Steps to go bankrupt
Step 1: Make sure going bankrupt is the right option for you
Bankruptcy can be an effective way to solve personal debt, BUT THERE ARE USUALLY OTHER, LESS SEVERE OPTIONS OPEN TO YOU, which need to be looked at.
Going bankrupt should ALWAYS be considered as a LAST RESORT, and if you apply to go bankrupt the Bankruptcy Adjudicator will expect you to HAVE considered any bankruptcy alternatives and help with debt that you may qualify for.
Making yourself bankrupt is a big step to take and requires expert debt advice.
If you haven't already received advice from us and are considering how to go bankrupt, or are even asking yourself questions like 'should I go bankrupt or not?', 'what will happen to my home?', or 'will it effect my job?' you can use our online bankruptcy test tool, which will provide you with a free and confidential assessment of whether you qualify for bankruptcy, the impact it will have on your current situation, and show you any other options which may be available to you.
Or, if you’d prefer to speak to us, call our FREE Bankruptcy Helpline on 0800 564 22 11 (freephone, including all mobiles).
We'll also send you our "Free Guide to Bankruptcy" by email.
Free Online Bankruptcy Eligibility Test
Use our Free Online Bankruptcy Qualification Check to see if Bankruptcy could be the right option for you.
Once you have checked that bankruptcy is the right option for you, you're ready to move to step 2 and start your application.
Step 2: Register for your online bankruptcy application
To start your application, you first need to create an online account.
You do this on the apply-for-bankruptcy.service.gov.uk website
At the the moment the application may not work on some mobile phones. We suggest you use a laptop or desktop if possible.
Once on the .Gov website you need to enter your name, email address and answers to three security questions you select from the dropdown menus.
It's a good idea to write down the answers you've given to the security questions, as the online system will ask you one of your security questions each time you log into your application, and you won't be able to log in if you have forgotten the answer.
Once you have entered the details you will get a message on screen confirming it has been received and that they will send you an email.
Check your email to make sure you've got it, then keep this email safe as it contains your bankruptcy application number.
The application number will look something like 7C4U-B3MB-EFFG you need this application number to logon to the system.
If you and your partner are both going bankrupt, there is no such thing as a "joint bankruptcy" so you will each need to follow the process above to start a bankruptcy application.
If you need help with bankruptcy then call our FREE Bankruptcy Helpline on 0800 564 2211 (freephone, including all mobiles).
Step 3: Get the bankruptcy fee and deposit together
This might sound ridiculous, but applying to go bankrupt is not cheap.
You have to pay the Official Receivers deposit of £550 and the £130 Adjudicators fee.
So the total cost to go bankrupt is £680.
The good news is that this can now be paid in installments, the minimum installment is £5.
You used to have to pay cash at court but now you can pay online using your card and the online bankruptcy fee payment system.
This means you don't have to pay all you bankruptcy fees at one, you can pay a bit at a time, using the time it takes to save up the fees to enter all the details on the system. However you can not submit your application until the fees have been paid in full.
You can also authorise someone esle to pay your bankruptcy fees for you.
We have a full guide on how much bankruptcy costs, it covers the help you can get with the fees, how you can pay and how the bankruptcy installment system works.
If you are on a low income or get benefits, and your debts are less than £20,000 then you should check if you can get a debt relief order, as it only costs £90 to apply.
Step 4: Complete your bankruptcy application
You'll need to keep logging on to the system, using your bankruptcy application number.
Once you have logged in you start at the Application Overview page. This shows you the status of each of the eight different sections and also how much of the bankruptcy fees you have paid so far.
Please see the screenshot below which shows what the application screen look like.
Until you are ready to submit your application you can go back and view the answers to the sections you have already done and edit them.
Be careful when you are completing the income and expenditure section as, if it is found that there is surplus income, you could be face an Income Payments Agreement (IPA) for 36 months.
The expenditure sections asks you to enter costs for alcohol, tobacco, entertainment, newspapers/magazines, social clubs and gifts – but these expenses will not be allowed in bankruptcy.
So if you include any of these in your expenditure, they may be removed and it may be decided that you can afford to pay towards your debts under an Income Payments Agreement or IPA for short.
So if you get your expenditure wrong or put more than is allowed in certain sections, you will be expected to pay monthly for 3 years. If you consider that an IPA of £200 per month will cost £7200 over the 3 years it will be in force.
We recommend you speak to our advisors to help you make sure you are entering your expenditure in line with the official guidlines. We are very aware of the importance of the income and expenditure and know exactly what may be claimed and what can't.
