Become an Arizona Process Server
A process server in Arizona is someone who is certified by the State to deliver legal papers to those involved in some type of lawsuit. As a process server, you physically hand (a.k.a., serve) the paperwork on the recipient. Types of legal paperwork that can be served include a summons, subpoena, court order, or complaint. Every state has its own certification program for legal processing. In Arizona you will be required to complete an application, pass an exam, get your fingerprints taken, and maintain your license.
Completing the Process Server Certification Application
- Visit the Arizona Courts website. The Arizona Judicial Branch regulates the private process server profession. In order to be certified as a process server, you need to comply with the requirements laid out by the judicial branch. To start, visit the Arizona Courts website.
From there, find the link at the top of the website titled "licensing & regulation". When you hover your mouse above that link, a drop down menu will appear. Click on the link titled "private process server".
- This website will contain all the information you need to complete the certification process.
- Scroll down and find the application link. Within the private process server webpage there will be a link to the initial certification application. It is located about half way down the page. When you find the link, click it. A PDF copy of the application will appear on your computer screen.
- Fill out the application. The application must be filled out using black ink or it must be typed. If you can fill the application out on your computer and then print it, do that. This way you ensure your information is legible. However, if you need to, you can print out the application and fill it out by hand. The private process server application will require you to provide the following information:
- Your information. This will include your name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, social security number, whether you are a U.S. citizen, and whether you have a high school diploma or GED.
- Your work experience. This will include employment information going back five years. You will need to provide every employer's name, address, contact information, and your reason for leaving.
- Your background information. This section requires you to answer a series of questions about your criminal history and history of other transgressions. For example, the application will ask if you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor. In addition, the application will ask whether you have ever been fired from a job.
- Other general information. This section asks whether you have ever been a process server before, whether you have ever taken the process server test before, and whether you have any county, state, or federal licenses.
- Provide the required attachments. Depending on how you answer some of the application questions you may be required to attach one or more documents to your application. If you stated that you have received your high school diploma or GED for example, you will need to attach a copy of your transcripts. If you do not have enough room to fill out your work history, you will need to attach the information to the back of your application. Also, if you answer "yes" to any of the background questions, you will need to provide a detailed description of the actions that led to you having to answer "yes".
- Make copies of acceptable identification documents. Your private process server application must be accompanied by copies of certain identification documents, which can be chosen from a list located in the application. You must provide one document from List A or one document from List B and List C.
- The documents in List A establish both your identification and your employment eligibility (e.g., passport, Certificate of U.S. Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization).
- The documents in List B establish your identity only (e.g., driver license, school ID card, voter registration card, or Native American tribal documents).
- The documents in List C establish your employment eligibility only (e.g., Social Security card or birth certificate).
- Sign the form in front of a notary public. In order to be processed, your application must be signed in front of a notary public. Notaries can usually be found in law offices or banks. While some notaries will charge a small fee for their services, most will help you for free. Do not sign your application until you are in the presence of a notary who will also sign your application.
- When you sign your application, you are allowing Arizona to conduct a background investigation of you to determine your moral character and fitness. You are also allowing everyone contacted to release your information to the State.
- Submit the application and pay the application fee. When your application is complete, submit it to the Clerk of the Superior Court in your county. You will have to include an attention line to ensure your application gets to the Private Process Server Certification Department. To submit your application, you can either mail it or physically take it to courthouse.
- When you submit your application you will have to pay an application fee. While the fee may vary from county to county, it will include both the fee for processing the application and a fee for the background check. For example, the fee in Pinal County is $196 ($174 for the application and $22 for the background check).
Passing the Private Process Server Certification Examination
- Schedule a time to take the test. Once you submit your application you will be able to schedule your process server certification examination. To schedule a time to take the test, contact your county's process server coordinator. Each county will have a different phone number, address, or email address where this person can be reached. Look online for more information. In some counties, for example Pinal County, you will have to speak to a clerk in person and you will not be able to leave a message.
- Most counties will have limited times when tests can be taken. In addition, space is usually limited. For example, in Pinal County, testing is only held on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On those two days, only three total testing times are offered.
