Civil Enforcement Bureau
The Sheriff's Civil Enforcement Bureau serves civil processes in the manner prescribed by law and performs civil enforcement duties with integrity and without prejudice or bias in accordance with local, state, and federal laws and statutes. The Sheriff's Office's role in civil enforcement is that of a neutral party, acting only on a lawful court order.The majority of procedures and laws governing the service and execution of civil process are set forth in the California Code of Civil Procedure.
San Mateo County Sheriff's Office
Civil Enforcement Bureau
400 County Center, 3rd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063
Telephone: (650) 363-4497
Fax: (650) 363-4833
Hours of Operation
Hours: 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.,
Monday through Friday, excluding holidays
Closed between 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm.
The Sheriff's Office Civil Bureau is not authorized to give personal legal advice. Any information that is provided should not be construed as legal advice. Legal advice should be requested from an attorney.
Legal reference and resource information can be found on the San Mateo County Superior Court - Self Help website at:
Civil Enforcement Bureau - Overview
The Sheriff's Civil Enforcement Bureau works in conjunction with the Civil Courts in San Mateo County and Civil Courts throughout the state of California in the execution and service of process. It is the goal of the Civil Enforcement Bureau is to serve civil processes in a timely manner while maintaining an impartial position between all parties involved.
All requests for service or levy must include a signed letter of instruction by either the Plaintiff or his/her attorney, the appropriate number of copies and the required service fees. There are no fees for the service of Restraining Orders related to Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse, Workplace Violence and some Orders involving Civil Harassment. Letters of instruction must be complete and include a physical address of where the service is to be made. The Civil Bureau does not conduct any investigative tactics such as stakeouts or computer inquiries (DMV, arrest records, etc.) in order to affect service.
Although the Sheriff's Civil Enforcement Bureau provides a cost effective, credible service and successfully serves most defendants, there are many variables to consider when requesting service. Some of these variables may delay, or in some cases, even prevent successful service. In some cases, the individual the Civil Detectives attempting to serve may evade service or is not available during normal business hours. The Sheriff's Civil Enforcement Bureau normal hours of service are Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm. The Civil Detectives will make a minimum of two attempts on different days, at different times each day. In these cases where the subject is unavailable for service, it may be in the best interest of the party to consider the services of a private process server.
Notices of Sheriff's Sales are posted on the public bulletin board, First Floor, Hall of Justice and Records, 400 County Center, Redwood City. Real Property sales are published in the San Mateo County Times & San Jose Mercury News and posted on the Sheriff's website.
The Sheriff's Office does not maintain a mailing list for auctions.
Prospective bidders should refer to Sections 701.510 to 701.680, inclusive, of the Civil Code of Procedure for provisions governing the terms, conditions, and effect of the sale and the liability of defaulting bidders. (CCP 701.547).
Quick link to: Upcoming Sheriff's Sales *
The Sheriff is required by law to charge fees for most civil process and enforcement of judgment actions. Fees must be paid in advance. Sheriff's fees are set in accordance with the California Government Code 26720 et seq. The Sheriff is entitled to his fees whether or not service/execution was successful. (Government Code 26736; 26738). Any fees paid to the Sheriff's will increase the total amount to satisfy the judgment.
- Evictions - $125 ($35 cancellation fee)
- Keeper Levies
- $225 (8 hours)
- $1,200 (48 hour Seize & Sell)
- Auto Levy* - $1,500
- Bank & Third Party Levies - $35 (each financial institution or other entity)
- Writ of Attachment Levy $35
- Writ of Attachment (Real Property) - $150
- Writ of Execution (Real Property) - $1,500
- Civil Bench Warrants - $120
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders – Free
- Earning Withholding Order - $30
- In Forma Pauperis (Court ordered fee waiver)
In addition to fees for service, an additional deposit may be required to execute your levy. Levy deposits are estimates of costs based upon the combination of statutory fees and anticipated expenses related to performing a particular type of levy. Additional deposits may be required in order to offset the actual expenses related to the handling of inventory, moving, safekeeping of property and conducting execution sales. A deposit, sufficient to pay the costs of seizing and storing property, is a prerequisite to the performance of any levy by the Sheriff's Civil Bureau. Any portion of the creditor's deposit that is not actually used will be refunded to the judgment creditor within a reasonable time after completion of all enforcement efforts. Any deposit paid to the Sheriff's deposit will increase the total amount to satisfy the judgment.
The Sheriff's Office will charge for the actual expenses incurred for the inspection, checking, releasing, or any other handling of property under its custody, charge, or keeping pursuant to any process, writ, order, paper, or notice, and actual postal charges paid for mailing by registered mail or certified mail any notice or demand required or authorized by law to be sent registered mail or certified mail (26748 GC). A $12 assessment fee is collected from the judgment debtor on each disbursement of money (paid to the judgment creditor) collected under a Writ of Attachment, Execution, Possession, or Sale; excluding all child support obligation action by the District Attorney's Office (26746 GC).
Disbursement of Funds
Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedures Section 706.026, levy monies received by the Sheriff are disbursed at least once every 30 days, unless the monies were paid with cash. It is our policy to disburse monies every 21 days. CA Govt. Code § 26746 provides for the Sheriff a $12.00 assessment to be collected from the judgment debtor on each disbursement of money paid to a judgment creditor.
The Civil Enforcement Bureau will serve the following:
*The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office requires certain levies/attachments be served by a Registered Process Server (RPS) per Code of Civil Procedure § 699.080 and § 700.015. The Sheriff's Office will enforce the judgment and collect monies for the Plaintiff.
- Levies followed by an * must be served by the Sheriff.
- All others may be served by the Sheriff or a Registered Process Server per Code of Civil Procedure § 699.080 and § 700.140.
