Serve documents outside BC by personal service (Provincial or Supreme)

Provincial Court
Supreme Court

Introduction

This guide explains how to serve documents by personal service outside BC. All the important documents that start a case in either the Supreme Court or Provincial Court must be personally served.

For example,

  • the Supreme Court Notice of Family Claim (Form F3), and
  • the Provincial Court Application About a Family Law Matter (Form 3)

must be served by personal service.

Options for personal service outside BC

There are two ways to personally serve documents outside BC:

  • You can find a process server in that area to serve the documents for you. This can be either a professional or a friend or family member.
  • If the other person lives in a country that has signed the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, the BC Ministry of Justice may arrange to serve the documents for you. See "How Do I Serve a Foreign Court Document?" on the Courthouse Library website.

This guide explains how to serve documents using a process server.

Get a process server

You can ask a friend or family member who lives near the other person to act as a process server and serve the documents for you. Or you can hire a professional process server in the area.

For a Supreme Court document and for a protection order made in Provincial Court, whoever serves the documents will have to fill out and swear or affirm an Affidavit of Personal Service so you can prove to the court that the documents were given to the other person. For other Provincial Court documents, they just have to fill out a Certificate of Service. The certificate doesn't have to be sworn.

Process servers charge different amounts. Before you hire a process server, get quotes from several companies. If you require an Affidavit of Personal Service, check that they'll provide you with a sworn affidavit.

If the other party is avoiding service, see our guide Arrange for alternative (substitutional) service.

Prepare the documents

Make copies

Make the necessary number of copies of the documents you want to have served. You'll need at least one copy (or set of copies) for the other person and one for the process server to attach to the Certificate of Service or Affidavit of Personal Service. Keep your own copy in a safe place.

To find out if you need any more copies, see the relevant step of the step-by-step guide you're using on this site, call the court registry, or contact family duty counsel.

Give the documents to the process server

Once you've found someone to serve your documents, you need to give the process server:

  • two copies of all documents to be served;
  • the other person's home or work address, or directions about where to find them;
  • the other person's phone number and email address, if possible (so the process server can call to arrange a time for service);
  • a recent and accurate photo of the other person (or a written description of the person), if the process server doesn't know the person being served;
  • a copy of "How to personally serve documents for a British Columbia family law process" for either Supreme or Provincial Court; and
  • for a Provincial Court document, a copy of the Certificate of Service (Form 7), or for a Provincial Court protection order, a copy of the Affidavit of Personal Service of Protection Order (Form 49).

Provincial Court

Download a PDF of "How to personally serve documents for a Provincial Court of British Columbia (Canada) family law process."

Download the form:

Supreme Court

Download a PDF of "How to personally serve documents for a Supreme Court of British Columbia (Canada) family law process":

Supreme Court: If the process server has to use a photo

For Supreme Court documents, if the process server has to use a photo to identify the other person, you must fill out an affidavit (Form F30):

In the affidavit, confirm that the photo is a true likeness of the person being served. Attach a copy of the photo to this affidavit and have it sworn or affirmed by a commissioner for taking affidavits. See Who can swear an affidavit? Let your process server know that you'll file this affidavit.

If you don't have a photo and the process server doesn't know the person being served, they'll need to ask for photo identification (ID) and record the ID number at the time of service.

Receive the Certificate of Service or sworn affidavit

The process server serves the documents

The process server must then serve the documents, carefully following the steps in either

  • "How to personally serve documents for a Supreme Court of British Columbia (Canada) family law process," or
  • "How to personally serve documents for a Provincial Court of British Columbia (Canada) family law process."

Receive a Certificate of Service or an Affidavit of Personal Service

If you hired a process server, they'll now provide you with a Certificate of Service or a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service. If a friend or relative is your process server, they should have filled out the certificate or affidavit and sworn the affidavit.

The server will have to send the certificate or affidavit to you. You can then use the document to prove to the court that the documents were served on the other party.

For a Supreme Court document, if copies of the documents that were served aren't attached, properly marked, and properly signed, the document won't be accepted by the court and you'll have to have the documents served again. For a Provincial Court document, if the person who was served acknowledges in writing that they received the documents, the court will consider the person was served even if the certificate or affidavit of service wasn’t completed properly. Be sure to keep the completed Certificate of Service or completed and sworn Affidavit of Personal Service with your files.

Affidavits must be sworn by a commissioner for taking affidavits. To find out who's a commissioner or who can act as one, see Who can swear an affidavit?


You've now gone through all the steps required to serve documents by personal service outside BC. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.