An address for service is a mailing address legally associated with an entity like an individual or company. Deliveries to that address are presumed to have reached the intended recipient. When people file documents like lawsuits and patent applications, they must include an address for service so any legal correspondence about the matter can be appropriately directed. This may be a private home, business, office, or other location, although there may be some legal restrictions on the kinds of addresses people can use for this purpose.
One potential application of the address for service is when a service of process needs to be delivered. This legal document informs someone that a suit has been filed in court and provides information about the matter, where the court will convene, and when the trial is scheduled to begin. Service of process requires delivery of legal documents to the object of the suit and the address for service is the first place a process server will look when trying to successfully deliver the documents.
This address is also the place where any correspondence related to a suit or patent application will be directed. If someone moves, the address for service needs to be updated to make sure these notices arrive. Many require the recipient to take some sort of action within a given time period, and missing the deadline could result in compromising the suit or application. For example, someone filing a suit might be ordered to produce something during the discovery phase, and failing to respond could result in penalties.
Court records should be kept up to date with contact information to make sure people are reachable during legal proceedings. Claiming that a document wasn't received may not be accepted as a defense for failing to act, and in a worse case scenario, someone may not get documents and this could result in a court automatically ruling against a person who failed to show up in court or to respond to a request for information. This can be difficult to appeal.
People who are not sure about whether an address can legally be used as an address for service should ask the court for information. A court clerk can provide information and assist people who have problems like not having a fixed address or being in the process of moving. In the case of a service of process, if an address cannot be located or a person has moved, the process server will pursue that individual to deliver the documents, and this could potentially lead to a situation like being served with legal papers while at work, an event that may attract unwanted attention.