Communities and Justice

Civil Enforcement

Serving legal documents 

The NSW Sheriff’s Office  can serve most documents issued by a court or tribunal in New South Wales, other Australian states or territories, and some overseas countries.

If you need to serve a legal document, check whether your local sheriff's office can assist. Find the local sheriff's office for your area on our distribution list (PDF, 201.1 KB) or download the Excel version (XLSX, 184.2 KB).

Payment for service of legal documents

There is a fee for service of documents and enforcement by the Office of the Sheriff. For more information see NSW Sheriff’s Office forms and fees.

Types of documents served

Civil documents

  • Statement of claim
  • Garnishee order
  • Examination summons

Family law applications

  • Application for dissolution of marriage
  • Application for maintenance
  • Application for child access
  • Other family law applications or documents 


  • Subpoena to appear before a court
  • Subpoena to produce documents to a court

Warrant of apprehension or arrest

  • Warrant of possession (issued by the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal to give possession of premises to a landlord)
  • Production of documents
  • Recovery of money


  • Writ for levy of property (seizure of a person's assets):
  • Writ of possession (issued by the Supreme Court to give possession of premises to a creditor)
  • Writ of specific delivery (to recover specific property)
  • Writ in Rem (arrest of a ship or cargo).

Documents issued by other Australian states or territories

The NSW Sheriff’s Office  can serve most documents issued by courts and tribunals in other Australian states and territories (interstate documents). If you have a document for service issued from another state, you should discuss what options are available with the court that issued the document.

Documents to be served in other Australian states or territories

If you wish to have a legal document served elsewhere in Australia, contact the relevant state or territory Sheriff's Office for advice and fees.

Documents issued from overseas countries. 

The Department of Justice has certain agreements in place with other countries for serving their documents. Enquiries regarding these agreements or about service of court documents issued from overseas, should be directed to the Legal Services Branch.

Enforcing writs for levy of property or property seizure orders

The NSW Sheriff’s Office  can seize and sell a person's property after:

  • the court has issued a writ for levy of property or 
  • Revenue NSW has issued a property seizure order because the individual failed to pay a fine.

This is often the final measure after the debtor has had a chance to pay the court judgment or fine. Sheriff's officers visit the address of the person that owes the money or an unpaid fine to enforce the writ or order.

Property that can be taken and sold

The person is notified that his or her property will be taken and sold if the fine or amount owing, plus any additional costs, is not paid. If the amount or fine is paid, the matter is finalised and the Sheriff takes no further action.

If the amount or fine is not paid, the Sheriff will make a list or inventory of the property that will be taken and sold.

This can include personal assets such as furniture or jewellery, or if the amount owing is more than $10,000, can include houses and land. Cars, boats and appliances are among other goods that can be seized.  

The Sheriff is not entitled to seize certain items, including personal clothing, bedroom or kitchen furniture and tools of trade that do not exceed $2,000.

Removing seized property

Once the list is made, the Sheriff can either remove or seize the items from the premises immediately (known as closed possession) or can appoint a person as the custodian of those items (walking possession).  

The custodian is responsible for making sure that the items on the list are not removed from the location, interfered with or disposed of. If any items are removed, sold, damaged or destroyed, the custodian can be charged with an offence.

If you are the creditor (the person who is owed the money) more information on what happens with a Sheriff's seizure is available on the fact sheet Notice to creditors: service and enforcement of process (PDF, 27.5 KB).

What if the property belongs to someone else?

If any property listed on the inventory belongs to someone else, the legal owner can apply for its return by filling in a Notice to Sheriff of Disputed Property form (see Civil forms and download Form 75). The legal owner or claimant will need to provide proof of ownership, such as receipts or proof of purchase, to the Sheriff's Office that made the seizure.

The Sheriff will then ask the creditor if they agree to the claimant's property being released.

If the creditor does not agree, the NSW Sheriff’s Office  may have to apply to a court to consider the ownership of the property. The creditor, the claimant and the Sheriff's Officer may need to attend court.

Can you make a payment arrangement with the Sheriff?

No. The NSW Sheriff’s Office  cannot take instructions from people who owe money or their representative. 

If you are the person who owes the money, the property seizure order directs the sheriff to take and sell your property. To try to make a payment arrangement, you must speak to the creditor or make an application to the court office.  

Should you succeed in making an arrangement to pay the money back directly to the creditor, then it is up to the creditor to inform the NSW Sheriff’s Office about this.  

See paying fines and judgments.

Sheriff's auctions

Please note: Auctions formally held at our previous sales locations are currently being held with various commercial auctioneers. Please select an auctioneer from the list below for details of upcoming auctions.

Goods seized by the NSW Sheriff’s Office  are auctioned at various sites across the state. The items auctioned may include cars, boats, motor bikes, furniture, jewellery and household goods.

Last updated:

15 Nov 2023

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