Convention on the Service Abroad of
Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial
Matters - The Hague Convention
(Concluded November 15, 1965)
The States signatory to the present Convention,
Desiring to create appropriate means to ensure
that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be
served abroad shall be brought to the notice of the addressee in
Desiring to improve the organisation of mutual
judicial assistance for that purpose by simplifying
and expediting the procedure,
Have resolved to conclude a Convention to this
effect and have agreed upon the following
The present Convention shall apply in all cases,
in civil or commercial matters, where there is
occasion to transmit a judicial or extrajudicial document for
This Convention shall not apply where the
address of the person to be served with the document
is not known.
CHAPTER I - JUDICIAL DOCUMENTS
Each Contracting State shall designate a Central
Authority which will undertake to receive
requests for service coming from other Contracting States and to
proceed in conformity with the
provisions of Articles 3 to 6.
Each State shall organise the Central Authority
in conformity with its own law.
The authority or judicial officer competent
under the law of the State in which the documents
originate shall forward to the Central Authority of the State
addressed a request conforming to the
model annexed to the present Convention, without any requirement
of legalisation or other
The document to be served or a copy thereof
shall be annexed to the request. The request and
the document shall both be furnished in duplicate.
If the Central Authority considers that the
request does not comply with the provisions of the
present Convention it shall promptly inform the applicant and
specify its objections to the request.
The Central Authority of the State addressed
shall itself serve the document or shall arrange to
have it served by an appropriate agency, either -
a) by a method prescribed by its internal law
for the service of documents in domestic actions
upon persons who are within its territory, or
b) by a particular method requested by the
applicant, unless such a method is incompatible with
the law of the State addressed.
Subject to sub-paragraph (b) of the first
paragraph of this Article, the document may always be
served by delivery to an addressee who accepts it voluntarily.
If the document is to be served under the first
paragraph above, the Central Authority may require
the document to be written in, or translated into, the official
language or one of the official
languages of the State addressed.
That part of the request, in the form attached
to the present Convention, which contains a
summary of the document to be served, shall be served with the
The Central Authority of the State addressed or
any authority which it may have designated for
that purpose, shall complete a certificate in the form of the
model annexed to the present
The certificate shall state that the document
has been served and shall include the method, the
place and the date of service and the person to whom the
document was delivered. If the
document has not been served, the certificate shall set out the
reasons which have prevented
The applicant may require that a certificate not
completed by a Central Authority or by a judicial
authority shall be countersigned by one of these authorities.
The certificate shall be forwarded directly to
The standard terms in the model annexed to the
present Convention shall in all cases be written
either in French or in English. They may also be written in the
official language, or in one of the
official languages, of the State in which the documents
The corresponding blanks shall be completed
either in the language of the State addressed or in
French or in English.
Each Contracting State shall be free to effect
service of judicial documents upon persons abroad,
without application of any compulsion, directly through its
diplomatic or consular agents.
Any State may declare that it is opposed to such
service within its territory, unless the document is
to be served upon a national of the State in which the documents
Each Contracting State shall be free, in
addition, to use consular channels to forward documents,
for the purpose of service, to those authorities of another
Contracting State which are designated
by the latter for this purpose.
Each Contracting State may, if exceptional
circumstances so require, use diplomatic channels for
the same purpose.
Provided the State of destination does not
object, the present Convention shall not interfere with -
a) the freedom to send judicial documents, by
postal channels, directly to persons abroad,
b) the freedom of judicial officers, officials
or other competent persons of the State of origin to
effect service of judicial documents directly through the
judicial officers, officials or other
competent persons of the State of destination,
c) the freedom of any person interested in a
judicial proceeding to effect service of judicial
documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or
other competent persons of the State
The present Convention shall not prevent two or
more Contracting States from agreeing to permit,
for the purpose of service of judicial documents, channels of
transmission other than those
provided for in the preceding Articles and, in particular,
direct communication between their
The service of judicial documents coming from a
Contracting State shall not give rise to any
payment or reimbursement of taxes or costs for the services
rendered by the State addressed.
The applicant shall pay or reimburse the costs
occasioned by -
a) the employment of a judicial officer or of a
person competent under the law of the State of
b) the use of a particular method of service.
Where a request for service complies with the
terms of the present Convention, the State
addressed may refuse to comply therewith only if it deems that
compliance would infringe its
sovereignty or security.
It may not refuse to comply solely on the ground
that, under its internal law, it claims exclusive
jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the action or that its
internal law would not permit the action
upon which the application is based.
The Central Authority shall, in case of refusal,
promptly inform the applicant and state the reasons
for the refusal.
Difficulties which may arise in connection with
the transmission of judicial documents for service
shall be settled through diplomatic channels.
