Serve documents outside BC by personal service (Provincial or Supreme)

Introduction

This guide is about how to serve documents by personal service outside BC. All the important documents that start a case in either the Supreme Court or Provincial Court must be personally served.

For example,

  • the Supreme Court Notice of Family Claim (Form F3),
  • the Provincial Court Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1), and
  • the Provincial Court Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements (Form 2)

must be served by personal service.

Options for personal service outside BC

There are two ways to personally serve documents outside BC:

  • You can find a process server in that area to serve the documents for you. This can be either a professional or a friend or family member.
  • If the other person lives in a country that has signed the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, you could choose to have the documents served on them by following the procedures set out in that convention. See HCCH Members and the Hague Service Convention.

Get a process server

You can ask a friend or family member who lives near the other person to act as a process server and serve the documents for you. Or you can hire a professional process server in the area.

Whoever serves the documents will have to fill out and swear or affirm an Affidavit of Personal Service so you can prove to the court that the documents were given to the other person.

Process servers charge different amounts. Before you hire a process server, get quotes from several companies and check that they will provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service.

If the other party is avoiding service, see our guide Arrange for alternative (substitutional) service.

Prepare the documents

Make copies

Make the necessary number of copies of the documents you want to have served. You'll need at least one copy (or set of copies) for the other person and one for the process server to attach to the Affidavit of Personal Service. Keep all the originals together.

To find out if you need any more copies, see the relevant step of the step-by-step guide you're using on this site or contact family duty counsel and ask.

Give the documents to the process server

Once you've found someone to serve your documents, you need to give the process server

  • two copies of all documents to be served;
  • the other person's home or work address, or directions about where to find them;
  • the other person's phone number and email address, if possible (so the process server can call to arrange a time for service);
  • a recent and accurate photo of the other person (or a written description of the person), if the process server doesn't know the person being served; and
  • a copy of "How to personally serve documents for a British Columbia family law process" for either Supreme or Provincial Court.

Provincial Court

Download a copy of "How to personally serve documents for a British Columbia (Canada) Provincial Court family law process":

Supreme Court

Download a copy of "How to personally serve documents for a British Columbia (Canada) Supreme Court family law process":

If the process server has to use a photograph (Supreme Court)

You'll need:

If you're serving Supreme Court documents and the process server has to use a photograph to identify the other person, fill out an Affidavit (Form F30). In the Affidavit, confirm that the photograph is a true likeness of the person being served. Attach a copy of the photograph to this Affidavit and have it sworn or affirmed by a commissioner for taking affidavits.

See Who can swear an affidavit? to find out who can act as a commissioner.

If you don't have a photograph and the process server doesn't know the person being served, they will need to ask for photo identification (ID) and record the ID number at the time of service.

Receive the sworn affidavit

The process server serves the documents

The process server must then serve the documents, carefully following the steps in either

  • "How to personally serve documents for a British Columbia (Canada) Supreme Court family law process," or
  • "How to personally serve documents for a British Columbia (Canada) Provincial Court family law process."

Receive an Affidavit of Personal Service

If you hired a process server, they will now provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service. If a friend or relative is your process server, they will have to fill in the details needed on the Affidavit of Personal Service form.

The server will have to send the affidavit to you. You can then use the Affidavit of Personal Service to prove to the court that the documents were served on the other party. If copies of the documents that were served aren't attached, properly marked, and properly signed, the affidavit won't be accepted by the court and you'll have to have the documents served again. Be sure to keep the completed and sworn Affidavit of Personal Service with your file.

Affidavits must be sworn by a commissioner for taking affidavits. To find out who's a commissioner or who can act as one, see Who can swear an Affidavit?.


You've now gone through all the steps required to serve documents by personal service outside BC.

For more information about serving court documents, see Rule 6-5 of the Supreme Court Family Rules or Rule 9 of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules.