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DROs are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Debt relief order (DRO)

We're a competent authority for DROs, and can apply to the Insolvency Service to help write off your debts.

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A debt relief order (DRO) is a way to have your debts written off if you have a relatively low level of debt and have few assets. If you qualify, our specialist DRO team can apply to the Insolvency Service for you. Debt relief orders are not available if you live in Scotland.

A DRO freezes your debt repayments and interest for 12 months. If your financial situation hasn’t changed at the end of this period then all of the debts included will be written off. As we're an approved organisation, we can help you apply for a DRO if you're eligible.

Benefits of a DRO

  • A debt relief order can be a low-cost alternative to bankruptcy
  • You don’t pay anything towards your debts for 12 months. After that they'll be written off
  • Your creditors can't pursue you for your debts during the 12 month period
  • Although a DRO is a formal debt solution, you don't need to appear in court

Risks of a DRO

  • A DRO is only available if you owe less than £20,000 and live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • You'll need to pay the Insolvency Service a one-off fee of £90. If you qualify, our specialist team can help you apply
  • You can't apply if you're a homeowner
  • A DRO will appear on a public register and will affect your credit report negatively

Is a DRO right for you?

Use our free online debt advice tool to get tailored advice and debt solutions in around 20 minutes.

Get debt help now

Debt relief orders are not available if you live in Scotland. In Scotland, a Minimal Assets Process (MAP) bankruptcy is a similar solution, but has different benefits, risks and fees associated with it.

How to apply for a DRO

  1. The first step is to see if you qualify for a DRO, and if it’s your best option. Use our free online advice tool or call our helpline and speak to one of our expert advisors.
  2. If a DRO is the best solution to your debt problem, we'll send you the necessary forms and help you apply. You'll need to complete these forms and return them to our specialist DRO team.
  3. Our DRO team will then prepare your application. Before they submit this there's a £90 fee that must be paid to the Insolvency Service in full or, if you live in England or Wales you can pay in instalments.. Once the fee has been paid, we can submit your application.

DRO advice from StepChange Debt Charity

Watch our video to find out what a DRO is, and whether it could be the right debt solution for you.

Common DRO questions

DROs are specifically designed for people who have a smaller amount of debts and a lower income, and can be a cheaper alternative to bankruptcy. To apply for a DRO, you must:

  • live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • owe less than £20,000
  • have less than £1,000 in assets (and a car worth no more than £1,000)
  • have less than £50 in surplus income per month after paying your household bills and living costs

Our free, confidential online debt advice tool is the easiest way to see if a DRO is your best option.

Debt relief orders are not available if you live in Scotland. In Scotland, a minimal assets process (MAP) bankruptcy is a similar solution. 

If you live in Scotland, read our debt advice in Scotland page for more information on the solutions available to you.


A debt relief order will stay on your credit file for six years from the date it's approved. This may make it difficult to take out credit during this time. 

A DRO freezes your debt repayments and interest for 12 months. If your financial situation hasn’t changed at the end of this period then all of the debts included will be written off.

A DRO costs £90, which is the amount charged by the Insolvency Service to process an application. You can't get any discounts or exemptions like you can with bankruptcy fees, so the full £90 needs to be paid before your application can be submitted. The fee can be paid in one lump sum or, if you live in England or Wales, in instalments over a six month period. Once your fee has been paid and your application is submitted, you can't get your money back, even if the DRO is rejected or revoked.

Find out more about DROs

If you’re on a low income and have few assets, you may feel that a DRO is the best solution for you. As with any debt solution, it’s important that you have all the facts before proceeding. Our DRO guide has useful advice about the entire process.

Worried about debt?

Use our free online debt advice tool to get tailored advice and debt solutions in around 20 minutes.

Get debt help now

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

We link to external websites where they contain relevant information for our visitors. We're not responsible for the content of these websites, or any infringement on your data rights under data protection regulations by any external website provider.

*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2018