Serve documents outside BC

You may have started a court process in BC but need to serve documents on someone who's living outside of BC. Even if you haven't seen the other person in many years, you're still required to serve the documents.

Generally, you serve documents on someone who lives outside BC the same way you would serve someone in BC. This is true whether the person lives in another Canadian province or territory, or in another country.

There are two types of service:

  • Personal service means someone must physically hand the document to the person who needs to receive it. Even if it were possible, you can't do it yourself — you must have another adult serve it for you. This can be a friend or relative, or you can hire a professional process server.
  • Ordinary service or delivery means getting the documents to the other person by mail, fax, email, or by dropping them off. You can only serve by fax or email if the other person has included their fax number or email address as an address for service on their court documents.
Supreme Court uses the term ordinary service and Provincial Court uses the term delivery, but it means the same thing.

Which documents need to be personally served?

The court rules use the word serve to describe both personal service and ordinary service or delivery, so you need to figure out whether a document needs to be served personally.

Provincial Court documents that must be served personally:

  • Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1)
  • Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements (Form 2)
  • Order to Recognize an Extraprovincial Order for Guardianship, Parenting Arrangements or Contact (Form 22)
  • A request for court enforcement under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act
  • A subpoena
  • A summons

There are different rules for personal service on the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (and in some other special situations). See Rule 9(1) of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules

Supreme Court documents that must be served personally:

  • Notice of Family Claim (Form F3)
  • Notice of Withdrawal (Form F7)
  • Notice of Application (Form F31) to change, suspend, or terminate a final order
  • Notice of Application to set aside any part of an agreement
  • Petition (Form F73)

See the Supreme Court Family Rules (Rule 6-3) for the full list of documents that need to be personally served.

All other documents can be served by ordinary service or delivery.

Once you've figured out how to serve the document, choose a guide below.

Ordinary service or delivery

If your documents don't need to be personally served, you can serve the documents in the same way you would if the person was in BC. See the step-by-step guides

Personal service

Click the button Personal service for our guide on how to have Provincial or Supreme Court documents personally served outside BC.

Personal service