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Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure

Does a process server have to be licensed in Illinois? No. Visit ServeNow.com’s Become a Process Server page for more information.

Illinois Process Server Licensing Requirements. Process shall be served by a sheriff, or if the sheriff is disqualified, by a coroner of some county of the State. A sheriff of a county with a population of less than 2,000,000 may employ civilian personnel to serve process. In counties with a population of less than 2,000,000, process may be served, without special appointment, by a person who is licensed or registered as a private detective under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004 or by a registered employee of a private detective agency certified under that Act. A private detective or licensed employee must supply the sheriff of any county in which he serves process with a copy of his license or certificate; however, the failure of a person to supply the copy shall not in any way impair the validity of process served by the person. The court may, in its discretion upon motion, order service to be made by a private person over 18 years of age and not a party to the action. It is not necessary that service be made by a sheriff or coroner of the county in which service is made. If served or sought to be served by a sheriff or coroner, he or she shall endorse his or her return thereon, and if by a private person the return shall be by affidavit.

There is no statewide licensing law in Illinois; however, a person licensed in Illinois as a “private detective” may serve original process in all counties except for Cook County without special appointment. In order for PIs to serve in Cook County, the court upon motion and in its discretion, may appoint a “private detective agency” as a special process server in lieu of an individual. It is not necessary that service be made only by a sheriff or PI. Private persons over the age of 18, upon motion, may be appointed by the court to serve original process. [Illinois Compiled Statutes §5/2-202]

Illinois Civil Procedure Note. Whoever knowingly resists or obstructs the authorized service or execution of any civil or criminal process or order of any court commits a Class B misdemeanor. [Illinois Compiled Statutes: Criminal Offenses, Criminal Cod of 1961. (720 ILCS 5/31-3) Sec 31-3. Obstructing service of process]

Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure. Please note that lobbyists are active in the state of Illinois and laws concerning civil procedure and process serving can change. Therefore the information listed below may have been amended. For updated process serving legislation, please visit the Illinois State Legislature web site.

Chapter 735. Civil Procedure

Chapter 735. Civil Procedure

735 ILCS 5/2-201. Commencement of actions – Forms of process.

735 ILCS 5/2-202. Persons authorized to serve process; Place of service; Failure to make return.

Process shall be served by a sheriff, or if the sheriff is disqualified, by a coroner of some county of the State. A sheriff of a county with a population of less than 2,000,000 (one million) may employ civilian personnel to serve process. In counties with a population of less than 2,000,000 (two million), process may be served, without special appointment, by a person who is licensed or registered as a private detective under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004 or by a registered employee of a private detective agency certified under that Act. A private detective or licensed employee must supply the sheriff of any county in which he serves process with a copy of his license or certificate; however, the failure of a person to supply the copy shall not in any way impair the validity of process served by the person. The court may, in its discretion upon motion, order service to be made by a private person over 18 years of age and not a party to the action. It is not necessary that service be made by a sheriff or coroner of the county in which service is made. If served or sought to be served by a sheriff or coroner, he or she shall endorse his or her return thereon, and if by a private person the return shall be by affidavit.

(a – 5) Upon motion and in its discretion, the court may appoint as a special process server a private detective agency certified under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004. Under the appointment, any employee of the private detective agency who is registered under that Act may serve the process. The motion and the order of appointment must contain the number of the certificate issued to the private detective agency by the Department of Professional Regulation under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004.

Summons may be served upon the defendants wherever they may be found in the State, by any person authorized to serve process. An officer may serve summons in his or her official capacity outside his or her county, but fees for mileage outside the county of the officer cannot be taxed as costs. The person serving the process in a foreign county may make return by mail.

If any sheriff, coroner, or other person to whom any process is delivered, neglects or refuses to make return of the same, the plaintiff may petition the court to enter a rule requiring the sheriff, coroner, or other person, to make return of the process on a day to be fixed by the court, or to show cause on that day why that person should not be attached for contempt of the court. The plaintiff shall then cause a written notice of the rule to be served on the sheriff, coroner, or other person. If good and sufficient cause be not shown to excuse the officer or other person, the court shall adjudge him or her guilty of a contempt, and shall impose punishment as in other cases of contempt.

