(a) Upon the filing of the complaint and a copy with any attachments for each defendant, the court shall issue a summons. A copy of the original summons, along with a copy of the complaint and any attachments, shall be served on each defendant.
(b) The summons shall contain the name of the State and county, the name of the court, the file number of the action, and the names of the parties, be directed to the defendant, and shall state the time within which these rules require the defendant to file an answer and any counterclaim, and shall notify the defendant that in case of failure to do so, judgment by default will be rendered against the defendant for the relief demanded in the complaint.
(c) Service of the summons may be made by the sheriff, the sheriff's deputy, a magistrate's constable, or by any other person not less than eighteen (18) years of age, who is not an attorney in or a party to the action. Service of all other process shall be made by the sheriff or the sheriff's deputy, a magistrate's constable, or any other duly constituted law enforcement officer, or by any person designated by the court who is not less than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not an attorney in or a party to the action.
(d) The summons and complaint must be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with as many copies as are necessary. Voluntary appearance made by the defendant is equivalent to personal service. Service shall be made as follows:
(1) Individuals. Upon an individual other than a minor under the age of fourteen (14) years or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the individual personally or by leaving copies of the summons and complaint at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode with a resident of suitable age and discretion, or by delivering a copy to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.
(2) Minors and Incompetents. Upon a minor under the age of fourteen (14) years, a person judicially declared incapable of conducting the person's own affairs, or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the minor or incompetent person personally and also a copy to (a) the person's guardian or committee or, if there is no guardian or committee within the State, upon (b) a parent or other person having care and control of the person, or (c) any competent person with whom the person resides or (d) by whom the person is employed. If the individual upon whom service is made is a minor between the ages of fourteen (14) and eighteen (18) who lives with a parent or guardian, a copy of the summons and complaint shall also be served upon the parent or guardian if the parent or guardian resides within the State. Service on persons confined shall also conform to the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. Â§ 15-9-510.
(3) Corporations and Partnerships. Upon a corporation, a partnership, or other unincorporated association which is subject to suit under a common name, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to an officer, a managing or general agent, or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process, and if the agent is one authorized by statute to receive service and the statute requires it, by also mailing a copy to the defendant.
(4) Governmental Subdivision. Upon a municipal corporation, county, or other governmental or political subdivision subject to suit in the magistrates court, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the governmental subdivision's chief executive officer or clerk, or by serving the summons and complaint in the manner prescribed by statute for the service of summons and complaint or any similar process upon this type of defendant.
(5) Statutory Service. Service upon a defendant of any class referred to in paragraph (d)(1) or (d)(3) of this rule is also sufficient if the summons and complaint are served in the manner prescribed by statute.
(6) Service by Certified Mail. Service of a summons, complaint, and any appropriate attachments upon a defendant of any class referred to in paragraph (d)(1) or (d)(3) of this rule may be made by certified mail, return receipt requested and delivery restricted to the addressee. Service is effective upon the date of delivery as shown on the return receipt. Service pursuant to this paragraph shall not be the basis for the entry of a default judgment unless the record contains a return receipt showing the acceptance by the defendant. Any default judgment shall be set aside pursuant to Rule 12 if the defendant demonstrates to the court that the return receipt was signed by an unauthorized person. If delivery is refused or is returned undelivered, service shall be made as otherwise provided by these rules.
(7) Service by Commercial Delivery Service. Service of a summons, complaint, and any appropriate attachments upon a defendant of any class referred to in paragraph (d)(1) or (d)(3) of this subdivision of this rule may be made by a commercial delivery service which meets the requirements to be considered a designated delivery service in accordance with 26 U.S.C. Â§ 7502(f)(2). Service is effective upon the date of delivery as shown in the delivery record of the commercial delivery service. Service pursuant to this paragraph shall not be the basis for the entry of a default judgment unless the record contains a delivery record showing the acceptance by the defendant, which includes an original signature or electronic image of the signature of the person served. Any default judgment shall be set aside pursuant to Rule 12 if the defendant demonstrates to the court that the delivery record was signed by an unauthorized person. If delivery of the process is refused or is returned undelivered, service shall be made as otherwise provided by these rules.
(e) Same: Other Service. Whenever a statute or an order of the court provides for service of a summons and complaint, or an order upon a party not an inhabitant or found within the county of the court's jurisdiction, service shall be made under the circumstance and in the manner prescribed by the statute, rule, or order.
(f) Territorial Limits of Effective Service. All process other than a subpoena may be served anywhere within the territorial limits of the State and, when a statute so provides, beyond the territorial limits of the State. A subpoena may be served within the county of the court's jurisdiction. Nothing in this subdivision is meant to extend the jurisdiction of the magistrates court beyond the limits otherwise established by law.
(g) Proof and Return. The person serving the process shall promptly make proof of service and deliver it to the court. If served by the sheriff, the sheriff's deputy, or a magistrate's constable, proof of service shall be made by certificate. If served by any other person, the person shall make an affidavit of service. If served by publication, the printer or publisher shall make an affidavit of publication, and an affidavit of mailing shall be made to the party or the party's attorney if mailing of process is permitted or required by law. Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of service. The proof of service shall state the date, time, and place of service and a description of the person actually served. If service was by mail, the person serving process shall show in the proof of service the date and place of mailing, and attach a copy of the return receipt or the returned envelope showing whether the mailing was accepted, refused, or otherwise returned. If the mailing was refused, the return shall also show proof of any further service on the defendant pursuant to paragraph (d)(6) of this rule. The return along with the receipt or envelope and any other proof shall be promptly filed with the court with the pleadings and become a part of the record. If service was by commercial delivery service, the person initiating the service of process shall make an affidavit identifying the process or other documents served and shall attach to the affidavit a delivery record of the commercial delivery service which shall contain the date, time, and place of delivery, the name of the person served, and include an original signature or electronic image of the signature of the person served. The affidavit and delivery record and any other proof shall be promptly filed with the court with the pleadings and become a part of the record.
(h) Proof of Service Outside the State. When the service is made outside of the State, the proof of service may be made by affidavit before:
(1) Any person in this State authorized to make an affidavit;
(2) A commissioner of deeds for this State;
(3) A notary public who shall affix to the proof of service an official seal;
(4) A clerk of court of record who shall certify the same by an official seal; or,
(5) If made outside the limits of the United States, a consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the United States who shall use in the certificate an official seal.
(i) Amendment. At any time in its discretion and upon terms it deems just, the court may, by written order, allow any process or proof of service to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.
(j) Acceptance of Service. No other proof of service shall be required when acceptance of service is acknowledged in writing and signed by the person served or the person's attorney and delivered to the court. The acknowledgement shall state the place and date service is accepted.
(k) Dismissal of Summons and Complaint. Subject to the provisions of any statute, rule, or order, a magistrate may dismiss a summons and complaint against any or all defendants without prejudice to the plaintiff if service of process cannot be obtained within one hundred twenty (120) days of the filing of the complaint.