The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

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TITLE II

Commencing an Action; Service of Process, Pleadings, Motions and Orders

Rule 5

Serving and Filing Pleadings and Other Papers

(a) Service: When Required.


(1) In General. Unless these rules provide otherwise, each of the following papers must be served on every party:

(A) an order stating that service is required;

(B) a pleading filed after the original complaint, unless the court orders otherwise under Rule 5(c) because there are numerous defendants;

(C) a discovery paper required to be served on a party, unless the court orders otherwise;

(D) a written motion, except one that may be heard ex parte; and

(E) a written notice, appearance, demand, or offer of judgment, or any similar paper.


(2) If a Party Fails to Appear. No service is required on a party who is in default for failing to appear. But a pleading that asserts a new claim for relief against such a party must be served on that party under Rule 4.


(3) Seizing Property. If an action is begun by seizing property and no person is or need be named as a defendant, any service required before the filing of an appearance, answer, or claim must be made on the person who had custody or possession of the property when it was seized.




(b) Service: How Made.


(1) Serving an Attorney. If a party is represented by an attorney, service under this rule must be made on the attorney unless the court orders service on the party.


(2) Service in General. A paper is served under this rule by:

(A) handing it to the person;

(B) leaving it: (i) at the person's office with a clerk or other person in charge or, if no one is in charge, in a conspicuous place in the office; or (ii) if the person has no office or the office is closed, at the person's dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there;

(C) mailing it to the person's last known address—in which event service is complete upon mailing;

(D) leaving it with the court clerk if the person has no known address;

(E) sending it to a registered user by filing it with the court's electronic-filing system or sending it by other electronic means that the person consented to in writing—in either of which events service is complete upon filing or sending, but is not effective if the filer or sender learns that it did not reach the person to be served; or

(F) delivering it by any other means that the person consented to in writing—in which event service is complete when the person making service delivers it to the agency designated to make delivery.


(3) Using Court Facilities. [Abrogated (Apr._, 2018, eff. Dec. 1, 2018)]




(c) Serving Numerous Defendants.


(1) In General. If an action involves an unusually large number of defendants, the court may, on motion or on its own, order that:

(A) defendants’ pleadings and replies to them need not be served on other defendants;

(B) any crossclaim, counterclaim, avoidance, or affirmative defense in those pleadings and replies to them will be treated as denied or avoided by all other parties; and

(C) filing any such pleading and serving it on the plaintiff constitutes notice of the pleading to all parties.


(2) Notifying Parties. A copy of every such order must be served on the parties as the court directs.




(d) Filing.


(1) Required Filings; Certificate of Service.

(A) Papers after the Complaint. Any paper after the complaint that is required to be served—must be filed no later than a reasonable time after service. But disclosures under Rule 26(a)(1) or (2) and the following discovery requests and responses must not be filed until they are used in the proceeding or the court orders filing: depositions, interrogatories, requests for documents or tangible things or to permit entry onto land, and requests for admission.

(B) Certificate of Service. No certificate of service is required when a paper is served by filing it with the court's electronic-filing system. When a paper that is required to be served is served by other means: (i) if the paper is filed, a certificate of service must be filed with it or within a reasonable time after service; and (ii) if the paper is not filed, a certificate of service need not be filed unless filing is required by court order or by local rule.


(2) Nonelectronic Filing. A paper not filed electronically is filed by delivering it:

(A) to the clerk; or

(B) to a judge who agrees to accept it for filing, and who must then note the filing date on the paper and promptly send it to the clerk.


(3) Electronic Filing and Signing.

(A) By a Represented Person—Generally Required; Exceptions. A person represented by an attorney must file electronically, unless nonelectronic filing is allowed by the court for good cause or is allowed or required by local rule.

(B) By an Unrepresented Person—When Allowed or Required. A person not represented by an attorney: (i) may file electronically only if allowed by court order or by local rule; and (ii) may be required to file electronically only by court order, or by a local rule that includes reasonable exceptions.

(C) Signing. A filing made through a person's electronic-filing account and authorized by that person, together with that person's name on a signature block, constitutes the person's signature.

(D) Same as a Written Paper. A paper filed electronically is a written paper for purposes of these rules.


(4) Acceptance by the Clerk. The clerk must not refuse to file a paper solely because it is not in the form prescribed by these rules or by a local rule or practice.