Where a writ of summons or an equivalent
document had to be transmitted abroad for the
purpose of service, under the provisions of the present
Convention, and the defendant has not
appeared, judgment shall not be given until it is established
a) the document was served by a method
prescribed by the internal law of the State addressed
for the service of documents in domestic actions upon persons
who are within its territory, or
b) the document was actually delivered to the
defendant or to his residence by another method
provided for by this Convention,
and that in either of these cases the service or
the delivery was effected in sufficient time to enable
the defendant to defend.
Each Contracting State shall be free to declare
that the judge, notwithstanding the provisions of
the first paragraph of this Article, may give judgment even if
no certificate of service or delivery
has been received, if all the following conditions are fulfilled
a) the document was transmitted by one of the
methods provided for in this Convention,
b) a period of time of not less than six months,
considered adequate by the judge in the particular
case, has elapsed since the date of the transmission of the
c) no certificate of any kind has been received,
even though every reasonable effort has been
made to obtain it through the competent authorities of the State
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding
paragraphs the judge may order, in case of
urgency, any provisional or protective measures.
When a writ of summons or an equivalent document
had to be transmitted abroad for the purpose
of service, under the provisions of the present Convention, and
a judgment has been entered
against a defendant who has not appeared, the judge shall have
the power to relieve the defendant
from the effects of the expiration of the time for appeal from
the judgment if the following
conditions are fulfilled -
a) the defendant, without any fault on his part,
did not have knowledge of the document in
sufficient time to defend, or knowledge of the judgment in
sufficient time to appeal, and
b) the defendant has disclosed a prima facie
defence to the action on the merits.
An application for relief may be filed only
within a reasonable time after the defendant has
knowledge of the judgment.
Each Contracting State may declare that the
application will not be entertained if it is filed after the
expiration of a time to be stated in the declaration, but which
shall in no case be less than one year
following the date of the judgment.
This Article shall not apply to judgments
concerning status or capacity of persons.
CHAPTER II - EXTRAJUDICIAL DOCUMENTS
Extrajudicial documents emanating from
authorities and judicial officers of a Contracting State
may be transmitted for the purpose of service in another
Contracting State by the methods and
under the provisions of the present Convention.
CHAPTER III - GENERAL CLAUSES
Each Contracting State may designate other
authorities in addition to the Central Authority and
shall determine the extent of their competence.
The applicant shall, however, in all cases, have
the right to address a request directly to the
Federal States shall be free to designate more
than one Central Authority.
To the extent that the internal law of a
Contracting State permits methods of transmission, other
than those provided for in the preceding Articles, of documents
coming from abroad, for service
within its territory, the present Convention shall not affect
The present Convention shall not prevent an
agreement between any two or more Contracting
States to dispense with -
a) the necessity for duplicate copies of
transmitted documents as required by the second
paragraph of Article 3,
b) the language requirements of the third
paragraph of Article 5 and Article 7,
c) the provisions of the fourth paragraph of
d) the provisions of the second paragraph of
Each Contracting State shall, at the time of the
deposit of its instrument of ratification or accession,
or at a later date, inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
the Netherlands of the following -
a) the designation of authorities, pursuant to
Articles 2 and 18,
b) the designation of the authority competent to
complete the certificate pursuant to Article 6,
c) the designation of the authority competent to
receive documents transmitted by consular
channels, pursuant to Article 9.
Each Contracting State shall similarly inform
the Ministry, where appropriate, of -
a) opposition to the use of methods of
transmission pursuant to Articles 8 and 10,
b) declarations pursuant to the second paragraph
of Article 15 and the third paragraph of Article
c) all modifications of the above designations,
oppositions and declarations.
Where Parties to the present Convention are also
Parties to one or both of the Conventions on
civil procedure signed at The Hague on 17th July 1905, and on
1st March 1954, this Convention
shall replace as between them Articles 1 to 7 of the earlier
The present Convention shall not affect the
application of Article 23 of the Convention on civil
procedure signed at The Hague on 17th July 1905, or of Article
24 of the Convention on civil
procedure signed at The Hague on 1st March 1954.
These Articles shall, however, apply only if
methods of communication, identical to those
provided for in these Conventions, are used.
Supplementary agreements between Parties to the
Conventions of 1905 and 1954 shall be
considered as equally applicable to the present Convention,
unless the Parties have otherwise
Without prejudice to the provisions of Articles
22 and 24, the present Convention shall not
derogate from Conventions containing provisions on the matters
governed by this Convention to
which the Contracting States are, or shall become, Parties.
The present Convention shall be open for
signature by the States represented at the Tenth Session
of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
It shall be ratified, and the instruments of
ratification shall be deposited with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The present Convention shall enter into force on
the sixtieth day after the deposit of the third
instrument of ratification referred to in the second paragraph
of Article 26.
