Under section 306 of the New York Code, the Secretary of State serves as the statutory agent for domestic and foreign corporations. These include business entities, not-for-profit organizations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and limited partnerships.
Anyone who wishes to serve process on these entities, whether a Notice of Petition, a Summons and Complaint, or other legal documents, must do so through the Secretary of State.
Here are key things you need to know about serving process on New York’s Secretary of State.
How Do I Serve Process On the New York Secretary of State?
Service of process on the NY Secretary of State can be completed by delivering the legal documents to the New York Department of State’s (DOS) office. The papers should be personally delivered to the Secretary of State or left with a person authorized to receive the service.
Likewise, individuals who intend to serve the Secretary of State as an agent to a domestic or authorized foreign corporation must follow these procedures:
Step 1: Confirm the identity of the entity that needs to be served.
There are over one million domestic and foreign corporations registered with the DOS, most of which have similar or identical names to other entities. It is the job of the process server, not the DOS, to confirm the identity of the person to be served.
Step 2: Secure the DOS Search Page for the entity to be served.
After the entity has been identified, the DOS will provide the process server with the Current Status Information, the Filing History Information, and/or the Name History Information. These are all referred to as the DOS Search Page.
Process servers may get copies of the DOS Search Page from the DOS database.
Step 3: Complete a Service of Process Cover Sheet
The process server must submit a “Service of Process Cover Sheet” that details the name of the respondent, the section of the law under which service is being done, the name and address of the process server, and the mode of payment for the applicable fee.
Step 4: Hand-deliver the papers to a person authorized by the DOS.
The process server must personally deliver two duplicate copies of the process and statutory fee to a person authorized by the DOS. Be sure to attach the Service of Process Cover Sheet and the DOS Search Page to the process being served.
Service should be done at the 6th floor of the New York Department of State’s office at One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12231.
Step 5: DOS presumes that the entity to be served is the one named on the DOS Search page.
The DOS mails a copy of the legal document to the entity being served at the address they provided. Note that the DOS sends the process to the entity identified by the process server. The following scenarios may occur if the wrong entity was named:
- The intended recipient will not receive the DOS mailing,
- The court will not have jurisdiction over the entity that needs to be served
- Service will not be considered as against the entity that needs to be served
Who Can Serve Process on the NYS Secretary of State?
While New York Law allows any person 18 years and older to serve process to the Secretary of State, an experienced process server ensures that no complications arise during service.
That being said, the service process in NYC is best left to the following individuals:
- Licensed process servers
- Process serving agencies
- Attorneys licensed to practice in New York
- City, state, federal department, or agency employees acting within the scope of their work
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