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Service of Process 101

Service of process is the procedure of properly notifying a person or business of legal action. State-registered businesses like LLCs and corporations must typically designate someone to receive service of process on their behalf. This “someone” is called a registered agent. Your registered agent can either be a person or a service provider like Northwest. When you hire Northwest as your registered agent, we receive all your service of process documents and immediately upload them to your account.

Below, we answer all of your service of process questions, including how we at Northwest work to ensure you receive your service of process intact and on time:

Service of Process at Northwest Registered Agent

What is service of process?

Service of process (SOP) is a legal term for lawsuits, summons, subpoenas, and court documents—notifications of some type of legal action. In the US, courts are required to give notice to individuals and businesses when any legal action is filed against them. This is called due process, and is one of the “inalienable” rights protected by the US Constitution.

Who sends service of process?

Service of process is generated by the district court where legal action is taken.

For example, if your business is sued by a company based in Cincinnati, OH, the Hamilton County Clerk’s office (which services Cincinnati) will locate your business in your state’s public record and find your registered agent. Your registered agent will then receive the service of process generated by the Hamilton County Clerk’s office.

How does Northwest receive service of process?

Service of process is typically delivered by a law enforcement officer or a process server. While a service processor can be anyone over the age of 18, professional services are often used to ensure legal documents are delivered in compliance with the laws of a particular state.

When does Northwest receive service of process?

As your registered agent, we receive service of process at our offices Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

What does Northwest do with service of process?

Because service of process is time sensitive, Northwest scans SOP documents as soon as possible (within 24 hours) and uploads them to your client account. You will then be notified via email that there is a new service of process in your online account for review.

What if I don’t see NW’s email about my SOP?

If a service of process remains unread for more than three days, we’ll mail you a physical letter to let you know we received a service of process on your behalf. We will also attempt to reach you at the phone number provided in your account.

Will Northwest notify my attorney of service of process?

Yes, but only if you’ve provided your attorney’s information in your online account. If your Northwest account includes your attorney’s email address, an email will also be sent to your attorney to notify them that Northwest received service of process on behalf of their client.

How long does it take Northwest clients to get service of process?

Once Northwest receives service of process, the document will get scanned and uploaded to your Northwest account within an hour. (On busy days, it will be in your account within 24 hours max.) From there, you can view, download, or print your service of process as needed. Should you require the original documents, you may request the original within 60 days of receipt.

How do I request my original service of process documents?

You can email us directly to request the original service of process documents. When you receive an email notification that a new SOP is available in your online account for review, you can simply reply with the address you’d like us to forward it to. (Be sure to let us know if you require next-day shipping, priority mail, or basic tracking.)

Like any document Northwest receives on your behalf, the original SOP will be stored at our facility for 60 days, and then securely destroyed. The complete digital copy of your SOP will be available in your account for life.

Does Northwest forward any checks that might come with SOP?

Yes. If your service of process comes with a check, we will scan the check into your account then automatically forward it to the mailing address associated with your account.

Is a registered agent the same as a process agent?

Not quite. The term “process agent” refers to someone who receives legal notices on behalf of a motor carrier, broker, or freight forwarder, as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Process agents and registered agents essentially provide the same service, only the process agent works specifically in the transportation realm. (Any company required to submit form BOC-3 to the FMCSA must use a process agent.) Here at Northwest, our process agent services are separate from our registered agent services.

To learn more about BOC-3s and process agents, check out Northwest’s page: BOC-3 Process Agent for Motor Carriers.

Northwest Can Help!

If you have additional questions about service of process or registered agent services, Contact Us! One of our expert Corporate Guides can walk you through any step of the process, or answer any lingering questions you may have. If you’re ready to hire Northwest as your registered agent now, you can Place A Registered Agent Service Order.

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