Actual notice is a notice that is given directly to a party or is personally received by a party informing them of a case that could affect their interests. In case of an actual notice, the notice is served in person as opposed to constructive notice where although that person did not receive notice in fact, the law will consider them to have received notice.
Note that constructive notice trumps actual notice. For example: Someone who is served improperly, but actually receives the papers may dismiss the case for lack of notice; while someone who is properly served (receives constructive notice), but because of a fluke does not in reality receive the papers will not be able to dismiss the case for lack of service.
[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]