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i This solution is only available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Declaring yourself bankrupt.

Bankruptcy helps you deal with debts that would otherwise take years to clear. Our advice can help you understand the risks and restrictions you might face during bankruptcy.

Declaring yourself bankrupt


This page: packed with everything our existing clients need to help them make a bankruptcy application.


Our expert advisors: if you need some extra help or have a question you can’t find an answer to then we’re only a phone call away.


The MoneyAware team: support while you’re sticking to a budget, with top tips and tools to become a money-savvy expert.

Starting your bankruptcy application

We’ve put your budget together and advised you that the best way to get your situation back on track is to declare yourself bankrupt. We know, from experience, that there’s a lot of information to go through and your head will be 'swimming' during the application process. Here are the first steps you need to take.

An hour after your debt advice

Sit down, put the kettle on and have a cup of tea.

You’ve taken your first step to a debt free future. We’ve helped you put together a household budget so you can keep all of your household bills and costs on track.

Before you start anything else take 15 minutes to relax and feel happy with the fact that things are only going to get better from here on in.

If we’ve emailed your personal action plan to you it’ll be waiting in your inbox by the time you’ve finished your cuppa (if we’ve posted it to you it’ll be with you in the next couple of days).

The day after your debt advice session

While you’re sorting out your bankruptcy application you can make small payments to your creditors. This shows them you’re not ignoring the debt.

It'll also give you a bit of breathing space while you get your application sorted out. Use the template letter in the resources section of your personal action plan to help you do this.

If you can't find it you can download another copy of the temporary arrangement letter.

The week after your debt advice session 

Right, time to get started.

You need to go to the gov.uk website where you can complete the application to go bankrupt online.

Once you’ve set up your user account, you can enter your details and financial information at a time when it’s convenient. You can log in and logout as many times as you need. You can also pay the fees online and in as many instalments as you need. You can only submit your application once the full fee has been paid.

The fees are:

£550 for the official receiver

£130 for the adjudicator

If you live in Nothern Ireland, you need to fill in these two forms:

The fees are:

  • £525 for the official receiver, and
  • £115 for the court dealing with our application, and
  • £7 for the solicitor's fee.

Depending on your personal circumstances you might be able to reduce the cost of the court fee by completing an ER1 form . However this is only if you have a low income or are receiving certain benefits.

To help you complete your application, you’ll need a copy of the budget we helped you put together and details of all the debts you have.

What debts can I include in my bankruptcy application?

Debts you can include Debts you'll carry on paying
Unsecured debts like credit cards, personal loans or overdrafts Child maintenance arrears
Unsecured debts in joint names* Magistrates' court financial penalties
Priority household arrears like council tax Student loans
County court judgments  TV licence arrears
Benefit overpayments Personal injury claims against you

*If you include any joint debts in your bankruptcy application the other person who took out this debt with you will become responsible for repaying the full outstanding balance. 

What will happen to my assets if I go bankrupt?

Assets are things you own, like equity in your property, vehicles or any other expensive items you own. Read what will happen to your assets if you apply for bankruptcy

Questions we get asked about bankruptcy

There are some common questions that most clients will ask us about bankruptcy. If you're wondering how it'll affect your job or whether you'll lose your car, have a look:

What will happen to my job?

Only a few jobs are affected by going bankrupt. There are five jobs that you definitely can't do if you're an undischarged bankrupt:

  • Charity trustee
  • Company director
  • Debt relief order intermediary
  • Insolvency practitioner
  • Justice of the peace

Bankruptcy might affect you job or your chances of promotion if you work in accountancy, the armed forces, the police, or if you're a pub licence holder or an estate agent.

Before you go bankrupt you should check your employment contract. If you're a member of any professional or trade body you should also check their rules or codes of conduct. These will tell you if your job will be at risk if you declare yourself bankrupt. 

Will I have to pay anything once my bankruptcy has been accepted?

If you have money left over once you've paid all of your household bills the official receiver will usually ask you to make monthly payments into your bankruptcy. This is called an income payment arrangement or IPA.

These payments will last for three years. They payment will cover the official receiver's costs and some will go to the debts that were included in your bankruptcy.

In 2014 there were 3,804 IPAs set, around 20% of all the bankruptcy orders made.

Who will find out I've gone bankrupt?

All bankruptcies in the UK are published in The Gazette. This is an official ‘newspaper of record’ that lists official notices from the Government, church and royal family.

This information can be viewed for free online at the Gazette website, and the details will appear in Google search results for your name. The gazette entry lists:

  • your name
  • address
  • occupation
  • date of the bankruptcy order
  • the official receiver’s details

You can’t stop your details appearing in the Gazette and it’ll remain in their records permanently. It’s unlikely that anyone you know would find this information by accident, and creditors don’t refer to this information when making decisions about lending to you in the future.

If bankruptcy is the right debt solution for you, don’t let the listing in The Gazette put you off.

All bankruptcies in the UK are also advertised in the paper version of The Gazette. Three versions of this are printed weekly, in London, Edinburgh and Belfast.

The paper shows the same information available online and looks like this:


If publishing your address places you at risk of violence, for example from an abusive partner, you can apply to the court to withhold your address from the Gazette entry.

It’s unlikely that the Insolvency Service will publish details of your bankruptcy in your local paper. They will usually only do this if you’re…

  • not cooperating with the official receiver
  • hiding assets or debts
What will happen to my bank account?

It's really important that you get advice about what to do with your bank account when you go bankrupt. If you’re banking with any of the high street banks, your account is likely to be closed, but there are some alternatives. Please read our guide for more information.

What happens if I owe money to friends or family?

Loans from friends or family members are usually treated just like any other debts in bankruptcy.

However, if you've recently repaid some money to someone you know, or were thinking about doing this in the future, then bankruptcy might affect them. Please read our guide for more information.

What happens to my pension?

Savings in a pension fund are not classed as an asset in bankruptcy. In most cases this means the official reciever can't take these savings away from you, but there are exceptions to this. Please read our guide for more information.

The Insolvency Service

The Insolvency Service is a government organisation who deal with with bankruptcies, debt relief orders (DROs) and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) in England and Wales. They can offer more information about bankruptcy. Northern Ireland has its own Insolvency Service.

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Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2017