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 Service by the Secretary of State

CHECK STATUS OF SERVICE ON-LINE!

Use our convenient online status check to find the current status of service of process made through the Secretary of State. The county name and case number are required to locate the status information.
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Brief descriptions of service which can be accepted by the Secretary of State are included below. For actual code citations, see WV Code & Rules.


Remember --- the court will decide whether requirements for acceptable service have been met.  It is the responsibility of the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney to file properly and within time limits.  This information is designed to give basic information on filing, not to replace the research and judgment of a plaintiff's attorney.


How Correct Filings are Handled

  1. When a proper request for service is filed, the Secretary of State sends the "Notice" to each defendant by certified mail. At the customer's request, service can be made by certified mail, restricted delivery. Service on a defendant out of the country will be made by registered mail.
  2. For authorized businesses which are registered with our office (such as corporations and other entities required to file with the Secretary of State), a notice of service is forwarded to the clerk of circuit court or magistrate court of the appropriate county at the time of filing.
  3. The following records are maintained on each defendant for each civil action:
    • The date of service
    • If the service was accepted:
      • The date the certified electronic certification was signed (if signed)
      • The name of the person who signed

How Incomplete or Incorrect Filings are Handled

  1. In most cases, we will return the entire filing to the sender when:
    • The filing is incorrect, for example:
      • The filing contains the wrong corporate name
      • No address or an incomplete address is provided
      • It is directed to a defendant which the Secretary of State is not authorized to serve
    • The filing is incomplete
    • The payment is insufficient
  2. Because we are required to process checks before the division receives the work for processing, we often cannot tell that the filing must be rejected before the check is processed.
    • If the filing cannot be accepted because the defendant cannot be served, we will return the filing and order a refund immediately. Refunds may take 20 to 40 days.
    • If the filing needs corrections, we will return the filing but hold the payment for 30 days awaiting the corrected filing. If the filing is not received in 60 days, a refund will be requested.
    • If the payment is insufficient, we will return the filing but hold the partial payment for 60 days awaiting the filing and the balance due. If it is not received by that time, a refund will be requested.
    • If the payment is more than is due, we will complete service, and a refund for the excess will be ordered. Please, do your best to pay the exact amount due -- refunds are expensive & time consuming to process! Refunds may take 20 to 40 days.

Defendants That May Be Served by the Secretary of State


Authorized

Corporations

Limited Liability Companies

Limited Partnerships

Limited Liability Partnerships 

 

West Virginia law appoints the Secretary of State as attorney-in-fact for several types of businesses.  Included are those which are required to file organizational documents with the Secretary of State to establish their authority to do business in the state.

When a corporation or other business files its organizing documents, and annually every year after, it is required to provide the name and address of an agent of process -- a person who has authority to accept service on behalf of the company.  The agent is sometimes directly connected with the business entity (such as an officer or director), or it may be the legal counsel, a corporate service company, or other person.

When an agent name has been filed, service must be directed to the agent at the address currently listed with the Secretary of State.

If an agent name has not been filed, service must be directed to the principal office at the address currently listed with the Secretary of State.

 
     

Unauthorized

Foreign Corporations
&
Foreign
Limited Partnerships

  Some companies organized outside this state are not registered with the West Virginia Secretary of State but can still be served.  The person filing the suit is responsible for obtaining the correct out-of-state address of the company's principal office.  Attach a Request for Service Form specifying the code authority for service through this office.
     
Unincorporated Nonprofit Associations    This special type of association was authorized in 1995 providing limited liability to the association members.  The Secretary of State accepts service on these associations only if an agent has been named and filed here. 
     
Licensed
Insurance Companies 
  The Secretary of State accepts service on insurance companies which are licensed by the Insurance Commissioner of West Virginia.  The insurance company's exact name and the address of the principal office plus the agent of process must be included in the complaint. 
     
Unlicensed/ Unauthorized Insurance Companies    When an insurance company is not licensed in West Virginia, the person filing the suit is responsible for obtaining the correct out-of-state address of the company's principal office.  Attach a Request for Service Form specifying the code authority for service through this office. 
     
Nonresident Charitable Organizations, Professional Solicitors, Professional
Fund- Raising Counsel 
  Those charities, their fund-raising counsel and professional solicitors which solicit contributions from people in West Virginia but are organized out-of-state or have their principal office outside West Virginia may be served through the Secretary of State.  Be sure to attach the Request for Service Form specifying this basis for service.
 
     
Nonresidents Under the WV Consumer Credit and Protection Act    When a consumer credit sale or consumer lease subject to the provisions of the Consumer Credit and Protection Act results in an instrument or contract being held by a nonresident, that person may be served through the Secretary of State.  The complaint must include the name and address of the nonresident.  Attach a Request for Service Form specifying the code authority for service through this office. 
     
State Agencies    State agencies are treated as domestic public corporations under R.C.P. 4(d)(6)(D), and may be served through the Secretary of State.  However, state officers who are individually named as defendants must be served personally. 
     
Nonresident Motor Vehicle Operator Involved in Accident in WV    Service on an out-of-state driver relating to an accident in West Virginia can be made through the Secretary of State, providing the complaint includes the name and out-of-state address of the person being served, and a Request for Service Form specifying the code authority for service through this office. 
     
Nonresidents Served Under the Long-Arm Statute    West Virginia law provides specific grounds for serving out-of-state individuals through the Secretary of State. Providing the complaint includes the name and out-of-state address of the person being served, complaints are served on persons who are:
* Transacting business in West Virginia;
* Contracting to supply services or things in this State;
* Causing tortious injury in this state by act or omission
(Including non-support of minor children, as provided under Losinski v. Losinski);
* Causing injury in this State by breach of warranty;
* Having interest in, using or possessing real property in West Virginia;
* Contracting to insure persons, property or risk located in West Virginia at the time of contracting.
Submit a Request for Service Form specifying the code authority for service through this office. 
     
Nonresident Trustee of Security Trust    Although the law requires trustees of security trusts to be residents, or if the trustee is a corporation, have its principal office in West Virginia, the law still allows service against a non-resident trustee through the Secretary of State should such a person or corporation have been named.  The name and address must be provided, and the request for service form should be checked and attached. 
     
Suggestee Executions    When the wages of an individual have been garnished by order of a West Virginia court, and the employer is authorized to be served by the Secretary of State in other matters, the order is served by certified mail through the Secretary of State.  Wages are paid to the party named in the order or the clerk of the court -- not to the Secretary of State. 

Did you find the type of defendant you want to serve?

If not, go to Other Types of Service for information on serving individuals, sole proprietorships, partnerships and others.

 
Service">Other Types of Service for information on serving individuals, sole proprietorships, partnerships and others.