Illinois has a very compex set of rules regarding who can serve civil process. To further complicate things, Cook County (Chicago) imposes additional guidelines.
Let’s break it down:
Who can serve process in Illinois?
- A sheriff, their deputies, or in counties with a population of less than 2,000,000, civilian personnel employed by the sheriff as process servers. In the event the sheriff is disqualified, the coroner may serve process.
- In counties with a population of less than 2,000,000, service may also be made by any licensed or registered private detective, without special appointment by the court.
- In some cases, the court may appoint an individual as a special process server, and in counties with a population greater than 2,000,000 (at this time just Cook County) a licensed private detective agency may be appointed in lieu of an individual, with appointment extending to any authorized employees.
This means that it’s difficult to start your own business unless you are willing and able to become a licensed private detective.
In Cook County, it’s not enough to be a private detective, you have to be appointed by the court as a special process server or work for an agency that holds appointment. In fact, that’s exactly what most new Chicago-based process servers do.
In some cases, it’s even possible to strike a deal with a small firm where you can function almost like you’re self-employed, bringing in your own clients and setting your schedule.
For more information, visit the Illinois government website or the Illinois Association of Professional Process Servers.