Discover how bankruptcy could write off unafforable debts

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a formal insolvency route for individuals with debts that they cannot pay. Bankruptcy can have serious financial implications so is often the last resort and is usually applied for when no meaningful alternative can be offered to creditors.

There are two routes to bankruptcy.

Voluntary bankruptcy

If your debts are bigger than your income and you are not meeting repayments then you may be able to apply for bankruptcy yourself. You can apply online, after which you’ll usually get an email or letter from the adjudicator within 28 days of submitting your application to say if you’ve been made bankrupt.

This can take longer if the adjustor needs to ask more questions about your application. They’ll then issue a bankruptcy order.

Involuntary bankruptcy

If you owe at least £5,000 to a creditor and cannot meet the repayments then that creditor may apply to declare you bankrupt. A legal process is started and a bankruptcy order may be issued that you have to comply with.

Advantages of bankruptcy

  • You will become debt free once discharged from bankruptcy
  • No further legal action can be taken against you
  • All unsecured debts will be written off
  • You will receive no further contact from your creditors
  • Depending on your circumstances you may be debt free in 1 year, at which point all bankruptcy restrictions will be lifted
  • You are allowed to keep basic possessions and the tools of your trade if you are self-employed
  • You can apply online to make yourself bankrupt
  • You can save for the bankruptcy fee over a number of months

Disadvantages of bankruptcy

  • The cost of bankruptcy is £550 for the bankruptcy deposit and £130 for the adjudicator fee (in NI the court fee is £137, the bankruptcy deposit is £525 and the solicitor’s fee is £7
  • Certain trades and professions will not allow you to work when bankrupt, for example, not being able to act as a company director
  • Bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for six years
  • All your assets, apart from those required for a basic standard of living, will be sold. This is likely, after a year, to include your house or car depending on the equity in these assets
  • Income you have in excess of your reasonable domestic needs may be paid to your creditors as part of an Income Payments Agreement
Already had bankruptcy advice?

If you have already sought debt advice and decided that bankruptcy is the most appropriate debt solution for you, please contact the Money Advice Service.

More debt solutions


Jarvis - Header 10

Debt Relief Order

Jarvis - Header 8

Debt Management

Jarvis - Header 9