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

How to go bankrupt

How to go bankrupt. Guide to the process

If going bankrupt is the best solution for your circumstances, we will advise you on how to apply for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is not the best solution for everyone and you must seek expert debt advice if you’re considering going bankrupt. We can advise you on the best debt solution for your particular circumstances.

Bankruptcy works differently depending on where you live in the UK. If you’re living in Scotland please visit our page on sequestration (Scottish bankruptcy). If you live in Northern Ireland, England or Wales the information below outlines the bankruptcy process.

How can I apply for bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is normally only suitable if you can’t pay back your debts in a reasonable time. Assets you own, such as your house or car, will usually be sold to pay off your debts. This means if your assets are worth more than your debts or if all of your regular payments are up to date and you can afford to keep paying them, bankruptcy is unlikely to be the best option for you.

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You make yourself bankrupt by submitting an online application and paying the bankruptcy fees.

Your bankruptcy will be administered by an officer from the Insolvency Service called an official receiver, and their staff of case examiners.

If the bankruptcy is approved, most of your debts are written off and these creditors are unable to take any further action against you to recover the money owed to them.

The official receiver will contact your creditors to let them know of your bankruptcy. Letters and phone calls from your creditors should stop soon after the bankruptcy because your creditors aren’t allowed to contact you to ask for payments. If calls or letters continue, let your official receiver know.

Going bankrupt is not an easy way out of debt. When you go bankrupt you’ll be subject to various credit and business restrictions. Also, your assets are at risk because they could be sold off to pay creditors.

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What debts can I include in my bankruptcy application?

You can include the following debts in your bankruptcy application:

  • Unsecured debts like credit cards, personal loans or overdrafts
  • Unsecured debts in joint names*
  • Priority household arrears like council tax
  • County court judgments
  • Benefit overpayments

*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 forms do I need to go bankrupt?

In the past, going bankrupt meant completing two paper forms, and presenting these to the court. In England and Wales this process changed in 2016 and you can now apply for bankruptcy online.

If you live in Northern Ireland you can apply through the Insolvency Service Public Portal.

You still need to provide the same type of information as the old paper forms, but you can complete each section in your own time. Each section has been made easier, and has guidance on what information is needed.

Going bankrupt

If bankruptcy is the best solution for you, you’ll need to access an online application through www.gov.uk and pay the bankruptcy fees. You can find out more about declaring bankruptcy and what you need to do in this section.

Free bankruptcy advice

Before you consider petitioning for bankruptcy or any other action to deal with your financial troubles, you should seek professional debt advice.

You can get free, impartial debt advice using our online debt advice tool. We can assess your finances and recommend the best debt solution according to your circumstances.

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