You may be asking why you would even consider registering as a process server to begin with.
I find it quite fun, exciting, adventurous and satisfying to serve papers. I always have. It’s not that I enjoy delivering (usually) bad news to people, because part of the job is delivering bad news to people. I enjoy the challenge of making contact with the person and serving them, politely and professionally.
I enjoy making a client’s day by serving important papers to their defendant who may be trying to evade service. Sometimes I am asked questions about the court process or what the papers mean and can be of some assistance to the person I served by providing information, leaving the situation having had a positive interaction with someone, which in itself is satisfying.
As if that weren’t enough to light your fire, there is also money to be made serving papers! Depending on your skills, your marketing, your reach, your networking abilities, drive, etc., there is potentially very much money to be made serving papers. Start out serving some papers on the side from your day job for the happy hour fund and you will find as you learn and get more calls and jobs that you can control the flow of work and the way you handle it to suit your schedule and your requirements.
If the last paragraph is the one that lit your fire, stick around for Part 6 of this series where we can delve a bit deeper into the fun business side of service of process.
How it works in San Diego County
The process for registering as a process server is straightforward, although a little tricky and time consuming. Registration will cost you around $250 in total and you will begin and complete the process at the County Administration Building at 1600 Pacific Highway near downtown. Outside of San Diego, consult your County Clerk’s office for the location of the office that handles this in your county.
This is the process in San Diego County for becoming registered the first time. I understand the process is basically the same state-wide with minor variance.
1) Buy a Process Server Bond in the amount of $2,000.00 as required by state law. The cost for the bond is around $50 and I recommend using the same company I did, BondsExpress.com. They delivered my bond exactly as advertised for $49.
The first time you deal with this it may prove to be the trickiest part of the entire process. The bond must be valid for 2 years and must be issued as effective on the exact date your process server application is completed with county and you “become registered”. This will require a call to your County Clerk’s office to see if they set appointments or if you can be guaranteed to be processed on a certain date if you simply walk in to the office. It is essential you become registered on the effective date you have your bond issued for or you will waste time and money.
2) Acquire the necessary forms. These include your county’s application form and a “Request for Live Scan Service” form you need to get your felony check (This is a check with the California Department of Justice for felony convictions. Perhaps I should have mentioned that you cannot register as a process server if you have a felony conviction on your record). You must get this Live Scan form from your county office and it must contain the county identification number on the form so the Live Scan provider knows where to send the results.
Before you visit the County office where you will complete your registration, try to get the necessary forms online or call and see if a clerk will fax, mail or email them to you. This can possibly save you a trip. Ask the clerk if you need to supply your own passport-style photos for your registration card or if they take the photos in the office.
3) Once you have the necessary forms, complete the County application form and any required information on the “Live Scan” form for your background check.
4) Visit a local provider of the “Live Scan” check. The San Diego County Clerk’s office provides a list of area providers which contains numerous mailbox rental places and a few law enforcement type offices.
5) If your County Clerk does not take the photos you need at their office, you will need to procure two passport-style photos to bring with you when you register. Find a mailbox rental place that does photos and Live Scan both to save yourself a separate trip.
6) Once you have your $2,000 bond (or $2,000 cash you don’t mind leaving with the County for 3 years) in hand, your completed application, your Live Scan search form and your photos (if necessary), you should be able to visit your County Clerk’s office and walk out a Registered Process Server.
7) Visit the Clerk’s office, present your neatly prepared paperwork, pay some more money and enter the annals of a most noble profession. In San Diego, you leave with a temporary laminated Registered Process Server ID Card and your permanent card arrives in the mail weeks later.
Your registration is valid for two years. At the end of the two year period you must re-register which is less tedious as the Live Scan check is not required. You do, however, have to get a new bond issued and pay more fees to the county.
Now that you are registered, stay tuned for Part 4 and Part 5 and learn how to serve and what really goes down in the field, out there knocking on doors.