How much does it cost to serve the defendant?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2020

Serving court papers on the defendant costs money.

  • The court charges $5 for the summons they give you.
  • A sheriff or constable charges $35-$40.
  • If you need to serve by publication, the newspaper will charge you to publish the summons. Newspapers in the United States charge up to $100. Newspapers outside the US charge up to $200.

If you cannot afford these costs, file an Affidavit of Indigency.

  • On the 2nd page of the Affidavit of Indigency, go to SECTION 2 and check the 3rd box and
  • Where it says “Fees or costs for serving court summons” put the amount that the sheriff or constable charges to serve the summons.

If the court approves your Affidavit of Indigency, you will not have to pay to serve the defendant.

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