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i England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Getting a DRO

Debt relief order application process

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

A DRO is a form of insolvency designed as a low cost alternative to bankruptcy.

It is for people:

  • On a low income
  • With a relatively low level of debt
  • Who cannot pay off their debts in a reasonable amount of time

You must match certain criteria for your DRO application to be accepted.

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Considering a DRO?

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Why would my DRO application be declined?

Your DRO application is 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)
    • You can own a car 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 are currently under another insolvency solution, like bankruptcy or an IVA
  • You own a car worth more than £2,000 (£1,000 in Northern Ireland)
  • You are a homeowner
  • You have not 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 do not need to apply through the court.

How do I apply for a DRO?

  • Make sure a DRO is the right solution for you
    • Debt advice helps you work that out
  • We send you a step-by-step guide to applying for a DRO
  • You work with an 'authorised intermediary'
    • This is someone who helps you submit your application to the Insolvency Service
    • We will recommend organisations you can work with
  • You 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

  1. Your DRO intermediary checks if you are eligible to apply and register your application
  2. You make sure the application is correct. If you live in Northern Ireland, you also have to pay the £90 fee. There is no fee to pay if you live in England or Wales
  3. Your application is submitted to the Insolvency Service

How much is the DRO application fee?

If you live in England or Wales:

There is no fee to apply for a DRO.

If you live in Northern Ireland:

There is a £90 fee to the Insolvency Service. It is the only fee you pay to get a DRO.

You must use the special barcode you get with the application form.

You must pay it in full.

Your application cannot be submitted until you pay the fee in full.

This means after your final payment if you are paying in instalments.

I live in Northern Ireland and cannot afford the DRO fee. Is any help available?

You may be able to apply for a charity or trust fund to pay the fee.

There is no guarantee you will qualify.

What happens after I submit the application?

Once your DRO is approved:

  • Your debts are put on hold for 12 months
    • This is the ‘moratorium’ period
  • You stop making any payments to your debts
  • The people you owe must stop asking you to pay

The people you owe can still add interest and charges. It has no effect on you unless your DRO is cancelled.

The debts in your DRO are written off if your situation is not better after 12 months.

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. We will recommend the best solution for your situation.

You will then find out if debt help is what you need before taking the next steps.