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

Help and support while you declare bankruptcy

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 that there’s a lot of information to go through during the bankruptcy application process, but you don't need to go through this alone. Here are the first steps you need to take.

On this page you'll find...

Answers to the questions our bankruptcy clients ask us most often. You'll also find further information in our Debt Information section.

The MoneyAware team are here to support you while you progress through your bankruptcy, with tips on how to stick to a budget and increase your income.

How do I apply for bankruptcy?

To go bankrupt, you need to apply online through the Insolvency Service website. Your bankruptcy will be administered by an officer from the Insolvency Service called an official receiver.

The fee to go bankrupt is £680 in England and Wales, and £659 in Northern Ireland. You won’t be able to submit your bankruptcy application until you’ve paid it in full. However, you can pay in instalments if you’re unable to pay it all at once. You may also be able to get a grant to help cover the fee.

Questions we get asked about bankruptcy

There are some common questions we are often asked about bankruptcy. 

With a handful of exceptions, all debts are automatically included in your bankruptcy, whether or not you list them in your application.

The following are included:

• Unsecured debts like credit cards, personal loans or overdrafts

• Arrears on priority household bills like council tax, rent and utility bills

County Court judgments

• Benefit overpayments

• Debts to friends or family members

If any of these debts are jointly owed alongside someone else, your liability for the debt will end but the other person will still be responsible for paying it all. The main exceptions which you’ll still have to pay after your bankruptcy are:

Child maintenance arrears

• Criminal fines

• Student loans

TV licence arrears

• Personal injury claims against you

• Debts you’ve taken out fraudulently

Some jobs are ruled out completely by going bankrupt. You can’t do any of the following jobs if you're an undischarged bankrupt:

  • Charity trustee
  • Company director
  • Consumer credit licence holder
  • Debt relief order intermediary
  • Insolvency practitioner
  • MOT authorised examiner
  • Registrar of births, marriages and deaths

Some other jobs might be affected because membership of a professional body could be suspended.  If you work in the following fields, check your professional body’s rules or code of conduct:

  • Accountant
  • Barrister
  • Dentist
  • Doctor
  • Estate agent
  • Legal executive
  • Solicitor

In some other roles, bankruptcy might affect your job, or reduce chances of promotion, especially at more senior levels.  If you work in any of the following fields, check you employment contract or speak to your union or HR department to check if bankruptcy will affect your position:

  • Armed forces or MOD contractor
  • Financial services (mortgage broker, stockbroker etc)
  • Police
  • Pub licensee
  • Security industry

Once you’ve gone bankrupt, you’ll make no more payments directly to any of the debts included.

However, if you have money left over once you've paid all of your essential household costs the official receiver may ask you to make monthly payments into your bankruptcy. This is called an income payment agreement or IPA, and it happens to around 1 in 6 people who go bankrupt.

These payments will last for a maximum of three years. The payments will cover the official receiver's costs and some may be shared out among the debts that were included in your bankruptcy.

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. 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 very 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. However, creditors will still be able to look at your credit file and see that you’ve previously gone bankrupt.

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.

In the past, the Insolvency Service would publish details of your bankruptcy in your local paper, but they no longer do this unless there’s a good reason, for example if you’re:

  • a business owner
  • not cooperating with the official receiver
  • hiding assets or debts

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 or downgraded, but there are alternatives.

If you make a payment on a loan to friends or family ahead of going bankrupt, the official receiver may decide that that you have given them preferential treatment over your other creditors. This may mean that your family member or friend will need to give you the money back.

Please be aware that you won’t be able to make any payments to a loan from friends or family while your bankruptcy is in place. 

Savings in a pension fund are not classed as an asset in bankruptcy.             

In most cases this means the official receiver can't take these savings away from you, but there are exceptions to this:

  • You choose to draw a lump sum from your pension within the 12 months following your bankruptcy
  • The pension fund is not registered with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for example it's a foreign pension
  • You've paid a lot of money into your pension just before going bankrupt as a way of keeping money from your creditors

 

Abigail, Devon

"Patient, friendly and so helpful. The advisor talked me through everything I needed to know. I only wish I'd found them sooner."

Eve, Cheshire

"StepChange helped me pay off a lot of debt that I had accumulated over the years. Every advisor I spoke to was so kind and helpful!"

More information on bankruptcy

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

We have many pages of information in our guide to personal bankruptcy. You can find out how to apply, how assets are affected, the fees, and much more. This should hopefully answer any questions you have as you go bankrupt. 

Want to know more about bankruptcy?

You can find more detailed information on bankruptcy by following the links below.

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.

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