The [[wex:due_process|Due Process]] clauses in the United States Constitution prohibit courts from exercising [[wex:in personam|personal jurisdiction]] over a [[wex:defendant]] unless the [[wex:defendant]] has proper [[wex:notice]] of the court's proceedings. To meet this rule, courts require [[wex:plaintiff|plaintiffs]] to arrange for [[wex:defendant|defendants]] to be served with a court summons and a copy of the [[wex:plaintiff|plaintiffs']] [[wex:complaint]]. These papers are collectively called process.
Typically, it is not enough to simply mail process to the [[wex:defendant]]. The summons and [[wex:complaint]] must be either given directly to [[wex:defendant|defendants]] or left with a suitable person at their home or place of business. Service may usually be performed by any adult who is not a party to the lawsuit. [[wex:plaintiff|Plaintiffs]] may hire professional [[wex:process_server|process servers]] to serve [[wex:defendant|defendants]].
There are exceptions to these general rules. For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow [[wex:defendant|defendants]] to waive in-hand service of process. [[wex:defendant|Defendants]] who do so get more time to compose their [[wex:answer]]. Those who refuse must compensate the [[wex:plaintiff]] for the costs of arranging for in-hand service. See Rule 4(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Rules governing service of process vary by jurisdiction. See State Civil Procedure Rules.
See [[wex:civil_procedure|Civil Procedure]]