About Service of Process

Foreign Corporations

A foreign corporation, except an insurance company, may be served pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 156D, s. 15.10. 

M.G.L. Chapter 156D, s. 15.10 requires a sheriff or other authorized process server to serve the corporation’s resident agent.  If the resident agent cannot be found or the corporation is not registered with the Corporations Division, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall serve as agent for service of process.

A sheriff or other authorized process server must deliver to the Corporations Division two (2) copies of the following:

  • Summons;
  • Complaint;
  • A sheriff’s diligent search certificate, if applicable; and
  • A check payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of ten dollars ($10.00).

The Corporations Division will notify the foreign corporation by regular mail at its last known principal office.  If the foreign corporation is not registered with the Corporations Division, the notice shall be mailed to the proper address of the corporation, furnished by the plaintiff or his attorney (M.G.L. Chapter 156D, s. 15.10).

Foreign Limited Liability Companies

In an action against a foreign limited liability company, you must first attempt service directly on the business address of the corporation’s resident agent in Massachusetts, pursuant to the Massachusetts Limited Liability Company Act.

M.G.L. Chapter 156C, s. 54 provides that when an officer authorized to conduct legal process conducts a diligent but unsuccessful search for the resident agent or when a certified resident agent refuses to act as such, final service may be attempted through the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

An authorized process server must deliver to the Corporations Division two (2) copies of the following:

  • Summons;
  • Complaint;
  • A sheriff’s diligent search certificate, if applicable; and
  • A check payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of ten dollars ($10.00).

The Corporations Division will notify the foreign limited liability company by regular mail at its last known principal office.  If the foreign limited liability company was established in a foreign country, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will forward the process to the resident manager in the United States. If the foreign limited liability company is not registered with the Corporations Division, the notice shall be mailed to the proper address of the corporation, furnished by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney (M.G.L. Chapter 156C, s. 54).

Foreign Individuals, Foreign Members of
Partnerships and Foreign Limited Partnerships

In an action against foreign individuals or foreign members of a partnership who are doing business in Massachusetts, you must first attempt service directly on the agent who is appointed to accept process on behalf of the defendants, pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 227, s. 5.  If the individual or members of a partnership have not appointed an agent on whom process can be served, final service may be made through the Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

The party seeking service of process shall deliver to the Corporations Division two (2) copies of the following:

  • Summons;
  • Complaint;
  • A sheriff’s diligent search certificate; and
  • A check payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of ten dollars ($10.00).

The Corporations Division will serve process by registered mail to the defendant’s last known address, which shall be furnished by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney.  The Division will then forward to the court either the certified receipt or the returned letter and an affidavit of compliance stating that service was made (M.G.L. Chapter 227, s. 5).

Foreign limited partnerships doing business in the commonwealth without having registered and foreign limited partnerships that have withdrawn from the commonwealth are considered to have appointed the Secretary of the Commonwealth as their agent upon whom all process in the state may be served (M.G.L. Chapter 109 s. 55). Process must be served in a manner consistent with process served on foreign corporations and pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 156D, s. 15.10.