What is an administration order

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

An administration order (AO) is a formal and legally-binding agreement between you and your creditors to pay back your debts over a period of time.

This page gives you an overview of how an administration order works and who is eligible to apply for one.

What is an administration order?

An administration order is a formal, legal debt solution which means it's approved by the court and your creditors have to stick to it.

To get an AO you must have:

  • debts that are no more than £5,000 in total

  • an unpaid county court judgment (CCJ) or high court judgment

  • two or more debts

If you don’t have a county court judgment or high court judgment, you need to wait for one of your creditors to take court action against you. As soon as judgment is entered you can apply for an administration order.

If your debts are over £5,000

If your debts total more than £5,000 you could try negotiating with your creditors to write off some of the debt to bring the total debt within the administration order limit. A creditor may agree to this if they think they'll get more money back overall with an administration order.

Alternatively you may be able to apply for help from a charity or grant fund, so you can pay off some of your more pressing debts to bring you below the £5,000 limit.

Use the Turn2us grant search tool to see what you can apply for.

Joint debts

Where there is a joint debt each person is responsible for paying back the full amount. You can't get an administration order jointly with the other person who shares your debt. If you include a joint debt in an administration order, the other person could still be chased by the creditor for the debt, unless they also apply for a separate administration order.

Does an administration order include all your debts?

The law does not specifically exclude any particular debt from an AO and when you apply for an AO, you must list all your debts in the application. However, any creditor can object to being included. It is up to the district judge to decide if any debts are left out.

If a debt is left out, it still counts towards the £5,000 total.

If you have mortgage or rent arrears, it is advisable to ask for these to be left out of the AO. Check how to deal with mortgage and rent arrears on an administration order.

How do the repayments work?

The court will look at your financial situation and tell you how much you should pay each month. You have to pay the monthly amount to the court who will then distribute the money to your creditors.

If you can't afford to repay all your debt over a reasonable time (usually 3 years), you can ask for a composition order. This means you only pay part of the debt. As long as you stick to the repayments, the rest of the debt is written off at the end of the time limit. Check how to ask for a composition order.

How do you apply?

To apply, fill in the AO application form (form N92) and take it to your local county court.

More about how to apply for an AO

How much does it cost?

There's no upfront fee. The court keeps 10% of your monthly payment to cover their costs.

What happens at the end of an administration order?

An administration order lasts until the debts are cleared and the court fees paid. If there is a composition order, there will be a time limit on how long you pay for, usually 3 years. At the end of that time, you no longer owe the debts in the administration order.

At the end of the AO, you can ask the court for a certificate of satisfaction which costs £14.

Administration orders are entered on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines and stay on the register for six years. This information also appears on your credit file. When the administration order ends, the court will change the record on the register to say the administration order has been paid off.

Next steps

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Page last reviewed on 05 March 2021