In civil court matters, a process server is an individual who serves or delivers legal documents such as subpoenas, summonses, legal notices, court orders, and sometimes writs.
Process servers typically fall into one of four categories.
The first category consists of registered or licensed process servers. In most states, process servers are registered by the county in which they serve. In some states, like California, a process server who is registered in one county may serve papers in any other county in the state. In other states, a process server can only serve papers in the county where he or she is registered. Most, but not all, counties require the process server to be bonded or insured.
The second category involves private investigators and detectives. Most states require that private detectives and investigators be licensed by the state. They are exempt from registering as process servers. They and anyone they employ are allowed to serve legal process, and when serving are considered officers of the court.