Serving Your Complaint

Learn the requirements for “serving” (delivering) your summons and complaint to the party you are suing, including tips on how to serve individuals, how to serve businesses, and what to do if you are unable to serve your summons and complaint.


Overview

After you file your complaint and have the summons issued, a copy of the summons and complaint must be delivered to each defendant. This is called "service of process." It is good practice to serve all defendants immediately after filing the complaint.  After the defendants have been served, proof of that service must be filed with the court.


Q&A – Service Of Process


Who can serve my summons and complaint?

Service of process must be completed by a person who is not a party in the lawsuit and who is over the age of eighteen. Service of process can be performed by the constable, sheriff, or a private process service.

The fee for service is usually about $17.00 plus $2.00 for each mile traveled, but it varies widely so check.

If you use the constable, you will need to provide the constable with four copies of your summons complaint and other documents to be served. If you use the sheriff or a private process service, check to see how many copies they will require.

Click to visit Constables & Sheriffs for contact information.

How do I prove to the court that my summons and complaint was served?

The person who serves your summons and complaint must complete an Affidavit of Service that states when and how your summons and complaint was served. The affidavit must be filed with the court to show that the defendant was properly served.

If you use the constable, sheriff, or a private process server, they will either file the Affidavit of Service with the court or give it to you to file in your case. Proof of service should be filed with the court as soon as possible.

If the court is not satisfied that the defendant was served, your case might not be heard. If service is incorrect for any reason, your case could be dismissed or continued.

If you use the Self-Help Center summons form, that form contains an Affidavit of Service. You can also get an Affidavit of Service, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the form on your computer by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below:

DISTRICT COURT AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE 
Pdf Nonfillable 

JUSTICE COURT AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE 
Pdf Nonfillable

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to file in the district and justice court. Or click to visit District Court or Justice Courts for links and contact information for your court.

How long do I have to serve a defendant?

Your summons and complaint must be served within 120 days after you file the complaint. (NRCP 4(i); JCRCP 4(i).) If you fail to serve the defendants within 120 days, your complaint will be dismissed.

If you will not be able to serve within 120 days, file a motion asking the court to enlarge time for service before your 120 days run. (NRCP 4(i); JCRCP 4(i).) You can file the motion after the 120 days too, but you will need to explain to the court why you failed to file you motion earlier.

A generic motion you can use (just title it “Motion to Enlarge Time for Service”) is available for free at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the form on your computer by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below:

DISTRICT COURT MOTION (GENERIC) 
Pdf Nonfillable 

JUSTICE COURT MOTION (GENERIC) 
Pdf Fillable | Pdf Nonfillable

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for specific information about how to fill out forms and file in the district and justice court. Or click to visit District Court or Justice Courts for links and contact information for your court.

How do I serve an individual?

Each defendant must be personally served with their own copy of your summons and complaint, even if they live at the same address. (And a separate Affidavit of Service must be completed and filed for each defendant served.)

"Personal service" means that the defendant must be handed a copy of your summons and complaint. The only exception to this rule is if the summons and complaint are served at the defendant's home. A process server can leave the summons and complaint at defendant's home address with any suitable adult (someone at least fourteen years old who lives there). However, the summons and complaint must be given to a person and cannot simply be left in the doorway.

You may want to research the Nevada Revised Statutes to determine whether there is any alternative method of service allowed in your type of case. For example:

  • If your case involves damages or loss you suffered as the result of the defendant's use of a motor vehicle in Nevada, you might be able to serve the defendant through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. (NRS 14.070.)
  • If your defendant lives in a guard-gated community, you may be able to serve the defendant by leaving a copy of the summons complaint with the guard. (NRS 14.090.)
  • In an action against a landlord, you may be able to serve your summons and complaint on the property manager or the party who entered into the rental agreement on the landlord's behalf (when there is no other agent designated in the lease). (NRS 118A.260.)

How do I serve a business?

If you are suing a corporation or other business, you generally must serve a person called the "registered agent." All corporations, limited partnerships ("LPs"), and limited liability companies ("LLCs") are required by law to designate an agent to accept service of lawsuits. (NRS 14.020, 78.090.) Corporations must provide the name and address of this agent to the Nevada Secretary of State's office. To find a company's registered agent, click to visit the Nevada Secretary of State Business Entity Search page.

If a business has designated a registered agent, you can serve your lawsuit on the business by arranging to have your summons and complaint delivered to the registered agent. (NRS 14.020, 78.090.) You can have the registered agent served personally or by leaving a copy of the summons and complaint with a person of suitable age and discretion at the registered agent’s address listed on the Secretary of State's website.

TIP! Don't name the registered agent as a defendant in your lawsuit! The registered agent is simply an entity that accepts paperwork on behalf of the business. Think of the registered agent as a mailbox for the business you’re suing.

Sometimes businesses change their registered agent, but do not update their information with the Secretary of State's office. In such a case, you may have several alternatives for service. For instance, a corporation incorporated in Nevada may also be served by personal service on the corporation's president, secretary, cashier, or managing agent. (NRCP 4(d)(1); JCRCP 4(d)(1).) If the corporation is incorporated outside the State of Nevada, a lawsuit may be served on the foreign corporation's managing agent, cashier, or secretary if they are within Nevada. (NRCP 4(d)(1); JCRCP 4(d)(2).)

If a corporation, LP, or LLC has not complied with the requirement to provide an agent who will accept lawsuits, and there is no other person you can serve, you may be able to serve the business by mailing a copy to the Nevada Secretary of State, posting another copy in the office of the court clerk in the court where you filed your suit, and mailing copies of the complaint to any corporate representative located out of state. (NRCP 4(d); JCRCP 4(d); see also NRS 14.030.) However, before you do this, you will need to get permission from the court by submitting an affidavit to the court explaining everything that you did to try to serve the corporation or partnership and why serving the Secretary of State's office is your only viable alternative.

The rules on serving businesses and other entities can be complicated. If you are not sure how to serve your opposing party you can click to visit District Court Rules or Justice Court Rules and study Rule 4 on service. You can also click to visit Nevada Statutes to review Chapter 14 of the Nevada Revised Statues.

TIP! You may want to research whether there’s a Nevada statute that provides some alternate way to serve your particular type of defendant. For example, there are statutes that discuss service on banks (NRS 666A.120, 666A.390), dance studios and health clubs (NRS 598.944), employment agencies (NRS 611.150), real estate brokers and salespersons (NRS 645.495), and the State of Nevada (NRS 41.031).

Generally, a domestic corporation that has gone out of business can be sued up to two years after the corporation dissolves. If you are planning on suing a corporation that has gone out of business, click to visit Nevada Statutes and read NRS 78.585 to make sure you are fulfilling all the requirements.

What if I have been unable to serve the defendant?

If you have made several failed attempts to serve your defendant, you can ask the court for permission to serve the defendant by publication. (NRCP 4(e)(1); JCRCP 4(e)(1).) The court can authorize service by publication if the defendant resides outside Nevada, has departed from Nevada, cannot be found in Nevada (after you have tried), or is trying to avoid being served.

To get the court’s permission to serve by publication, you must file a motion. You will need to demonstrate to the court that you have a valid cause of action against the defendant and that the defendant you are trying to serve is necessary to the case. You will also need to describe all your past attempts to serve the defendant.

The Self-Help Center does not currently have forms to request service by publication. But you might be able to find them at your local law library. Click to visit Law Libraries for location and contact information.