Written by attorney Rixon Charles Rafter III

Service of Process In Virginia

Service of Process

Can be waived-depends on in state or out of state (the time limits)

To serve process there are three methods, in descending order of preferred priority:

For Service on a Virginia resident-

  1. must personally serve

  2. Next would e substituted service (to a family member)

  3. Finally, posted at front door of home.

For Service on a Non Resident

  1. The Sec of Commonwealth mails, and certifies to court that he mailed it. Service is deemed complete when court receives notice of mailing (not valid for domestic relations cases)

For service on a Corporation- serve the registered agent or the Secretary of the State Corporation Commission.

For Service on a Foreign Corp- any officer or director if there is no registered agent or serve the clerk of the State Corporation Commission.

Partnership- any general partner

Non Resident Motorist Act

  1. In General District Court (GDC)- summons is a called ‘Warrant’
  2. In Circuit Court it is called a ‘Summons’
  3. Service is made within 12 months of filing. If the sheriff is not used, there must be an affidavit of service filed.
  4. Filing the suit tolls statute of limitations.
  5. Plaintiff may request Defendant waive service.
  6. If Defendant is instate as a witness he is not immune from service.
  7. Service under Long Arm Statute—Plaintiff must file an affidavit that
    1. Defendant is a non-resident, Plaintiff used due diligence trying to find Defendant’s last known address
    2. Sec of Commonwealth files certificate of mailing.

Types of Service in Detail


a. Must be tried and unavailable before proceeding to substituted or posted service


a. Served at Defendants usual place of abode

b. Member of Defendants family (16+year old or older)

c. Must tell the party of the purpose and content


a. Post on main entry way front door

b. Ten days before default- mail process to Defendant and certify to clerk

c. Circuit Court mail copy of pleading to Defendant showing that upon default, judgment may be sought.

  1. Curing Statute- There is a Virginia statute that cures minor technical defects in service.

  2. The Return

a. Must state reason for failing to serve personally. If served by officer, prima facie evidence of truth.

b. Filed within 72 hours of serving process--

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