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This form of bankruptcy is available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Are you looking for information about bankruptcy in Scotland?

Bankruptcy is a form of insolvency that writes off debts if you can't afford to repay them, giving you a fresh start. It's a legal process that's suitable if you have little hope of repaying your debts in a reasonable amount of time.

When you make yourself bankrupt nearly all your unsecured debts are written off, which lets you make a fresh start. In some cases, your creditors can choose to make you bankrupt. However, bankruptcy has serious implications and shouldn't be undertaken lightly

With 25 years' experience offering free debt advice, we'll work with you to see if bankruptcy is the right solution for you. We'll also consider a wide range of other solutions that could be suitable for your situation.

Benefits of bankruptcy

  • Your unsecured debts will be written off, giving you a fresh start
  • Your creditors can't take any further legal action against you to recover your debts
  • They must also stop demanding payment, charging interest and adding other charges
  • You won't receive any further contact from your creditors

Risks of bankruptcy

  • Assets such as your home or vehicle may be included in your bankruptcy
  • Some jobs are affected, such as legal or financial roles
  • Bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit file and appear on it for six years
  • Your bankruptcy will be recorded on a public register

Bankruptcy works differently if you live in Scotland. In Scotland, sequestration or MAP bankruptcy are similar solutions, but have different benefits, risks and fees associated with them.

How to apply for bankruptcy

  1. Your first step is to collect details about your financial situation, including your income, outgoings and debts.
  2. Then you should see if bankruptcy is the right debt solution for you. Use our online debt advice tool or speak to one of our expert advisors.
  3. If we recommend bankruptcy, we'll give you information on how to apply, and explain the risks and benefits of going bankrupt.

Video: What is bankruptcy?

Common questions about bankruptcy

Bankruptcy (like an IVA) is a form of insolvency and is normally only suitable if you can’t pay back your debts in a reasonable time. 

Bankruptcy shouldn't taken lightly as it's a big step and any assets you own (such as your car or home) may be sold. Bankruptcy will also be registered on your credit history for six years and could affect your job.

In some cases, you are asked to make monthly payments towards your debts from your available income. This is known as an income payment agreement (IPA), and can last for three years.

You should always get expert advice before making the decision to go ahead with it. The easiest way to find out whether bankruptcy is your best option is to use our free online debt advice tool.

Bankruptcy fees vary depending on where you live in the UK.

In England and Wales you pay a total of £680, made up of a £130 fee to the adjudicator and £550 to the official receiver. a total of £680.

In Northern Ireland the total cost is £669 made up of a £144 court fee, £525 bankruptcy deposit and solicitor's fees of £7.

When you go bankrupt almost all of your debts are written off, allowing you to make a fresh start. However declaring yourself bankrupt is a big step that involves fees and can impact many areas of your life, such as your job or home.

In the UK, personal bankruptcy normally lasts for a year. During this time you can’t borrow more than £500 without letting the creditor know you’re bankrupt.

You must also declare any changes in your circumstances to the official receiver.

You could be asked to sell valuable assets such as your home or car, but you’ll be able to keep the things you need for day-to-day living.

Joint bankruptcy is only available to business partners. If you're a couple, and bankruptcy is the most suitable solution to deal with your debt, you'd each need to apply individually for your bankruptcy as well as pay separate bankruptcy fees.

Your debts are written off and the restrictions placed on you during your bankruptcy are usually lifted. If your bankruptcy was caused by dishonest or reckless behaviour, the official receiver can extend the bankruptcy restrictions through a bankruptcy restriction undertaking (BRU) or order (BRO). This can last up to 15 years.

The record of your bankruptcy stays on the Insolvency Register (England and Wales) or Bankruptcy Register (Northern Ireland) for a further three months after you’re discharged, or longer if you have a BRU or BRO.

You may still have to make payments towards your bankruptcy, the official receiver will decide if you have to do so.

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Our bankruptcy guides

If you’re thinking about going bankrupt, there are many factors to take into consideration. You will need to clearly understand the consequences and how it affect you and those around you. Our personal bankruptcy guides have useful advice about the entire process.