Listed below are common civil processes, orders, levies, and services performed by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Civil Enforcement Bureau:
- Attachment Lien Notice (AT-1) filed with the Secretary of State via U.S. Mail (must be signed by Sheriff)
- Attachment Lien Notice filed with DMV (must be signed by Sheriff)
- Automobile seizure and sale *
- Bench Warrant - Civil *
- Boat Seizure and Sale*
- Book Levy on Funds Held by Sheriff *
- Business Levy (keeper levy) *
- Claim and Delivery *
- Equipment Seizure and Sale *
- Eviction *
- Keeper Levy *
- Levy on Securities *
- Order of Appearance or Examination (to obtain arrest warrant for failure to appear, Sheriff must serve) *
- Personal Property Seizure and Sale *
- Real Property Levy
- Restraining Order
- Seizures of Personal Property *
- Subpoena - Criminal *
- Temporary Restraining Order *
- Till tap *
- Warrant of Attachment (see bench warrant) *
- Writ of Possession of Real Property (Eviction) *
- Writ of Sale – Real Property *
The Civil Enforcement Bureau will not serve the following:
Service of non-enforcement processes will still be made when a California court has ordered a waiver of fees for the party requesting service. A certified copy of the order indicating that it applies to Sheriff's fees is required when submitting the process for service. Non levy civil process can be legally served by anyone over the age of eighteen who is not a party to the action or by a Registered Process Server.
- Affidavit and Order
- Bank Levy
- Citations/Petition (Probate and Juvenile Court)
- Claim of Defendant (Cross Complaint)
- Claim of Plaintiff (Small Claims)
- Complaint without Summons
- Counter Claim or Counter Affidavit
- Cross Complaint - Small Claims
- Default Judgment (Judge's Order)
- Dissolution (Divorce and Annulment)
- Earnings Withholding Order (except federal and U.S. Postal Services employees)
- Judgment (Order of Court)
- Notice of Court Action
- Order to Show Cause
- Rent Levy (money collected from tenants)
- Safe Deposit Box Levy
- Statement (foreign support order)
- Subpoena (Civil, or Juvenile)
- Summons and Complaint
- Summons and Petition
- Third Party Levy
- Wage Assignment
- Wage Garnishment
OUR OFFICE REQUIRES THAT REAL PROPERTY LEVIES, 3RD PARTY/BANK LEVIES, WAGE GARNISHMENTS AND ATTACHMENTS BE SERVED BY A REGISTERED PROCESS SERVER (RPS) PER THE CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.You may locate a San Mateo County registered process server by searching for "attorney support services" or "process serving" in a telephone directory or search engine. You may also check the National Association of Professional Process Servers web site.
Evictions are normally posted the day after the Writ of Possession of Real Property has been received by our office. Evictions are scheduled for enforcement by their location in the county. Eviction enforcement days are:
- Tuesday - South County (East Palo Alto through Belmont).
- Wednesday - Central County (Foster City through San Bruno).
- Thursday - North County (South San Francisco, Daly City, and Coast).
The Civil Bureau will contact you or your agent to schedule an appointment to meet us at the property. Be prepared to provide the deputies with entry into the residence. A locksmith is recommended. If the defendants are present the deputies will remove them from the residence and restore the property to you. A Restoration Notice will be posted on the premises and a copy given to you for your records. After the deputy has enforced the eviction and returned possession of the property to you, report any violations by the former tenant to your local law enforcement agency.
- A Guide to Residential Tenants' and Landlords' Rights & Responsibilities
- Quick Code / Reference Guide for Landlord/Tenant Disputes
- Landlord/Tenant Clinic
Civil Process Instructions
A letter of instruction must accompany all process or notices brought to the Sheriff for service or enforcement (CCP 262, 684.130, 687.010 etc.) This letter of instruction is required by law and must include information specific to the type of process or notice you are asking the Sheriff to serve or execute. For example, at a minimum you are required to identify the process or notice you want served or executed, the name and service address of the individual/judgment debtor, a detailed description of any property sought, the relevant code section and must be signed and dated by the plaintiff or attorney of record.
Certain types of levies, such a real property levy and sale, require very specific instructions. You should be familiar with the specific legal requirements of your process or notice before you submit your paperwork.
The following Sheriff Instructional Forms are available to assist you in providing the information we need to process your request. They do not address every situation. Click to view and print the form.
Post-Judgment Enforcement Instructions & Worksheets
- 3rd Party / Bank Writ of Execution
- Business Levy Keeper
- Business Levy ("Till Tap") - Writ of Execution
- Personal Property Levy - Writ of Execution
- Personal Property Levy - Writ of Possession
- Real Property Levy - Writ of Execution
- Real Property Levy - Writ of Sale
- Writ of Possession of Real Property (Eviction)
- Vehicle Levy - Writ of Execution
- Wage Garnishment - Writ of Execution
Pre-Judgment Enforcement Instructions & Worksheets
- Attachment AT-1 form for filing with Secretary of State (must be signed by Sheriff)
- 3rd Party/Bank/Deposit Account attachment
- Personal Property Levy - Writ of Possession (Claim and Delivery)
- Real Property Levy - Writ of Attachment
- Civil Bench Warrant Service Instructions
- General Services Instructions
- Temporary Restraining Order Service Instructions
- Small Claims Service Instructions
The Official Website of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office:
San Mateo County Superior Court – Self Help & Resources:
San Mateo County Family Law Facilitator:
Domestic Violence & Restraining Order Information:
Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic:
Divorce or Speration, Child Custody and Visitation Information:
Landlord/Tenant Clinic Information:
Small Claims Information:
Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County
San Mateo County -Bay Area Legal Aid
Collecting Judgment Reference
State Judicial Council Forms
California Courts - Online Self-Help Center
All California Law Codes