Serve Provincial Court documents by ordinary or personal service

Provincial Court


If you have to serve a document on the other person and they live in BC, you must do it either by personal service (having a third person give it to them) or by ordinary service (dropping it off or sending it by mail, email, or fax).

If the other person lives outside BC or outside Canada, see Serve documents outside BC.

If you can't serve the documents (for example, if the other party is avoiding service), see Arrange for alternative (substitutional) service.

Which method of service do you need?

The document you need to serve will usually say how you must serve it. Staff at the court registry can also tell you how you must serve a document.

You must serve the following forms (and any related attachments) by personal service:

  • an Application About a Family Law Matter (Form 3); 
  • an Application About a Protection Order, unless you're asking for an "urgent order without notice"; 
  • a Protection Order (the registry will arrange to serve this document if the person is in BC); 
  • an Application About Priority Parenting Matter (Form 15) (if the court file doesn't have an address for service for the other person).

Check the instructions on the form you need to serve. Other forms may have to be served by personal service if there is no address for service in the court file.

All other documents can be served by ordinary service.

You can serve documents by ordinary service yourself, by delivering or sending them to the person's address for service. This can include a mailing address, email address, or fax number.

You can only serve documents using the information the person provided as their address for service, even if you have other contact information for them.
A document mailed in a Provincial Court case is considered to be served 14 days after the day you mailed it. If you mailed it on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, it's considered to be mailed the next business day.

You can't serve documents by personal service yourself. You must have another adult serve them for you. You can hire a professional process server or ask a friend or relative (who's 19 or older) to serve it for you.

Shop around if you need to hire a professional process server, because prices vary. Make sure they'll provide you with a signed Certificate of Service (Form 7). This certificate is your proof to the court that you had the documents served on the other person.
Updated on 12 May 2021

Make copies

Make two additional copies of all the documents you need to serve, including any attachments.

You’ll need:

Download the Form 7 from the link and print out one copy.

If you're emailing or faxing the documents to the other person, you only need one extra copy of your forms. This is your 'Proof of service' copy.

Updated on 17 May 2021

Serve the documents

By ordinary service

Serve documents by one of these methods:

  • dropping off the document at the person's address for service, 
  • mailing the document by regular mail to the person's address for service, 
  • mailing the document by registered mail to the person's address for service, 
  • emailing the document to the person's email address for service, or 
  • faxing the document to the person's fax number for service.
Don't send or deliver the documents to an address, email address, or fax number that the person hasn't provided as their address for service.
If you're serving documents on the Director of Maintenance Enforcement, mail them to:
Director of Maintenance Enforcement
203 – 865 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC  V6Z 2G3

By personal service

Give the process server (a professional service) or your friend or relative:

  • two copies of all documents and attachments — one to give to the other person and one attached to the Certificate of Service;
  • the other person's address at home and at work;
  • the other person's telephone number (so the process server can call to arrange a time for service); and
  • if the process server doesn't know the person being served, a recent and accurate photograph of them.

If you don't have a photograph, give the process server a written physical description of the other person. Include height, hair colour, eye colour, and any other characteristics that might help the process server identify the other person.

If you're using a friend or relative to give the other person the documents, you or the person serving can email or text the person to arrange a time to meet.

The person serving the documents must:

  • compare the two copies of the documents to make sure they're the same;
  • give one set of copies to the other person;
  • ask the other person for photo ID;
  • record the number of the photo ID provided by the person being served;
  • make a note of the date, time, and place where the documents were served; and
  • complete the Certificate of Service (Form 7) and attach it to the other copy of the documents.

If the person serving the documents knows the person they're serving, they don't have to take a photo with them or ask for ID.

Updated on 17 May 2021

Certificate of Service

For ordinary service

Fill out the Certificate of Service, sign it, and attach it to one copy of your documents.

For personal service

The person who served the documents for you must:

  • complete and sign the Certificate of Service,
  • attach it to the other copy of the documents, and
  • return the certificate and documents to you.
Remember to have the person who served the documents sign the certificate of service.

Keep the signed Certificate of Service with the attached documents in case you need to prove that the documents were properly served.

You've completed all the steps to serve Provincial Court documents on someone in BC.
Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.

Updated on 12 May 2021