Process Service and Diplomatic Immunity: How Does It Work?

Serving process to individuals living in or from foreign countries is fraught with complications. One of those complications is if an individual has diplomatic immunity. While uncommon, there may come a time when you have to serve papers to a foreign diplomat. In these cases, process servers have to take the following steps.


Foreign diplomats are representatives of their home country on foreign soil. While living in their host country, these diplomats have what is referred to as diplomatic immunity. This means that they are protected from prosecution in their host country for the entirety of their diplomatic posting.

It’s important to note that this does not mean diplomats can commit a crime without punishment or retribution. If, for instance, a diplomat commits a criminal offense, then their home country can waive diplomatic immunity. However, if the home country does not waive a diplomat’s right to diplomatic immunity, they cannot be prosecuted.

There are three scenarios that are exceptions to this rule:

  • Estate lawsuits in which the diplomat is an executor, administrator, or beneficiary
  • Business activities outside of their diplomatic duties
  • Real estate lawsuits involving a diplomat’s own personal property

Serving a diplomat

If any of the above three scenarios are taking place, then a diplomat can be served. In these cases, a process server cannot serve papers directly to the diplomat; instead, they must go through official diplomatic channels, typically through a Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry will then deliver the documents to the diplomat, and then they will file an affidavit of delivery to a domestic court.

At Reliant Court Services, we can help you navigate the complicated legalese of international process service. To learn more about our services, contact us today. The information in this blog post should not be construed as legal advice.