Service in a District Court Civil Action
Service in a state district court civil action is delivery of a copy of the documents you plan to file on all other parties in the case. You’re required to do this for almost all of the documents you plan to file with the court.
How you serve the documents depends on if you’re starting a new case, or if your case has already started.
- If you’re starting a new case by serving a summons and complaint (or summons and petition), see Service to Start a District Court Civil Action
- If your case has already started, meaning a summons and complaint (or summons and petition) have been served on the defendant(s) or respondent(s) in the case, see Service After a District Court Civil Action Has Started
Proof of service shows the state district court when, how, and where the other parties were served. Proof of service also shows the documents that were served. An affidavit, declaration of service, or certificate of service gives the court proof of service.
If proof of service isn't filed, the court won't take action on your case.
Service in Other States
You may serve someone in another state the same way you serve someone in North Dakota. You may also serve someone in another state by following that state’s rules for service.
If a court order tells how you’re required to serve someone in another state, follow the court order.
Service in a Foreign Country
Service in a foreign country can be confusing and difficult. Consult a lawyer for help, if you’re uncertain how to correctly serve someone in a foreign country.
Rule 4(f) of the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure allows someone in a foreign country to be served “by any internationally agreed means of service that is reasonably calculated to give notice, such as … the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents.”
- If there aren’t any internationally agreed ways to serve someone, Rule 4(f) of the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure lists other acceptable options for service.
More information about serving someone in a foreign country is available at the US Department of State website.
Forms and Instructions for Service in a District Court Civil Action
Service to Start a District Court Civil Action:
In North Dakota, civil actions start with service of the summons and complaint (or summons and petition) on the defendant(s), or respondent(s), in the case. Service to start a case is also called service of process.
- Information and Instructions for Service to Start a District Court Civil Action
- Information and Instructions for Service by Publication
Service After a District Court Civil Action Has Started:
Service requirements are more lenient after the summons and complaint (or petition) are served. Almost everything you plan to file with the court, and every order or judgment must be served.
- Information and Instructions for Service After a District Court Civil Action Has Started
Selected Statutes (Laws) & Rules
Following are legal research starting points related service in a district court civil action. You may need to conduct additional legal research into your legal issue. See the Legal Research Section of this website.
- Rule 4 of the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure
- Rule 5 of the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure
If you don't understand any of this information, or if you have trouble filling out any of the forms located here, consult a lawyer.
The information provided on and obtained from this site doesn't constitute the official record of the Court. This information is provided as a service to the general public. Any user of this information is hereby advised that it is being provided "as is". The information provided may be subject to errors or omissions. Visitors to this site agree that the Court isn't liable for errors or omissions of any of the information provided.
If you have a question relating to a case that is already filed please contact the clerk of court for the county.