Debts that bankruptcy covers
Going bankrupt will mean that you won't be liable for most of your debts and you won't have to pay them. However, bankruptcy doesn't cover all debts so it's important to make sure you know whether any of your debts won't be covered and put plans in place to deal with them.
If you're facing bankruptcy, you'll need expert advice. You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice to get advice about your debt problems and bankruptcy.
Check which debts are included in bankruptcy
Most debts that you have when a bankruptcy order is made will be covered by your bankruptcy. If you become liable for things such as court costs or benefit overpayments because of something that happened before the date of your bankruptcy, any debts that arise will still be included in your bankruptcy order. This includes if you’re asked to pay them after you’re discharged from bankruptcy. This means you won't have to pay them at the end of the bankruptcy period.
However, not all types of debt are included in bankruptcy. The people you owe these debts to can still take action to get their money back. This means that before you apply for bankruptcy you should work out how you'll deal with any debts that aren't covered.
Debts you'll still have to pay
- magistrates court fines
- any payments a court has ordered you to make under a confiscation order, for example, for drug trafficking
- maintenance payments and child support payments, including any lump sum orders and costs that have arisen from family proceedings, although you may be able to ask the court to order that you don't have to pay this debt
- student loans from the Student Loans Company
- secured loans and other secured debts, such as debts secured with a charging order
- debts you owe because of the personal injury or death of another person, although you might be able to ask the court to order that you don't have to pay this debt
- social fund loans
Check if your mortgage is affected by bankruptcy
You’ll need to keep paying your mortgage and other essential bills after a bankruptcy order is made. If you fall behind with your mortgage payments, bankruptcy won't stop your mortgage lender from taking steps to repossess your home. However, if your home is repossessed and sold, but doesn't raise enough money to pay off your outstanding mortgage or any other debt secured on it, the remaining debt known as 'mortgage shortfall' will no longer be secured. This means you'll be released from it at the end of your bankruptcy. You'll also be released from a mortgage shortfall if your home is sold at any time, even after your bankruptcy has ended.
If you took out any of your debts by fraud, your creditor can't chase you to pay them while you're bankrupt, but you won't be released from them at the end of the bankruptcy period. This means you'll still be liable for paying debts you obtained by fraud after you've been discharged from bankruptcy.
Debts in joint names
If you owe debts jointly with someone else, you can include these in your bankruptcy. However, the creditor would then be able to chase the other person for the whole of the amount that is owed. They can do this whether the person is working or not.
You and the other person can each apply for bankruptcy individually, which would cover the joint debt. You will each need to pay a fee and a deposit separately. You can't jointly apply for bankruptcy.
If someone is a guarantor for a loan you’ve taken out it will be included in your bankruptcy but the other person will still have to pay the debt.
If you are the guarantor and the other person fails to pay, it will be included in your bankruptcy and the creditor won’t be able to chase you for it.
Business debts are covered by bankruptcy. If you have business debts that were taken out in a partnership, you can make a joint application for bankruptcy as long as all the partners agree. If you're thinking about doing this, you should take specialist advice.
Business Debtline (BDL) is a charity which offers free, impartial and confidential advice to businesses in financial difficulty in the UK both on its website and by a helpline.
Freephone: 0800 197 6026 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm)
Other debts you might need to pay
- Rent arrears for the place where you live - these will be included in a bankruptcy order but your landlord could still take action to evict you. It’s important that you make a plan to pay your rent arrears after bankruptcy if you want to keep your tenancy.
- Hire Purchase (HP) - if you have a HP agreement for essential items like household goods or a low value car, you’ll need to make an arrangement with the lender to keep paying for the goods if you want to keep them. The bankruptcy won’t stop the lender from taking action to get the goods back if you stop paying. If the goods have been repossessed already then any debt outstanding will be covered by the bankruptcy.
If you're trying to cut your spending or are having trouble keeping up with payments, see our advice on getting help with bills. Use our budgeting tool to see exactly where your money goes each month.