1) The first method that must be pursued, if applicable, is service through a special agreement between the plaintiff and the foreign state. An example of this type of agreement would be a contractual service provision between a US plaintiff and a foreign government. See 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(1).
2) If the first method of service is not available, the FSIA states that a US litigant must then pursue international service of process through an applicable international agreement.
This second method is aimed squarely at international service pursuant to the Hague Service Convention or the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol. Please bear in mind, however, that many countries are not a signatory to any international treaty regulating service of process and special care should be taken to determine if service pursuant to this second step is appropriate.See 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(2).
3) If no international agreement or treaty exists between the foreign state and the US, the FSIA mandates that service must be effected via mail dispatched from the court clerk to the head of the foreign state’s ministry of foreign affairs or the agency tasked with receiving foreign process.
This method of service requires that the mailing include a summary notice of suit and that the documents must be translated into the official language of the foreign state.See 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3).
4) If none of the first three methods of service are available or have failed, the FSIA requires service of process to be made upon the foreign state defendant through diplomatic channels. This method involves the US State Department and the foreign state’s own ministry or agency charged with accepting diplomatic communications from the US. See 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4).