Service of Process
About Legal Process Service
West Virginia Code and the West Virginia Supreme Court Rules of Civil Procedure assign the duty of service of process on specific businesses, persons and other entities to the Secretary of State. All service made by the Secretary of State is made by certified or registered mail. See the summary below for an overview of the information and services available from our Legal Process section.
NOTICE TO USERS OF THIS SECTION
This section provides concise information about serving legal process on a defendant, especially through the Secretary of State. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney to decide how to file, prepare the filing correctly, and file in a timely manner. Only the courts can finally determine whether service is valid. The Secretary of State will not accept filings which are clearly incomplete or improper, but acceptance of a filing for service is no guarantee that the courts will find service valid.
Who Can Be Served by the Secretary of State?
The West Virginia Secretary of State is appointed by law to serve legal process by certified mail on certain defendants. These defendants include a variety of business types, insurance companies, out-of-state individuals who can be served under the long-arm statute, state government agencies, and some special categories. Employers of individuals whose wages are being garnished through suggestee execution are also served. See Service by the SOS for more information on which defendants can be served.
How Are Other Defendants Served?
Many defendants cannot be served through the Secretary of State. Individual residents of West Virginia, businesses which are sole proprietorships or partnerships, county and municipal governments and local agencies, and some other categories are served personally, often through the county sheriff. See Other Types of Service for more information on alternative service.
How Are Filings Made?
Correct filing is vital to prompt service of process. For information about filing procedures, forms, fees and payment methods, our mailing address, and other information, see Filing Procedures.
What Law and Rules Apply?
To review the text of the West Virginia Code and the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure that apply to service of process through the Secretary of State, see WV Code & Rules
How Can I Contact the SOS Process Section and Court Officials?
For a roster containing the names and addresses of clerks of federal, state, circuit and magistrate clerks, and the telephone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses where available, see Contacts & Courts.
How Can I Check the Status of Process Service?
To check to status of service, please go to Status Check.
Important Reminder When Submitting Service of Process!
- When submitting any Service of Process documents, summonses/complaints, notice to redeem, etc., please make sure that you submit one original of the process, notice, or demand and two copies of the process, notice or demand for each defendant.
- Because of the magnitude of the amount of mail we receive and trying to keep operating costs to a minimum, our office cannot make the additional copies.
- We also have been receiving copies that are not clear enough to read or scan. Therefore, if our office does not receive the one original and two copies, or if the copies are not readable then the documents will be returned to you to be resubmitted properly, which may cause a delay in service.
- Please note that the only exception to the above is with regard to a class action suit in which all defendants are to be served with the same process, notice or demand, service may be made by filing with the Secretary of State the originial process, notice or demand and one copy for each named defendant.