Please call the Bankruptcy Advice helpline on 0800 564 2211 (freephone, including all mobiles).
Or click here and one of the team will call you back.
Get Free Help With Your Bankruptcy Application
Get Free Help
Let one of our bankruptcy experts help you complete your bankruptcy application. It's FREE!
You can also view our guide to the 8 sections of the bankruptcy application. This shows screen shots of each section and details you need to enter.
Step 5: Submit your application
Once you've completed all the questions in each one of the sections, you will see the screen below.
Before you hit the "submit your application button", have a quick check through each section and make sure the information is correct and you haven't missed anything.
Once you are happy that you have completed everything, and you have paid the £680 fee, you can submit your bankruptcy application.
As soon as you've hit that submit button you will be asked to verify that
- You are the person named in the application
- The information you have submitted is accurate
- That you consent to a credit search being run using the details you have provided
Why do they need all this information?
This online application replaces the old paper bankruptcy petition form (Form 6.27) and the lengthy statement of affairs (Form 6.28).
The information you enter, the credit check and ID verification enables the Bankruptcy Adjudicator to check that you qualify to go bankrupt.
Once your bankruptcy application has been accepted, your information will be passed to the office receivers office, who will interview you about this.
They will then go through your income and expenditure, taking account of any body who lives with you to see if an Income Payments Agreement or Income Payments Order is required.
What if I can't answer all the questions?
Don't panic! It's not uncommon for people not to remember everything about there finances, especially from 5 years ago.
Often people who have debt problems have stopped opening letters. You may have moved house and lost some of your paperwork, seperated from your partner, worked away from home or even lived abroad during the period the Adjudicator needs to know about.
Just enter as much information as you can.
If you are stuggling completing the application, our bankruptcy experts can quickly help you with the application process.
NEED HELP WITH THE BANKRUPTCY APPLICATION?
Simply call the Bankruptcy Advice helpline on 0800 564 22 11
(freephone, including all mobiles).
Or click here and one of the team will call you back.
Step 6: Pay the fees
Your bankruptcy application will not be forwarded to the Adjudicator until you have paid the bankruptcy fee of £680 in full.
Step 7: Email confirmation from the Adjudicator's Office
When you have paid the fees and submitted your application, it gets sent to the Bankruptcy Adjudicator.
They aim to deal with 95% of all bankruptcy applications within 2 working days. However it can take up to 28 days for them to make a decision. During this time you need to keep checking your emails, as they may want further information to process your application.
Once they have made a decision whether they accept your bankruptcy, they will send you a confirmation email.
You can also check the status of your application by logging on the the system. If your bankruptcy has been approved, there will be a copy of your bankruptcy order on the system, together with the date it started.
Once a bankruptcy order is made, any bank or building society accounts you have will usually be frozen immediately for review by the official receiver. Your bank will then decide whether or not they will continue to allow you to bank with them. In the event that they don't you can arrange for an alternative bank account that will allow you to continue as usual.
Read our guide to Bank Accounts and Bankruptcy to see what will happen to your bank account after you've been declared bankrupt.
Step 8: You are declared bankrupt
Once the Adjudicator has accepted your bankruptcy order and you have received your confirmation email, you’ll be officially bankrupt.
What happens next?
If you have been made bankrupt your name, address and details will be published on the Insolvency Register. You can apply to have your address removed from the Individual Insolvency Register if publishing it will put you at risk of violence. This won’t affect your bankruptcy.
You will also have to follow the bankruptcy restrictions.
You’ll get a letter from the official receiver within 2 weeks of the Adjudicator making you bankrupt. The official receiver is an officer of the court who will manage your bankruptcy at this stage.
You’ll also get an information pack that explains everything that you need to know and what you must do.
You might be asked to:
- Fill in a questionnaire
- Attend an interview with the official receiver
- Give the official receiver more information about your debts, creditors, assets and income
Read our guide to what happens at the official receiver to see what happens once you are bankrupt.
Need Bankruptcy Advice?
Our bankruptcy experts can quickly advise you on what to do if you are considering going bankrupt. Simply call the team FREE on 0800 564 22 11.
Alternatively take the online bankruptcy test and check if you qualify.
Going Bankrupt in Scotland or Northern Ireland?
The above information covers how to go bankrupt in England and Wales. For a guide about how to go bankrupt in Northern Ireland or Scotland see:
How To Go Bankrupt In Scotland
How To Go Bankrupt In Ireland