Switching if you owe your energy supplier money

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You might be able to switch supplier if you owe money to your current gas or electricity supplier. It depends when they sent you the bill you haven't paid.

You can switch if your supplier either:

  • sent you the bill less than 28 days ago

  • haven't sent you a bill

If your supplier sent you a bill more than 28 days ago, you can't switch until you pay the bill.

If you apply to switch supplier before you’ve paid the bill, your current supplier will probably reject your application - it might take a few days for it to be rejected.

The rules are different if you haven't paid a bill because you think it's wrong. If you've complained to your supplier about the bill and they agree there might be a problem with it, they should let you switch.

If you think your bill is wrong and you haven't complained yet, you can challenge your supplier's decision not to let you switch. Check how to complain to your supplier.

If you have a prepayment meter

There are different rules for switching supplier if you pay for your gas and electricity before you use it. 

You can't switch supplier if you either:

  • owe more than £500 for gas

  • owe more than £500 for electricity 

If you owe less than £500 you’ll need to ask your new supplier to agree to transfer your debt along with your supply.

If you can't switch supplier, try reducing your debt and then switch. Get help if you're behind with your energy bills.

If your supplier doesn’t let you switch

They should tell you why they won’t let you switch. If they don’t explain or you don’t agree with what they said, you should make an official complaint to your supplier.

If you have a prepayment meter, you might want to contact your supplier and explain that you have the right to switch. You can use our template letter to switch supplier if you have a prepayment meter.

How to switch supplier

You might be able to save money by switching energy supplier or tariffs. Check how to switch energy suppliers.

If you’re struggling with living costs

If you’re struggling with money, there are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.

If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.

You can also get help with debts.

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.

Further help

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone, online chat or by email.

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter you might be able to get extra help. Check if you can get grants and benefits to help pay your energy bills.

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Page last reviewed on 21 September 2023