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

Getting a DRO

Debt relief order application process

You can’t apply for a debt relief order (DRO) application on your own. Your application must go through an intermediary approved by the Insolvency Service.

A debt relief order (DRO) is a form of insolvency designed as a low cost alternative to bankruptcy. It’s suitable for people on a low income, who have a relatively low level of debt that they’re unable to repay within a reasonable amount of time.

For your DRO application to be accepted by the Insolvency Service, you must match certain qualifying criteria.

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Why would my DRO application be declined?

Your DRO application will be declined if:

  • The total value of your qualifying debts is more than £30,000 (£20,000 in Northern Ireland)
  • You have assets worth more than £2,000 (£1,000 in Northern Ireland) - though you can own a domestic motor vehicle worth up to £2,000 in addition to this (£1,000 in Northern Ireland)
  • You have more than £75 each month in surplus income (£50 in Northern Ireland)
  • You're currently under another insolvency solution, like bankruptcy or an IVA
  • You own a domestic vehicle worth more than £2,000 (£1,000 in Northern Ireland)
  • You're a homeowner
  • You haven't lived in England, Wales or Northern Ireland at some point in the last three years

Do I need to go to court to apply for a DRO?

A DRO is not made by a judge so you don’t need to apply through the court for one.

How do I apply for a debt relief order?

Firstly, you need to be sure that a debt relief order is the right solution to your debt problems. We'll help you work that out when you get in touch with us for free and impartial debt advice.

If we think this is an option for you, we'll send you a step-by-step guide to applying for a DRO.

To apply, you will need to work with an authorised intermediary; an organisation who can help you with submitting your application to the Insolvency Service. We'll recommend organisations you can work with. And then you'll need to send them documents about your finances.

"They were so kind, they listened patiently and helped me through the process" Alison, Kent

Online DRO application

Once your DRO intermediary has the documents you sent them, they'll check if you're eligible to apply and register your application.

You'll be asked to check the application is correct and then, if you're happy, pay the £90 fee. At this point, your application can be submitted to the Insolvency Service.

How much is the debt relief order application fee?

There’s a £90 fee, which must be paid to the Insolvency Service using a special barcode letter that you'll receive with the application form. The fee can paid in full or in instalments if you live in England or Wales, but if you live in Northern Ireland you must pay it on one go.

The £90 fee to the Insolvency Service is the only fee you’ll pay to get a DRO.

Please note: Your application won't be submitted until you've paid the fee in full. This means, if you're paying in instalments (England and Wales only), your application won't be submitted until you’ve made your final payment. However, in Northern Ireland, the fee is paid after the application is submitted.

I can't afford the DRO fee. Is any help available?

In some cases, you can apply to have the fee paid by a charity or trust fund, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll qualify.

What happens after I've submitted the application?

If your debt relief order application is approved by the Insolvency Service your debts will be put on hold for 12 months. This is called the ‘moratorium’. At this point you'll stop making any repayments to your debts, and creditors must stop chasing you for the debt.

Your creditors can continue to add interest and charges during this period but it has no effect on you unless your DRO is cancelled (revoked) during the 12 months.

If after a year your circumstances haven’t improved, the debts listed in your DRO application will be written off.

Find out more about what happens on a debt relief order.

Find out of a DRO is right for you

Use our free debt advice tool and we'll recommend the best solution for your situation. You will then find out if debt help is what you need before taking the next steps.