Serving court papers

If you sue in civil court or file criminal charges against a person, business or government agency, you must notify the other side that you have started the legal process.

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Serving court papers

If you have never served court papers before, learning about the process can be complicated. The ACCESS Center at the Superior Court can help explain the steps to follow. You may not serve your own papers.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office (SFSO) offers the following types of document service:

If you do not see the service you are seeking, please contact our office for more information. 

Get help

ACCESS Center
Legal self-help at the San Francisco Superior Court

San Francisco Superior Court: Service of Court Papers
Type of available restraining orders and eligibility requirements

San Francisco Sheriff’s Office Instructions for Service

Serving another person, business, or government agency

You may instruct the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office to serve your court documents as long as they are located in San Francisco county. If the person you want to serve is in another county, please contact the Sheriff of that county. 

To have the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office (SFSO) serve your papers:

  • Go in person to the SFSO headquarters at City Hall, 4th Floor, Room 456
  • Provide two complete sets of court-certified service documents
  • Complete and sign the SFSO instructions for service (only you or your attorney may sign the instructions)
  • Provide a fixed address where the person to be served either lives or works
  • Pay the civil processing fee for service to SFSO unless the court has waived your fee

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office will make up to three attempts to serve your court documents. We do not serve documents on weekends and holidays. SFSO will provide proof of service showing whether or not we delivered your order. If we are unsuccessful, you may refile your paperwork with the courts.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office cannot provide legal advice. If you have a legal problem, we suggest contacting an attorney. 

CA Business & Professions Code Section 6125
Government Code 24004