• collecting out-of-state judgments in california

Collecting Out-of-State Judgments (Foreign Judgments)

When you win a lawsuit, you have to enforce the judgment. This involves the process of collecting the money that has been awarded to you. What happens when you are trying to collect a judgment that was awarded by a court in another state? First, recognize that the out-of-state court will not collect the judgment for you. As a creditor, not only are  you responsible for your own judgment collection, you will also have a specified and limited amount of time to collect your judgment. Some judgments will have to be renewed before the California judgment renewal deadline if they are not collected within the statutory time allowed. So, how do you go about collecting out-of-state judgments? Read on to learn about California judgment collection laws and the process of collecting out-of-state judgments.

Collecting a judgment from a solvent business or person usually involves a straightforward process if the judgment was obtained in California. On the other hand, you may run into obstacles when trying to collect a judgment from a debtor who you sued in another state or conversely, who has moved its operations or assets to another state to avoid its creditors.

Sister-State Judgment Statutes Allow Collecting Out-of-State Judgments

In California, a sister-state judgment or a foreign country money judgment can be enforced. A foreign judgment is a judgment, decree, or court order of a state of the United States (other than California). The judgment must require the payment of money and cannot include a support order defined in California Family Code Section 155.

A foreign country judgment refers to a judgment of a court granted in a foreign country. This includes a judgment issued by an Native American tribe recognized by the U.S. government. California will recognize a foreign country judgment to the extent the judgment grants or denies the final recovery of a sum of money. This does not include judgments for taxes, fines, or penalties.

How to Turn an Out-of-State Judgment into a California Sister-State Judgment

Collecting out-of-state judgments is possible by filing for a California Sister-State Judgment. This allows you to enforce and go ahead with collection of an out-of-state judgment or a foreign money judgment in California. The process for collecting out-of-state judgments is contained in Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1710-10-1710.65. The process is a little tricky, but you don’t need to hire an attorney. In these types of matters the help of a legal document assistant is not that expensive and you will find it is money well spent having someone experienced handle this for you. This will make sure your Judgment remains intact and collectible.

First, before filing the required forms to turn an out-of-state judgment into a California sister-state judgment, you must get an authenticated copy of the out-of-state foreign judgment. Contact the court that issued the judgment to get a court certified copy. Next, you will need to file an Application for Entry of Judgment on Sister-State Judgment (Form EJ-105) and Notice of Entry of Judgment on Sister-State Judgment (Form EJ-110) with the local county court in which you seek to have the judgment enforced. As mentioned above, make sure you get legal help to properly complete these documents. After all, you are trying to safe-keep your Judgment so you will be able to collect on it. Generally speaking, form EJ-105 is needed to register your out-of-state judgment in California. Form EJ-105 is used to tell the debtor that you have applied to have your judgment enforced in California.

Once the forms have been filed with the court, they will need to be served on the debtor. Next, the proof of service must be filed with the court. Most importantly, as a creditor, you can then get a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) within 30 days after serving the debtor. The Writ will allow you to pursue collection of the amount due. Keep in mind, however, the debtor will have 30 days to file a motion to vacate the sister-state judgment. If the motion is not filed, the California judgment will be finalized and you can begin enforcement.

Collecting Foreign Country Judgments

California has adopted the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgments Recognition Act. This act grants California courts the ability to recognize a foreign country judgment. An action for the recognition of a foreign country judgment must be filed no later than 10 years from the date the judgment becomes effective in the foreign country. Furthermore, the foreign judgment must be final and enforceable under the laws of the foreign country.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information about collecting out-of-state judgments. Don’t have your foreign or out-of-state judgment expire and become noncollectable. We can help you draft and file the necessary documents to get a sister-state judgment in California, allowing you to enforce and pursue collection of your out-of-state judgment.

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By |2018-01-18T15:46:44-07:00July 9th, 2016|Civil litigation|6 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. Norman Perry September 5, 2018 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I’ve looked high and low for a list of sister states for California. I have a judgement against a defendant who has moved to Oklahoma. Before I can proceed, I need to know if Oklahoma is a sister state to California. Where can I find this information?

