially revised in 1993, are made applicable in adversary proceedings.
The new subdivision (f) is consistent with the 1993 amendments to F.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(2). It clarifies that service or filing a waiver of service in accordance with this rule or the applicable subdivisions of F.R.Civ.P. 4 is sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the defendant. See the committee note to the 1993 amendments to Rule
Subdivision (g) is abrogated. This subdivision was promulgated in 1991 so that anticipated revisions to Rule
4 F.R.Civ.P. would not affect service of process in adversary proceedings until further amendment to Rule
Subdivision (h) and the first phrase of subdivision (b) were added by § 114 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994, Pub. L. No. 103–394, 108 Stat. 4106
GAP Report on Rule
. After publication of the proposed amendments, Rule
was amended and Rule
was added by the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 to provide for service by certified mail on an insured depository institution. The above draft includes those statutory amendments (without underlining new language or striking former language). No other changes have been made since publication, except for stylistic changes.
Committee Notes on Rules—1999 Amendment
Subdivision (e) is amended so that the ten-day time limit for service of a summons does not apply if the summons is served in a foreign country.
GAP Report on Rule
. No changes since publication.
Committee Notes on Rules—2005 Amendment
This amendment specifically authorizes the clerk to issue a summons electronically. In some bankruptcy cases the trustee or debtor in possession may commence hundreds of adversary proceedings simultaneously, and permitting the electronic signing and sealing of the summonses for those proceedings increases the efficiency of the clerk’s office without any negative impact on any party. The rule only authorizes electronic issuance of the summons. It does not address the service requirements for the summons. Those requirements are set out elsewhere in Rule
, and nothing in Rule
should be construed as authorizing electronic service of a summons.
Changes Made After Publication and Comment. No changes were made after publication.
Committee Notes on Rules—2006 Amendment
Under current Rule
, an entity may serve a summons and complaint upon the debtor by personal service or by mail. If the entity chooses to serve the debtor by mail, it must also serve a copy of the summons and complaint on the debtor’s attorney by mail. If the entity effects personal service on the debtor, there is no requirement that the debtor’s attorney also be served.
Subdivision (b)(9). The rule is amended to delete the reference in subdivision (b)(9) to the debtor’s address as set forth in the statement of financial affairs. In 1991, the Official Form of the statement of financial affairs was revised and no longer includes a question regarding the debtor’s current residence. Since that time, Official Form
1, the petition, has required the debtor to list both the debtor’s residence and mailing address. Therefore, the subdivision is amended to delete the statement of financial affairs as a document that might contain an address at which the debtor can be served.
Subdivision (g). The rule is amended to require service on the debtor’s attorney whenever the debtor is served with a summons and complaint. The amendment makes this change by deleting that portion of Rule
that requires service on the debtor’s attorney when the debtor is served by mail, and relocates the obligation to serve the debtor’s attorney into new subdivision (g). Service on the debtor’s attorney is not limited to mail service, but may be accomplished by any means permitted under Rule
Changes Made After Publication. The Committee Note was amended to add the final [second] paragraph of the Note. The new paragraph describes the reason for the deletion of the reference in the rule to the statement of affairs as a source for the debtor’s address. This was a secondary reason for amending the rule, and even in the absence of public comment on the proposed amendment, the Advisory Committee believes that the additional explanation in the Committee Note is appropriate.
Committee Notes on Rules—2009 Amendment
The rule is amended to implement changes in connection with the amendment to Rule
and the manner by which time is computed under the rules. The deadlines in the rule are amended to substitute a deadline that is a multiple of seven days. Throughout the rules, deadlines are amended in the following manner:
5-day periods become 7-day periods
10-day periods become 14-day periods
15-day periods become 14-day periods
20-day periods become 21-day periods
25-day periods become 28-day periods
References in Text
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, referred to in text, are set out in the Appendix to Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
Section 3 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, referred to in subd. (h), is classified to section
, Banks and Banking.
Amendment by Public Law
1994—Subd. (b). Pub. L. 103–394
, § 114(1), substituted “Except as provided in subdivision (h), in addition” for “In addition”.
Subd. (h). Pub. L. 103–394
, § 114(2), added subd. (h).
Effective Date of 1994 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 103–394
effective Oct. 22, 1994, and not applicable with respect to cases commenced under this title before Oct. 22, 1994, see section 702 of Pub. L. 103–394
, set out as a note under section
101 of this title.