- In Maricopa County, only 18 people can take the test at once.
- Study for the test. The certification exam tests your knowledge of Arizona laws pertaining to service of process. Arizona recommends you talk with a lawyer or spend time in a law library in order to get the most updated information on the law. Most counties will provide you with a list of statutes, regulations, court cases, and other authorities that will be helpful to know. For example, the Arizona Courts website offers a good list of Arizona statutes, rules of court, rules of civil procedure, local court rules, and court cases.
- In Maricopa County, you can purchase a study guide for a fee of $7.60.
- Use this list to obtain copies of the helpful information. Once you have all the materials you need, read through them and make sure you understand them for the test.
- Complete the test. On the day of the test, arrive early. If you arrive late, or even on time, the test administrators may not let you in. The test will consist of questions about being a process server and you will usually have around 90 minutes to complete the test. Do not stress out and answer each question to the best of your ability. Make sure you listen to, or read, any directions given to you about the test.
- Await your score. Once the test is done, you will have to wait for it to be graded. In a lot of counties, you will use this time to get your fingerprints taken care of. For example, in Pinal County, your test will be graded while you are getting fingerprinted at the sheriff's office. When you return from getting fingerprinted, your test results should be available. While passing scores may vary, you will usually need to get around 85% of the questions right in order to pass. You will receive a letter informing you of your score and any missed questions.
Submitting a Fingerprint Card
- Pick up a fingerprint card from your county sheriff's office. In order to be certified as a private process server in Arizona, you will need to get your fingerprints taken and provide them with your finished application. Each county will have different rules about when and how the fingerprinting should be completed. In general, your fingerprints will be taken after your testing is complete. To get your fingerprints taken, you will need to obtain an authorized fingerprint card. These cards are found in-person by visiting the sheriff's office.
- Pay the required fee to have your fingerprints taken. When you arrive at the sheriff's office and obtain a fingerprint card, you will have to pay a fee to have your fingerprints taken. In Pinal County, for example, the fee is $5.00.
- Have your fingerprints taken. Once you pay your fee, someone from the sheriff's office will take your official fingerprints and place them on your fingerprint card. Each county will have different methods of taking your fingerprints. While some may still use ink, most counties will have a machine that will take your fingerprints. Follow the sheriff's office instructions to make sure you get the most accurate and complete fingerprints possible.
- Turn your fingerprint card in. Once your fingerprints have been taken, you need to take your completed fingerprint card back to the superior court to have it filed with the rest of your application. Your application is not complete and will not be reviewed until your fingerprint card is submitted.
Maintaining Your Certification
- Obtain your initial provisional license. Once your application is complete and you have passed the test, your application will need to be reviewed by a superior court judge. The initial review process will take one to two weeks. If a judge approves your provisional license, a provisional card will be mailed to you.
- Once you have your provisional license, you will have Become a Process Server. From there you will be able to establish yourself and start a business.
- However, your provisional card is only valid until your full application has been reviewed and signed off on.
- Pick up your license card. After you receive your provisional card, the superior court will continue processing your case. Once the judge receives all of your information, he or she will make a determination regarding whether to issue a full three year license. If the judge accepts your application and signs off on it, the clerk of courts will contact you and inform you that you can pick up your license card.
- When you pick up your three year license card you will be required to return your provisional card.
- Complete annual continuing education requirements. As a certified private process server, you will be required to maintain and expand your knowledge by completing at least 10 hours of continuing education every year. You can find approved continuing education courses on the Arizona Courts website.
- These courses cost a small amount of money.
- When you complete a course, you will receive a certificate indicating that you did so successfully.
- Each year you will have to submit documentation to the state proving that you have completed the required hours. You can find an approved form on the Arizona Courts website.
- Submit your renewal application every three years. Every three years you will have to renew your process server license by submitting a renewal application. The renewal application is the exact same application as the initial application, except you will not be required to submit your employment information again. The renewal application can be found on the Arizona Courts website.
- When you submit your completed application you will have to pay an application fee. This fee will vary from county to county.
- Once licensed, consider joining the Arizona Process Servers Association (APSA). As a member, you will gain access to great training materials, events, and process server news.