By Santiago A. Cueto

Out of the hundreds of articles I’ve written for this blog, one of the most widely read has been 7 Steps to Effectuate International Service of Process under the Hague Service Convention.

That’s hardly a surprise given the complex nature of international service of process in general.

This post is a logical follow-up to that one because the Inter-American Service Convention (IASC) provides an important supplement to the Hague Convention when United States litigation implicates parties located in Latin America.

What follows is a general is a general overview of how to effectuate service under the IASC.

The Inter-American Service Convention

Replacing the traditional letters rogatory process, the IASC provides a mechanism for service of documents by a foreign central authority. The Department of Justice is the U.S. Central Authority under the IASC.  Requests from the United States are transmitted via a private contractor carrying out the service functions of the U.S. Central Authority on behalf of the Department of Justice.

The IASC was intended to establish uniform procedures for service of process among its signatories. Signatories include the US, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.  Only Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela ratified the Hague Convention.

 1.  Request for Service Form and Case Initiating Documents.

A party makes a request for service under the IASC by completing an official Form USM-272 and 272A, embedded and available for download below.

The request is comprised of an original and two copies of the forms, and three copies of the summons and complaint or other documents to be served.

Article 3 of the Additional Protocol specifies that “letters rogatory” must be prepared as part of the request. The US has taken the position that the Form USM-272/272A satisfies this requirement, and that a separate, formal letter rogatory is not required.

Unlike the Hague Service Convention, the IASC requires the form, i.e., Form USM-272/272A, to bear the seal and signature of the judicial or other authority of the country of origin and the signature and stamp of the Central Authority.

The clerk of the court in the U.S. where the action is pending must place their seal and signature on the form where it reads “Signature and stamp of the judicial or other adjudicatory authority of the state of origin”.  The Department of Justice’s contractor will execute the signature/stamp of the