Serving Summons, Subpoenas and Documents

Serving Documents

Service of process, the delivery of legal documents such as a summons, complaint, subpoena, an order to show cause, writs, or notice to quit the premises, is required before legal action may proceed in court. There are two types of service of process: enforceable and non-enforceable.

Florida State Statute requires the local sheriff’s office to serve all enforceable civil process. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will serve the following process within Hillsborough County:

• State Witness Subpoenas – issued by the State Attorney’s Office or Public Defender’s Office
• Writ of Garnishment from government entities only
• Writ of Replevin
• Writ of Possession
• Levy / Judgments
• Child Custody Pick-Up orders
• Injunctions for protection against repeat violence
• Baker Act & Marchman Orders issued by the Court
• Any other process issued by a government entity

Fees for service of process by the sheriff are fixed by FSS 30.231 and are non-refundable. If you have questions about costs and how long it takes the sheriff's office to serve process, please contact them at (813) 242-5220 or check their website for more information.

If you are a private citizen or an attorney and are in need of having a non-enforceable civil summons/subpoena served, you will need to contact a Private Process Server.

Private process service is the delivery of legal court documents to a specific individual or business (the defendant). The petitioner (plaintiff) initiates the action and works with a lawyer or the court to obtain the proper documents to be served. A Private Process Server then serves the documents on the defendant. Routine service costs can range from $20 up to $100, depending on the company you contract with. 

Hillsborough County Sheriff Process Service Inquiry

Hillsborough County Sheriff Process Section

List of Hillsborough County Private Process Servers (provided by the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court) 

Subpoena issued pursuant to UIDDA (foreign subpoena)

How can I serve someone if I don't have their current address?

If you need to serve a summons, subpoena or papers to a person, and you do not know what their current address is, you might try these:

• If you know the person's place of employment, have them served there.

• A private process server may have the resources to locate the person's current whereabouts.

• Check the Property Appraiser's website to see if they own any property, then serve them at that address.

Can I serve a summons, subpoena or legal documents myself?

No, you cannot serve a summons, subpoena or other legal document yourself, unless you are a certified private process server or a Hillsborough County Deputy Sheriff. Also, if you are a party to the case, regardless of your qualifications, you cannot serve the papers.

Service outside of Hillsborough County or the State of Florida?

If you need to serve civil process to a defendant who is outside of Hillsborough County or outside of the State of Florida, you will need to contact a civil process server or the sheriff for that county to perform the service. You might try a search on the internet for "process server" and the state or county that the defendant is in to get a list. 

How do I become a Civil Process Server?

You can get more information about the application process for civil process servers here.

How do I pay my Certified Process Server application or renewal fee?

Certified Process Server application and renewal payments can be made at the Clerk's downtown Tampa (800 E Twiggs Street) location in the Customer Service Center, Room 101. Payments can also be mailed to PO Box 3360, Tampa FL 33601. The Clerk accepts payment in the form of major credit cards, checks or money orders made payable to the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court.

Information about certified process server classes, the application form, renewals and fees to be paid can be found on the 13th Judicial Circuit Court's website.