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After bankruptcy

Discharge from bankruptcy

Bankruptcy usually lasts for 12 months and at the end of this time, you’ll be automatically ‘discharged’ from your bankruptcy.

Once you’re discharged, you’re no longer legally responsible for any of the debts that were included in your bankruptcy.

Some debts, such as criminal fines, child maintenance arrears or TV Licence non-payment, are not discharged in bankruptcy and won’t be written off. You’ll need to keep paying these.

If you don’t cooperate with official receiver, for example by not giving information they need or trying to hide assets, a court can stop you being discharged. This means you’ll stay bankrupt until you start cooperating with the official receiver.

If you live in England and Wales, when you're discharged from your bankruptcy you'll not be sent formal proof of this, but you can ask your official receiver or trustee for a ‘certificate of discharge’ the date your bankruptcy ended. 

There may be a charge for this. If you went bankrupt before April 2016, you can get a certificate of discharge from the court that approved your bankruptcy order for a fee of £70.

If you live in Northern Ireland, your bankruptcy will have been registered at the Registry of Deeds in Belfast. Once you're discharged, you can leave the register by completing 'Form 13' and lodging it with the Registry of Deeds which will cost £8.

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Effects of bankruptcy after discharge

While you’re bankrupt, some restrictions will be put in place. You can’t do any of the following after your bankruptcy until you’re discharged:

  • Borrow more than £500 from a lender without telling them you’re bankrupt
  • Be a company director
  • Buy a council house using the ‘right to buy’ scheme
  • Change the name of your business if you’re self-employed

However once the 12 months are up, some of the effects of bankruptcy can continue, even after you’re discharged.

The record of your bankruptcy remains on the Insolvency Register for three months after the discharge if you live in England and Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland your details remain on the Bankruptcy Register for three months after your discharge.

A record of your bankruptcy also remains on your credit file for six years after the date you became bankrupt. Because of this, you’ll find it difficult to obtain credit after bankruptcy.

Details of all bankruptcies in England and Wales are also published in The Gazette. This is an official ‘newspaper of record’ that lists official notices. This information is available for free on the Gazette website, and the details will appear in Google search results for your name.

In Northern Ireland, details of all bankruptcies are published every Friday in the Belfast Telegraph.

Bankruptcy restrictions

If your bankruptcy was caused by dishonest or reckless behaviour, the official receiver can extend these restrictions with a bankruptcy restriction undertaking (BRU) or order (BRO).

This lasts for 2 to 15 years, and this will stay on your credit file for this period. This means if you get a BRU or BRO, your bankruptcy could affect your credit file for longer than the usual six years.

Will I have to make payments after my bankruptcy?

You may still have to make payments after your bankruptcy. The official receiver will check your income and living costs.

If you have any money left over after you’ve paid your essential household costs, the official receiver will set up payments called an income payment arrangement (IPA). This will start before you’re discharged and will last for three years.

Can my home still be sold after bankruptcy?

If you’re a homeowner, the official receiver may want to sell your house if there’s equity available. They have three years to do this. If there’s still no equity after 2 years and 3 months, the official receiver will usually let you keep your home.

Advice after bankruptcy

You can find out more about what happens after bankruptcy and how your finances will be affected by contacting us for free advice.

If you are concerned about your debts and think bankruptcy might be an option, our online advice tool can identify the best solution for your financial difficulties.