The Convention shall enter into force for each
signatory State which ratifies subsequently on the
sixtieth day after the deposit of its instrument of
Any State not represented at the Tenth Session
of the Hague Conference on Private International
Law may accede to the present Convention after it has entered
into force in accordance with the
first paragraph of Article 27. The instrument of accession shall
be deposited with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The Convention shall enter into force for such a
State in the absence of any objection from a
State, which has ratified the Convention before such deposit,
notified to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of the Netherlands within a period of six months after
the date on which the said Ministry
has notified it of such accession.
In the absence of any such objection, the
Convention shall enter into force for the acceding State
on the first day of the month following the expiration of the
last of the periods referred to in the
Any State may, at the time of signature,
ratification or accession, declare that the present
Convention shall extend to all the territories for the
international relations of which it is responsible,
or to one or more of them. Such a declaration shall take effect
on the date of entry into force of
the Convention for the State concerned.
At any time thereafter, such extensions shall be
notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
The Convention shall enter into force for the
territories mentioned in such an extension on the
sixtieth day after the notification referred to in the preceding
The present Convention shall remain in force for
five years from the date of its entry into force in
accordance with the first paragraph of Article 27, even for
States which have ratified it or
acceded to it subsequently.
If there has been no denunciation, it shall be
renewed tacitly every five years.
Any denunciation shall be notified to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands at least six
months before the end of the five year period.
It may be limited to certain of the territories
to which the Convention applies.
The denunciation shall have effect only as
regards the State which has notified it. The Convention
shall remain in force for the other Contracting States.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Netherlands shall give notice to the States referred to in
Article 26, and to the States which have acceded in accordance
with Article 28, of the following -
a) the signatures and ratifications referred to
in Article 26;
b) the date on which the present Convention
enters into force in accordance with the first
paragraph of Article 27;
c) the accessions referred to in Article 28 and
the dates on which they take effect;
d) the extensions referred to in Article 29 and
the dates on which they take effect;
e) the designations, oppositions and
declarations referred to in Article 21;
f) the denunciations referred to in the third
paragraph of Article 30.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly
authorised thereto, have signed the present
Done at The Hague, on the 15th day of November,
1965, in the English and French languages, both texts being
equally authentic, in a single copy which shall be deposited in
the archives of the Government of the Netherlands, and of which
a certified copy shall be sent, through the diplomatic channel,
to each of the States represented at the Tenth Session of the
Hague Conference on Private International Law.
Hague Service Convention & India
India is now a signatory to the Hague
Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial documents in
Civil and Commercial Matters. India acceded to the Hague Service
Convention in late 2006 and the treaty is enforced in India
from August 1, 2007.
See also FAQ on
Process Serving in India |
Process Serving in India -
Hague Convention on Service Abroad & USA
In a landmark decision handed down in 1988, the
US Supreme Court declared that the Hague Convention on the
Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil
or Commercial Matters (the “Hague Service Convention”) is
the mandatory and exclusive means of effecting service of
process upon international defendants. Volkswagen AG v.
Schlunk, 486 US 694, 108 S. Ct. 2104, 100 L. Ed. 722
The Hague Convention provides several methods by
which litigants may effect service, provided the destination
country has not objected to those methods. These methods
include service via the Hague Central Authority, via mail, or
via private judicial officer.
The Hague Central Authority is often an office
located within the Ministry of Justice or within a Supreme Court
or High Court, the Central Authority receives Hague Service
Requests for service of process upon defendants located in its
jurisdiction, vets the requests for compliance with the terms of
the treaty, and then forwards the requests on to a court having
jurisdiction over the defendant.
Formal Service of Process or Documents in India from
the Courts of Foreign Countries who are signatory to the Hague Convention:
India is now a signatory to the Hague Convention on
the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial documents in Civil and
Commercial Matters. Therefore, the formal method for service in
India with effect from August 1, 2007 is pursuant to the Hague Convention
and declaration or special conditions mentioned by India in while signing
the Hague Convention.
All the requirements of the Hague Convention
must be met while serving the documents, summons / subpoena in all Civil
matters, including Matrimonial, Divorce, Custody, family law and others;
Commercial & Corporate Matters.
In addition, all the requirements under the declarations to the Hague Service Convention made by India
should be met, including but not limited to the following conditions:
Documents for service must be written in the English language. This is a
good news for USA litigants who do not have to bear the costs of
Documents can not be served via mail.
Documents must be served indirectly are per the requirements of the
Documents can not be served directly to the defendants in India.
See also FAQ on
Process Serving in India |
Process Serving in India -
here to Contact us for Serving Documents in India under the Hague Convention
here to Contact us for Personal Service in India