Become a Server
Process Server Registration Information
The following information is intended as a general guideline in order to register as a process server in the State of California. The basis for this information is California Business and Professions Code § 22350 – 22360. Consult with the County Clerk/Recorder’s Office in your county for fees and further information. The term of a process server’s registration is two years.
To register as a process server, you will need to do the following:
- COMPLETE A REGISTRATION FORM. Obtain from the County Clerk/Recorder’s Office a process server’s registration form. Complete, but do not sign the form until you are in the presence of the Clerk.
- GET FINGERPRINTED. Fingerprints are required in order to become a registered process server. The purpose of the fingerprinting process is verification that an applicant has not been convicted of a felony. In the case that a registrant is convicted of a felony, the presiding superior court judge in the county of registration will review the criminal file. If there is not certificate of rehabilitation, expungement or pardon, the registration is revoked.There are two forms of fingerprints. Check with the Clerk/Recorder in your County to verify which method is acceptable. In some counties, either is acceptable.
FD-285 Fingerprint Cards: Two fingerprint cards are required, as one will be submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the other will be submitted to the FBI. Typically, you will be fingerprinted at your local police or sheriff’s department. You may need an appointment, so call ahead. Be prepared to show valid photo ID. The fee for fingerprinting is nominal. However, please be advised that at the time you register and deliver your cards to the Clerk/Recorder’s Office, you will need to pay background service fees for the DOJ and FBI of $56.00. This differs from the Live Scan process (below) where those fees are paid at the time of the fingerprinting.
Live Scan: This second method of fingerprinting has become the more popular of the two methods. In some counties, Live Scan may be the only acceptable method. Check with your Clerk/Recorder’s Office for details. You will need to complete a Request For Live Scan form. As with the FD-285 cards, Live Scans are typically completed by local law enforcement agencies. You may need an appointment, so call ahead. Be prepared to show valid photo ID
Once the fingerprints are taken, the print and background information provided in the Request form are electronically transmitted to the DOJ and FBI for the background check. You will not carry fingerprint cards to the Clerk/Recorder as with FD-285 cards. Alternatively, you will bring with you a copy of the completed Request For Live Scan form that has been signed off by the law enforcement personnel who administered the Live Scan. Please also note that the fee for a Live Scan includes the law enforcement agency’s fingerprint fee, as well as $56.00 to the DOJ and FBI. The total is approximately $75.00.
- OBTAIN A BOND. A $2,000 bond is required in order to register as a process server. You must contact an insurance or surety company in order to obtain a bond. The bond must be valid for the two-year term of the registration. The effective date of the bond and the date of the term of the registration must match, so plan ahead, particularly since fingerprinting appointments might be booked weeks in advance. You should expect to pay approximately $50.00 for a $2,000 bond. Do not confuse a surety bond with an errors and omissions policy. Consult your insurance company for a detailed explanation. You may contact any bonding or insurance company.
- PHOTOGRAPHS. You will need to obtain two passport photos (1” x 1”).
- FEES. The base fee to register as a process server is $134.00. Some counties may charge more. You will also be charged a recording fee for the Bond of approximately $3.00. If you opted for FD-285 Fingerprint cards, be prepared to pay the DOJ and FBI fees of $56.00 at this time.
Once you have completed steps 1 through 5, you are ready to appear before the county clerk to deliver the registration form; the FD-285 Fingerprint cards or Live Scan form signed off by law enforcement. You will need to bring your Bond, the two passport photos, and appropriate fees. Be prepared to show valid photo ID. As mentioned above, each county in California may have specific rules, forms & fees. The foregoing is intended as a general summary for your assistance only.
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