How Much Does A Process Server Cost in California

August 10, 2023

The legal system relies on process serving to make sure all parties involved in legal proceedings receive proper notice. So, how much does it cost? Our experienced Los Angeles Process Servers have put together this handy guide so you know exactly what to expect.

This article will explore the cost of process serving in California and provide insight into the financial aspect of the process.

How much does a Process Server Cost in California?

The cost of process servers varies depending on several factors. On average, however, the typical cost of process servers range from $40 to $200 per service.

The two main factors that affect the range of the cost to process the case are location and the nature of the case. You’ll want to hire a process server in the same county as the court where service is required. Process servers tend to charge extra for the delivery of legal documents outside the jurisdictions they are in.

What is Included in the Processing Server Fees?

What is Included in the Processing Server Fees?

A process server is a professional who delivers legal documents like subpoenas, summonses, writs, and other court documents to the intended recipient in any legal proceeding. Their job is to ensure that these documents get to their intended recipient legally and on time.

As we mentioned before, processing and server charges and fees vary due to different factors, including jurisdiction. The cost of a process server is divided into two categories: basic services and extra services.

Cost of Process Server Basic Service Fee

The basic service fee encompasses different components, which include:

1. Document Preparation

This entails reviewing all the legal documents, printing all the necessary court documents to be delivered to the recipients, and ensuring they are correctly formatted.

2. Service of Process

This is the main task of delivering the legal documents to the recipients in person by professional process servers after identifying the intended recipients.

3. Proof of Service

After the process server delivers the legal documents to the intended recipient, they need to obtain proof that the documents have been delivered to the intended individual. This proof might be in the form of a certificate of service, an affidavit, or even a photograph.

4. Mileage and Travel Expenses

Mileage and Travel Expenses

If the process server requires travel to deliver the legal documents, then mileage and travel expenses are included in the basic service fee. In some cases, particularly if the process server needs to travel out of their jurisdiction to deliver the legal documents, the mileage and travel expenses are calculated as extra costs.

5. Multiple attempts

The process server might not locate the intended recipient on the first attempt; the basic service fee includes the expense of the process server trying to locate the intended recipient on multiple occasions.

6. Filing of Affidavit or Proof of Service

The process server might be required to file their proof of service with the court as proof of successful delivery to the recipient. This service is sometimes covered by the basic service fee.

7. Notarizations

Some jurisdictions in California require the proof of service to be notarized; the notarization fee is covered in the basic service fee.

8. Research and Skip Tracing

In situations where the intended recipient’s location is unknown, the professional process server might be required to do research on the recipient’s whereabouts to try and track them. The cost incurred during research and tracking of the intended recipient is covered by the basic service fee.

Extra Costs Aside From the Basic Service Fee

Extra Costs Aside From the Basic Service Fee

Some of these extra services include:

1. Rush service

If you need the legal documents to be delivered within a specific timeline, then the process server is likely to charge you extra; this is commonly known as a rush service fee.

2. After-hours or Weekend services

If you require the process server to deliver legal documents outside of the normal hours of operations, then the process server is likely to charge you extra.

3. Difficult Location

If the recipient is in a difficult-to-access location, then the process server is likely to charge you extra to deliver the legal document in such an area.

4. Court Filings

Depending on the process server, you might be charged extra if the process server files the proof of service to the court on your behalf. Some process servers, however, include this service in the basic service fee.

5. Translation services

If the legal documents need to be translated into a different language for the intended recipients to fully understand them, then the process server is likely to charge you extra.

6. Legal research

When the process server is required to conduct legal research in order to deliver the legal documents in line with the laws and regulations, then the process server is likely to charge you extra.

Factors Affecting the Cost to Serve Someone in California

Factors Affecting the Cost to Serve Someone in California

The total expense incurred by the process server in delivering legal documents is typically referred to as the cost-to-serve. Some of the factors that might affect the cost to serve include:

Distance and Location: The cost of serving someone in California or any other location can be greatly affected by the distance the process server needs to cover to deliver the legal documents. This cost may be higher or lower, depending on the location.

The complexity of the Case: The complexity of a legal case can significantly affect the cost of serving in California. Various factors, such as case type, number of parties, volume of evidence, and legal issues, can have a significant impact on the cost to serve.

Number of Attempts: The cost of serving legal documents in California can be influenced by the number of unsuccessful attempts that the process server makes to deliver the legal document to the intended recipient. The more attempts, the more expenses, including process server fees, travel expenses, time and resources, administrative fees, and any other legal fees incurred during the period of trying to deliver legal documents to the intended recipient.

Urgency and Time Frame: The cost of legal document services depends on urgency and time frame. Faster delivery and services outside of regular business hours may cost more.

Ways to Mitigate the Cost of a Process Server

Ways to Mitigate the Cost of a Process Server

The cost of a process server is often high for most individuals who require this service. If you ever require a process server, there are several ways you can mitigate costs..

One of those ways is to bundle services. If you have multiple recipients you need to serve, you can inquire about a discount for bundling the services together.

Additionally, hiring a local process server who is in the same location as the intended location can reduce extra costs such as travel and mileage expenses.

In scenarios where using other methods of service, like electronic service, is legally allowed, explore other alternatives that are cost-friendly.

Try to provide the process server with more than one address. In some cases, the intended recipient may not be at their primary address; it is important to provide other addresses, such as their workplace, to avoid failed attempts at delivering the legal documents to the intended recipient.

Inquire from multiple process servers about their services and their costs. It is also advisable to try to negotiate their fees to secure competitive pricing.

Always plan ahead and avoid last-minute rush service since it costs extra for rush service. Give the process server enough time to identify the recipient and successfully deliver the documents to the recipient.

If it is possible, conduct preservice investigations to identify the location of the intended recipient before seeking out the services of a process server. By doing this, you can cut costs and also ensure that the legal documents are delivered promptly and efficiently.

How to Choose a Process Server in California

Choosing the process server is easier said than done. The right process server ensures efficient from start to finish for all the parties involved.

To choose a process server that’s right for you, do your due diligence and ensure that the process server you settle for will follow the required due process.

When choosing a process server, consider their experience and credentials. Ask about their experience and the types of cases they have handled. Confirm certifications or licenses. On-Call Legal, for example, has over a decade of experience and a 99% success rate.

The reputation of a process server can provide insights into their reliability and professionalism. Check their website, social media profiles, and online directories for reviews. Take note of whether past clients found them to be efficient in serving papers, whether they practiced due diligence, and if they exhibited professionalism in their conduct.

Prices among process servers can vary significantly. To understand what you’re paying for, ask for a detailed breakdown of the costs. This breakdown should include the cost of attempts to serve papers, travel expenses, and any additional services like filing court documents.

A competent process server must comply with all state and local laws. They should also be familiar with local regulations and court procedures to ensure legal validity.


In California, the cost of process serving varies based on location, case complexity, and additional services. Other factors include document preparation, service and proof of service, travel expenses, rush services, difficult locations, court filings, translation, and legal research. It’s important to choose a process server with experience, credentials, reputation, compliance, and transparent costs to ensure a fair legal system.

If you ever find yourself in need of a professional process server who will make this whole process seamless for you and all the parties involved, Get in touch with On-Call Legal and we will ensure you have a smooth experience.

On-demand legal services with arranging services from eFiling to organizing and preparing your subpoena for records and/or personal appearance and much more.

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Proud member of the California Association of Legal Support Professionals (CALSPro), National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) and Serve-Now Network of Process Servers

National Association of Professional Process Servers   California Association of Legal Support Pros   Local Process Servers

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