501 - Citation & Service

  1. 501.1 - Citation
  2. 501.2 - Service of Citation
  3. 501.3 - Duties of Officer or Person Receiving Citation
  4. 501.4 - Service of Papers Other Than Citation


When a petition is filed with a justice court to initiate a suit, the clerk must promptly issue a citation and deliver the citation as directed by the plaintiff. The plaintiff is responsible for obtaining service on the defendant of the citation and a copy of the petition with any documents filed with the petition. Upon request, separate or additional citations must be issued by the clerk. The clerk must retain a copy of the citation in the court’s file.


The citation must:

  1. Be styled "The State of Texas”;
  2. Be signed by the clerk under seal of court or by the judge;
  3. Contain the name, location, and address of the court;
  4. Show the date of filing of the petition;
  5. Show the date of issuance of the citation;
  6. Show the file number and names of parties;
  7. Be directed to the defendant;
  8. Show the name and address of attorney for plaintiff, or if the plaintiff does not have an attorney, the address of plaintiff; and
  9. Notify defendant that if the defendant fails to file an answer, judgment by default may be rendered for the relief demanded in the petition.


The citation must include the following notice to the defendant in boldface type: "You have been sued. You may employ an attorney to help you in defending against this lawsuit. But you are not required to employ an attorney. You or your attorney must file an answer with the court. Your answer is due by the end of the 14th day after the day you were served with these papers. If the 14th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, your answer is due by the end of the first day following the 14th day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. Do not ignore these papers. If you do not file an answer by the due date, a default judgment may be taken against you. For further information, consult Part V of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which is available online and also at the court listed on this citation."


The plaintiff must provide enough copies to be served on each defendant. If the party fails to do so, the clerk may make copies and charge the plaintiff the allowable copying cost.