If process is served by a sheriff or coroner, the court may tax the fee of the sheriff or coroner as costs in the proceeding. If process is served by a private person or entity, the court may establish a fee therefor and tax such fee as costs in the proceedings.

In addition to the powers stated in Section 8.1a of the Housing Authorities Act, in counties with a population of 3,000,000 or more inhabitants, members of a housing authority police force may serve process for forcible entry and detainer actions commenced by that housing authority and may execute orders of possession for that housing authority.

In counties with a population of 3,000,000 or more, process may be served, with special appointment by the court, by a private process server or a law enforcement agency other than the county sheriff in proceedings instituted under the Forcible Entry and Detainer Article of this Code as a result of a lessor or lessor’s assignee declaring a lease void pursuant to Section 11 of the Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act.

Case Notes:

735 ILCS 5/2-203. Service on individuals.

Case Notes:

735 ILCS 5/2-203.1. Service by special order of court.

If service upon an individual defendant is impractical under items (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of Section 2-203, the plaintiff may move, without notice, that the court enter an order directing a comparable method of service. The motion shall be accompanied with an affidavit stating the nature and extent of the investigation made to determine the whereabouts of the defendant and the reasons why service is impractical under items (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of Section 2-203, including a specific statement showing that a diligent inquiry as to the location of the individual defendant was made and reasonable efforts to make service have been unsuccessful. The court may order service to be made in any manner consistent with due process. (Source: P.A. 87-1165.)

735 ILCS 5/2-204. Service on private corporations.

A private corporation may be served (1) by leaving a copy of the process with its registered agent or any officer or agent of the corporation found anywhere in the State; or (2) in any other manner now or hereafter permitted by law. A private corporation may also be notified by publication and mail in like manner and with like effect as individuals. (Source: P.A. 83-707.)

735 ILCS 5/2-205. Service on partnership and partners.

735 ILCS 5/2-205.1. Service on voluntary unincorporated associations.

A voluntary unincorporated association sued in its own name may be served by leaving a copy of the process with any officer of the association personally or by leaving a copy of the process at the office of the association with an agent of the association. A voluntary unincorporated association sued in its own name may also be notified by publication and mail in like manner and with like effect as individuals. (Source: P.A. 83-901.)

735 ILCS 5/2-208. Personal service outside State.

Case Note:

Attempted service by mail to Taiwanese corporation in Taiwan and to its sales representative in Indiana were insufficient; no federal statute authorized territorial service of Taiwanese corporation, and, according to Illinois statutory law, parties located outside of the forum state had to be personally served. Electronic Signals Products, Inc., v. Eastern Electronic Co. Ltd., 783 F.Supp. 1135 (N.D. Ill. 1992).

735 ILCS 5/2-209. Act submitting to jurisdiction – Process.

735 ILCS 5/2-211. Service on public, municipal, governmental and quasi-municipal corporations.

In actions against public, municipal, governmental or quasi-municipal corporations, summons may be served by leaving a copy with the chairperson of the county board or county clerk in the case of a county, with the mayor or city clerk in the case of a city, with the president of the board of trustees or village clerk in the case of a village, with the supervisor or town clerk in the case of a town, and with the president or clerk or other officer corresponding thereto in the case of any other public, municipal, governmental or quasi-municipal corporation or body. (Source: P.A. 82-280.)

735 ILCS 5/2-212. Service on trustee of corporation or receiver.

Any trustee of a corporation or its property or any receiver may be served with summons (1) in any manner provided for service on individuals or corporations, as is appropriate, or (2) by leaving a copy thereof with any agent in the employ of the trustee or receiver anywhere in the State. The trustee or receiver may also be notified by publication and mail in like manner and with like effect as individuals. (Source: P.A. 82-280.)

You should contact an Illinois Process Server if you have specific questions about Process Serving in Illinois.