    • Sandy McCarthy September 5, 2018 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      I am not sure. Perhaps call an Oklahoma attorney.

  2. Linda Aford September 19, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    We are a tiny credit union in Mississippi and have obtained a small amount judgment against a member who now lives in Van Nuys, CA. We also repossessed a vehicle from this same person and have a loss over $10,000 which we would like to obtain a judgment on as well. We can get it in Mississippi, but is not worth the effort unless we can collect, via garnishment, in California. He is employed in California.
    We do not have extensive funds for CA attorneys. Can you make recommendations as to how we might be able to accomplish this in CA in a cost-effective manner?
    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    • Sandy McCarthy September 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      Other than in Small Claims, a corporation requires attorney representation. Have you thought of filing in California? It would be very inexpensive. I would assume to obtain a foreign judgment in California you would need to have attorney representation unless you are not a corporation.

  3. Patricia Milburn-Barile April 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I have been granted a civil judgment and writ of enforcement from an Alberta court in Canada. The amount of the judgment is just under $27000.00 Canadian dollars. The debtor works and resides in Death Valley National Park California. I have found a Sheriff to serve him but need to file an action for the recognition of a foreign judgment before I can have him served. I don’t have his residence address but know where he works.I haven’t had any luck finding the necessary forms and documents online for California. Can you please help me. Patricia

    • Sandy McCarthy April 26, 2017 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      Here is some general published information written by an attorney that I located that may help you. I would definitely talk to an attorney who is an expert in this field if you wish to pursue this:

      Unfortunately, the United States has no reciprocal treaty with any country requiring that it recognize judgments rendered abroad. Foreign country money judgments may be enforceable in California if they meet the requirements of the requirements of the UFMJRA ‑‑ the “Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act”, codified in California, beginning at Civil Code section 1713. To do this, the creditor brings an action in California to establish a domestic judgment. But keep in mind that California courts have broad discretion to deny enforcement of foreign money judgments.

      A foreign country money judgment may be recognized in California only if the judgment is final, conclusive and enforceable where rendered (even if an appeal if pending). Such a judgment is not “conclusive” if it was rendered under a system which does not provide impartial tribunals or afford due process of law. In such a case, the California court would not permit enforcement of the judgment locally.

      In addition, a foreign money judgment may not be recognized in California if the foreign court did not have personal jurisdiction over the defendants or subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. The facts in the underlying case will dictate whether the California court will exercise its discretion and grant, or deny, enforcement of the judgment.

      Even if the judgment meets these requirements, the California court can exercise its discretion to deny enforcement and refuse to recognize the judgment if (1) the defendants did not have adequate notice of the proceeding, (2) the judgment was obtained by fraud, (3) the judgment violates public policy, (4) the judgment conflicts with another conclusive judgment, (5) the judgment was obtained in violation of an agreement between the parties, or (6) the foreign court was such an inconvenient forum that due process is offended.

      A foreign money judgment is not enforced the same way that a sister state judgment is enforced. Rather, the creditor must literally file a new lawsuit in California, seeking to obtain a domestic judgment based upon the foreign judgment. There is generally no re‑litigation of any of the underlying issues; the creditor merely asks the court to enter a judgment in California based upon the judgment that was entered in the foreign country. The debtor may not respond at all, or he may challenge the judgment on due process grounds. But either way, the court has broad discretion to grant, or deny, enforcement. In our experience, if the debtor participated in the litigation giving rise to the judgment, due process concerns are generally satisfied.

      Note that absent a contrary agreement between the parties, the California court enforcing the foreign country money judgment will generally convert the foreign currency to U.S. dollars using the exchange rate in effect at the time of entry of the foreign judgment.

      Also note that the action to obtain the judgment must be commenced within four years from the date that the foreign country judgment is entered.

      The judgment, once registered in California, accrues interest at 10% per annum.

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