We aim to make our website as accessible as possible. However if you use a screen reader and require debt advice you may find it easier to phone us instead. Our phone number is 0 8 0 0 1 3 8 1 1 1 1. Freephone (including all mobiles).
mum at the table with bills

Thinking about going ahead with an IVA?

We can help. Free, online debt advice available now.

Get debt help

i England, Wales and Northern Ireland only

What is an IVA

Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or bankruptcy?

Individual voluntary arrangements (IVA) and bankruptcy are both forms of insolvency, but they work slightly differently.

IVAs are arranged by StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, part of StepChange Debt Charity. In Scotland, a protected trust deed is a similar solution. This has different benefits, risks and fees.

They are both legal processes that can:

  • Write off some or all of your debt
  • Protect you from your creditors taking further action against you

They can also both impact:

  • Your job
  • Your credit file
  • Your home
  • Your assets

The information on this page is to help you work out what is important to you before deciding on a solution.


There are two types of bankruptcy in Scotland. They are:

They work differently to the bankruptcy available in the rest of the UK.

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

Will bankruptcy or an IVA affect my job?

Some jobs might be affected by an IVA or bankruptcy.

These include:

  • Company directors
  • Law and property roles
  • Finance and accountancy roles
  • Pub licensees

The best way to find out if insolvency impacts your job is to:

  • Check with your professional membership body
  • Talk to your trade union
  • Ask to speak to your HR department confidentially

Bankruptcy is more likely to affect your job than an IVA.

In both cases, it becomes more of a problem the more senior you are.

Most jobs are not affected by insolvency, but do double check before going ahead.

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.

What do an IVA and bankruptcy have in common?

There are a few things that an IVA and bankruptcy have in common:

1. Both are recorded on your credit file

  • For six years from the date they begin
  • This can make it harder to take out further credit

2. Your name goes on the Individual Insolvency Register

  • This is an online database of everyone who:
  • Goes bankrupt
  • Is in an IVA
  • Has a debt relief order
  • Your name is removed three months after the solution ends

3. Your debt is written off

This is either:

  • When the IVA is completed or
  • You receive your discharge from bankruptcy

4. You stop getting contact from the people you owe

  • Both are formal debt solutions
  • This means the people you owe cannot contact you for money

How will an IVA or bankruptcy affect my home?

IVAs and bankruptcy have different impacts on your home, depending on whether you rent or own it.

Renting during an IVA

An IVA should have no effect on a home you rent.

It is very unlikely you need to move.

Renting during bankruptcy

You can usually stay in your home if your rent is up to date.

You could lose your home if you have rent arrears when you go bankrupt.


Some private landlords ask you to leave if you go bankrupt or take out an IVA.

Check your rental contract to see if it includes this condition.

Homeowners in an IVA

You are not forced to sell your home. But you may have to remortgage it six months before the end of your IVA.

You only have to remortgage if it is affordable.

If not, you may have to either:

  • Pay an extra 12 months of payments into the IVA
  • Raise money from a third party

Homeowners and Bankruptcy

The official receiver has two years and three months to decide what to do with your house.

  • They may ask you to sell it if it has equity
  • They may let you keep it if not
  • They could ask you to sell it if the house goes up in value

Owning a car during bankruptcy or an IVA

You can normally keep your car in an IVA. As long as it is moderately priced.

You are expected to sell your car when you apply for bankruptcy unless:

  • It has a low value, or
  • It is essential
  • For example, you need it for work

Get help now

Get free and impartial debt advice before choosing an IVA.

You need an insolvency practitioner to set one up.

StepChange is an approved organisation to manage IVAs.

Use our free online advice tool to find out if this is the best solution for you.

Our specialist subsidiary, StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, can help you through the process

  • We review your finances
  • We put forward the IVA proposal to the people you owe

There are no up-front fees, and we do not charge for debt advice.

Fees are detailed in your IVA proposal, which an IP will assist in drafting. Any fees have to be approved by creditors. Your IP will explain what fees you need to pay for your IVA.

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

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