Serve Provincial Court documents by personal service

Introduction

If you have to serve a document on the other person by personal service, you can ask a friend or relative, or hire a professional process server.

If you hire a professional process server, you might want to get quotes from several because prices vary. Make sure they'll provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service (Form 5). This affidavit is your proof to the court that you had the documents served on the other person.

What if this guide isn't for you

If the other person lives outside BC or outside Canada, see Serve court documents outside BC.

If you can't serve the documents (for example, if the other party is avoiding service), see our guide Arrange for alternative (substitutional) service.

Make copies

Make copies of the documents you want to have served. Include copies of any attachments.

Make at least two copies of each document: one set for the other person and one set to attach to the Affidavit of Personal Service (Form 5). Keep the originals together.

To find out if you need more copies, see the appropriate step-by-step guide or contact family duty counsel.

Have the documents served

Give the process server (a professional or your friend or relative):

  • two copies of all documents and attachments — one to give to the other person and one attached to the Affidavit of Service;
  • the other person's address at home and at work;
  • the other person's telephone number (so the process server can call to arrange a time for service); and
  • a recent and accurate photograph of the other person.

The process server will have to ask the other party for photo ID at the time of service to prove that they knew they were serving on the right person.

If you don't have a photograph, give the process server a written physical description of the other person. Include height, hair colour, eye colour, and any other characteristics that might help the process server identify the other person.

The process server's role

The process server must then:

  • compare the document copies to the originals to make sure they're the same;
  • give one set of copies to the other person, and save the other set to attach to the affidavit;
  • ask the other person for photo ID;
  • make a note of the date and time where the documents were served (this information is needed for the affidavit); and
  • record the number of the photo ID provided by the person being served.

Receive an Affidavit of Service

If you hired a process server, they will provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service.

If a friend or relative is your process server, they'll need to fill out the affidavit. They need to attach the copies of the served documents and the photograph (if used) to the affidavit. They can use the blank Affidavit of Personal Service (Form 5) that's on page 7 of the Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1) on the provincial Family Court Forms page. They can also get the printed form from the court registry and fill it out by hand. (These forms come with all necessary copies attached.) The form has instructions to help them fill it out. 

Each copy the served documents must be marked as an "Exhibit" and labelled "A," "B," "C," etc. (depending on how many documents there are). If the documents aren't attached and properly marked, the affidavit won't be accepted by the court and you'll have to have the documents served again.

Your friend or relative must then take the affidavit (with the attachments) to a lawyer, notary public, or clerk at the court registry to swear or affirm that the documents have been served. (There's a fee for this.) The lawyer, notary, or clerk will sign the affidavit, and stamp and sign each attachment.

Be sure to keep the sworn Affidavit of Service with your file.