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i England, Wales and Northern Ireland only

How an IVA affects me

Individual voluntary arrangement and your credit file

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) will affect your credit rating because it will be recorded on your credit file. This form of insolvency is a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors that helps you pay off your debts at an affordable rate.

IVAs are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, a protected trust deed is a similar solution, but has different benefits, risks and fees associated with it.

Considering an IVA?

  1. The first step is to see whether an IVA is right for you. To do this use our free online advice tool.
  2. If an IVA is the best solution to your debt problem our specialist company, StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, can help you through the set up process.
  3. We'll review your finances and put forward the IVA proposal to your creditors. 

IVAs are arranged by StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, part of StepChange Debt Charity.

mum at the table with bills

Ready to find out if an IVA is right for you?

We're here to help. Free, online debt advice available now.

Get debt help

An IVA should be considered with care because of the possible consequences for your personal, professional and financial life. That's why it's important to get free and impartial advice before going ahead with an IVA, so you fully understand how you may be affected.

If your IVA fails, creditors may request that your IVA supervisor petitions for your bankruptcy, however this is very unlikely to happen.

How does an IVA affect your credit rating?

An IVA will impact your credit rating in a number of ways:

  • You're likely to find it difficult to get credit for six years, starting from the date the IVA is agreed
  • You must get written permission from your insolvency practitioner (IP) if you want to take out more than £500 worth of credit during your IVA

Clare Lindley and James O'Carroll of StepChange Voluntary Arrangements are licensed to act as insolvency practitioners in the UK by the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

Details of IVAs are listed on a public register called the Individual Insolvency Register. The Register is available to search online for free. Although anyone can access the register, it’s unlikely that anyone except your creditors will search it.

Find out how IVAs can affect you in other ways.

How long does an individual voluntary arrangement stay on your credit file?

An IVA will show on your credit file for six years from the date it begins.

Can I get a credit card with an IVA?

If you have a poor credit record or little credit history, you may see a lot of advertising for credit cards, and you may receive targeted marketing to encourage you to apply for a card.

It's not usually recommended to take out further credit after clearing your debts.

You will need to consider all your options before you apply for a credit card for bad credit. It's important to be cautious about taking one out, and make sure you avoid the card becoming a problem.

You must also get written permission from your insolvency practitioner (IP) if you want to take out more than £500 worth of credit during your IVA.

How can I improve my credit score after an IVA?

You may be tempted to apply for credit after your IVA, to try to repair your credit score. However, this could be very expensive and difficult to pay back.

There are other positive steps you can take during and after your IVA, to improve your credit score, such as:

  • Regularly check your credit report so you can correct any misinformation or inaccuracies as soon as they appear
  • Register on the electoral roll to help future lenders verify that your personal information is correct
  • Pay your bills on time because, depending on how you pay for them, bills such as your gas, electric and mobile phone contract will appear on your credit report

mum at the table with bills

Thinking about going ahead with an IVA?

We're here to help. Free, online debt advice available now.

Get debt help

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

StepChange Voluntary Arrangements is a registered trading name of Consumer Credit Counselling Service Voluntary Arrangements Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of StepChange Debt Charity.