Rule 4. Process
The plaintiff shall furnish the person making the service with such copies of the summons and complaint as are necessary. Service shall be made as follows.
(1) Upon an individual other than an unmarried infant or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally, or if he or she evades or attempts to evade service, by leaving copies thereof at the individual’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, whose name shall appear on the proof of service, or by delivering the copies to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service on behalf of the individual served.
(2) Upon an unmarried infant or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the person’s residence guardian or conservator if there is one known to the plaintiff; or if no guardian or conservator is known, by delivering the copies to the individual’s parent having custody within this state; or if no such parent is within this state, then by delivering the copies to the person within this state having control of the individual. If none of the persons defined and enumerated above exist, the court shall appoint a practicing attorney as guardian ad litem to whom the copies shall be delivered. If any of the persons directed by this paragraph to be served is a plaintiff, then the person who is not a plaintiff who stands next in the order named above shall be served. In addition to the service provided in this paragraph, service shall also be made on an unmarried infant who is fourteen (14) years of age or more, and who is not otherwise incompetent.
(3)Upon a partnership or unincorporated association (including a limited liability company) which is named defendant under a common name, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to a partner or managing agent of the partnership or to an officer or managing agent of the association, or to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service on behalf of the partnership or association.
(4) Upon a domestic corporation, or a foreign corporation doing business in this state, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer or managing agent thereof, or to the chief agent in the county wherein the action is brought, or by delivering the copies to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service on behalf of the corporation.
(5) Upon a nonresident individual who transacts business through an office or agency in this state, or a resident individual who transacts business through an office or agency in a county other than the county in which the resident individual resides, in any action growing out of or connected with the business of that office or agency, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person in charge of the office or agency.
(6) Upon the state of Tennessee or any agency thereof, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the attorney general of the state or to any assistant attorney general.
(7) Upon a county, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the chief executive officer of the county, or if absent from the county, to the county attorney if there is one designated; if not, by delivering the copies to the county court clerk.
(8) Upon a municipality, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the chief executive officer thereof, or to the city attorney.
(9) Upon any other governmental or any quasi-government entity, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to any officer or managing agent thereof.
(10) Service by mail of a summons and complaint upon a defendant may be made by the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorney or by any person authorized by statute. After the complaint is filed, the clerk shall, upon request, furnish the original summons, a certified copy thereof and a copy of the filed complaint to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorney or other authorized person for service by mail. Such person shall send, postage prepaid, a certified copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint by registered return receipt or certified return receipt mail to the defendant. If the defendant to be served is an individual or entity covered by subparagraph (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), or (9) of this rule, the return receipt mail shall be addressed to an individual specified in the applicable subparagraph. The original summons shall be used for return of service of process pursuant to Rule 4.03(2). Service by mail shall not be the basis for the entry of a judgment by default unless the record contains either (a) a return receipt showing personal acceptance by the defendant or by persons designated by Rule 4.04 or statute; or (b) a return receipt stating that the addressee or the addressee’s agent refused to accept delivery, which is deemed to be personal acceptance by the defendant pursuant to Rule 4.04(11). If the defendant is a domestic cooperation, or a foreign cooperation authorized to conduct business in this state, a refusal to accept delivery shall be the basis for a default judgment only where the motion for default is accompanied by evidence from the Tennessee Secretary of State showing that moving party made the certified mail service with the correct entity name and the correct name and address for the registered agent authorized by law to receive service of process. If service by mail is unsuccessful, it may be tried again or other methods authorized by these rules or by statute may be used.
(11)When service of a summons, process, or notice is provided for or permitted by registered or certified mail under the laws of Tennessee and the addressee or the addressee’s agent refuses to accept delivery and it is so stated in the return receipt of the United States Postal Service, the written return receipt if returned and filed in the action shall be deemed an actual and valid service of the summons, process, or notice. Service by mail is complete upon mailing.
[Added by order filed February 1, 1995, effective July 1, 1995; by order effective July 1, 1997; by order effective July 1, 1998; and by order filed December 10, 2003; effective July 1, 2004; and by order filed December 29, 2015, effective July 1, 2016.]