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Become a California Process Server

Requirements to Become a Process Server in California

Please see California Business and Professions Code §22350 and §22353 for more information.

  • If an individual serves more than 10 papers a year they are required to be registered in the county they serve in.
  • Registration is statewide and applicants must be a resident of the State of California for one year immediately preceding filing.
  • There is no testing, or education required.
  • Every applicant is required to post a $2,000 bond or cash deposit.
  • Licensed private investigators are exempt from the registration requirement, but are likely not permitted to serve bank levies and similar documents without being registered per the statutory language requiring that a registered process server serve those documents.
Process Server Software

 

The following steps are required for the registration process in California:

1. COMPLETE A REGISTRATION FORM. Obtain from the County Clerk/Recorder’s Office a process server’s registration form. Complete, but do not sign the form until you are in the presence of the Clerk.

2. GET FINGERPRINTED. Fingerprints are required in order to become a registered process server. The purpose of the fingerprinting process is verification that an applicant has not been convicted of a felony. In the case that a registrant is convicted of a felony, the presiding superior court judge in the county of registration will review the criminal file. If there is not certificate of rehabilitation, expungement or pardon, the registration is revoked.

There are two forms of fingerprints. Check with the Clerk/Recorder in your County to verify which method is acceptable. In some counties, either is acceptable.

FD-285 Fingerprint Cards: Two fingerprint cards are required, as one will be submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the other will be submitted to the FBI. Typically, you will be fingerprinted at your local police or sheriff’s department. You may need an appointment, so call ahead. Be prepared to show valid photo ID. The fee for fingerprinting is nominal. However, please be advised that at the time you register and deliver your cards to the Clerk/Recorder’s Office, you will need to pay background service fees for the DOJ and FBI of $56.00. This differs from the Livescan process (below) where those fees are paid at the time of the fingerprinting.

Livescan: This second method of fingerprinting has become the more popular of the two methods. In some counties, Livescan may be the only acceptable method. Check with your Clerk/Recorder’s Office for details. You will need to complete a Request For Livescan form. As with the FD-285 cards, Livescans are typically completed by local law enforcement agencies. You may need an appointment, so call ahead. Be prepared to show valid photo ID

Once the fingerprints are taken, the print and background information provided in the Request form are electronically transmitted to the DOJ and FBI for the background check. You will not carry fingerprint cards to the Clerk/Recorder as with FD-285 cards. Alternatively, you will bring with you a copy of the completed Request For Livescan form that has been signed off by the law enforcement personnel who administered the Livescan. Please also note that the fee for a Livescan includes the law enforcement agency’s fingerprint fee, as well as $56.00 to the DOJ and FBI. The total is approximately $75.00.

3. OBTAIN A BOND. A $2,000 bond is required in order to register as a process server. You must contact an insurance or surety company in order to obtain a bond. The bond must be valid for the two-year term of the registration. The effective date of the bond and the date of the term of the registration must match, so plan ahead, particularly since fingerprinting appointments might be booked weeks in advance. You should expect to pay approximately $50.00 for a $2,000 bond. Do not confuse a surety bond with an errors and omissions policy. Consult your insurance company for a detailed explanation. You may contact any bonding or insurance company.

4. PHOTOGRAPHS. You will need to obtain two passport photos (1” x 1”).

5. FEES. The base fee to register as a process server is $134.00. Some counties may charge more. You will also be charged a recording fee for the Bond of approximately $3.00. If you opted for FD-285 Fingerprint cards, be prepared to pay the DOJ and FBI fees of $56.00 at this time.

Once you have completed steps 1 through 5, you are ready to appear before the county clerk to deliver the registration form; the FD-285 Fingerprint cards or Livescan form signed off by law enforcement. You will need to bring your Bond, the two passport photos, and appropriate fees. Be prepared to show valid photo ID. As mentioned above, each county in California may have specific rules, forms & fees. The foregoing is intended as a general summary for your assistance only.

You may also wish to purchase helpful guides and manuals to assist you in your daily operations. Please see the CAPPS sales order form for further explanations and details regarding these informative items.

NOTE: The requirements to become a process server change from time to time. You should contact your local county clerk or recorder to make sure the following information regarding becoming a process server in your state is still accurate.

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