The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Thebes. Vyacheslav Argenberg via Wikimedia Commons.

Nope.  We’re not building rockets here.  But we are building a ship of sorts, and a leaky vessel means the cargo may not make it to its destination.  Likewise, service of process in foreign countries must be undertaken in a very particular way, lest a judgment be thrown out later (or never won at all).  Serving process in Egypt is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter. 

You’ve got three ways to go:

  1. Tap us on the shoulder for bespoke attention—and probably some amusing commentary to boot (see the upper right if you’re on a desktop, or way down below if you’re on a phone/tablet),
  2. Cruise over to the Hague Envoy platform at to automate the completion of your forms in perhaps twenty minutes or so, or
  3. If you’re feeling froggy & would like to handle the whole thing yourself, keep reading.  This lays out the framework you’ll need.

Some background is in order, if you’re so inclined, before we cut to the chase.

  • The roadmap to the overall process—the recipe to our Secret Sauce.
  • The structure of the Convention itself is discussed in this four-part series.
  • And an absolutely critical note: the Hague Service Convention does not confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena abroad.  At least not if you want it to work. You have to file a Hague Evidence Request in most instances– or a Letter Rogatory in Egypt, which isn’t part of the Evidence Convention.  Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Here’s how service is effected in Egypt:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents into Arabic.  Egypt’s declaration to Article 5(3) doesn’t specify whether it’s required, but do it anyway.  Although the defendant may speak flawless English, omitting translated documents could prompt the Central Authority– or more likely, some local official– to reject your request.
  • Fill out a USM-94. Be very careful about ensuring that it is complete and concise, and make sure that it is signed by a court official or an attorney.  If it is not, make sure that the person signing is commissioned by the court.
  • Send to the Central Authority.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely several months or more, from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • They simply aren’t available, because Egypt objects to them all. Article 5 is the only available channel.

That’s all there is to it.  There’s really only one way to get the job done, and going around official channels to effect service is a surefire path to disaster..

Egypt’s declarations and Central Authority information can be found here.

An interesting side note for family law practitioners:  several years ago, Egypt rejected requests to serve divorce petitions because they felt that marital actions fell outside the “Civil and Commercial” category.  As such, their view was that the Hague Service Convention was inapplicable.

While that may truly be the case under Egyptian law, it’s not here in the U.S. and Canada, so somehow, somebody prevailed upon the Egyptians to execute the requests anyway.  I’ve actually had some succeed myself… but that’s not to say it won’t happen again down the road.  Practice tip, if that does happen:  use the foreign assertion of inapplicability to avoid Schlunk problems, and seek leave (or order) to serve by alternative means.