Discharge from bankruptcy

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

After a year of being bankrupt, you'll usually be discharged from bankruptcy. This releases you from any debts covered by your bankruptcy. It also takes away the restrictions of bankruptcy, unless a bankruptcy restrictions order or bankruptcy restrictions undertaking has been made.

This page explains when and how you're discharged from bankruptcy, and what happens to your debts and belongings.

If you owe money to people or companies in the EU

Your bankruptcy agreement might not cover debts you owe to people or companies in the EU. 

Your creditors could keep asking you for money while you’re bankrupt and after you’re discharged from bankruptcy.

If you live in the EU, they could take you to court in the EU. 

EU creditors still have to sue here in the UK rather than abroad in the EU, even if they have an existing judgment. The UK will recognise EU judgements entered or started before 31 December 2020.

Get legal advice if you have creditors in the EU. Find free or affordable legal help.

Your debts after discharge

When you're discharged from bankruptcy, you're freed from any debts that were included in your bankruptcy. You’ll still need to pay any debts bankruptcy doesn’t cover or any caused by your fraudulent activity.

Check a full list of debts you'll still need to pay after discharge.

When you'll be discharged from bankruptcy

Normally, you'll be discharged from bankruptcy after 12 months, on the first anniversary of the date the bankruptcy order was made. In some cases you might be discharged later. This is called ‘delayed discharge’.

You can use the Individual Insolvency Register to check your discharge date on GOV.UK. Your records will be removed from the register 3 months after you’re discharged.

Delayed discharge

During the bankruptcy period an 'official receiver' from the Insolvency Service handles your bankruptcy. You have a duty to co-operate with them, for example giving information when asked to do so. If you don't do this, the official receiver might ask the court to stop your discharge from taking place. This is called 'suspension of discharge'.

If your discharge from bankruptcy is suspended, you'll be told by the court whether you have to do anything in order to get your discharge.

When your income payments agreement will end

If you're making payments through an income payments agreement or income payments order, these will usually last for 3 years and will continue after your discharge.

If your income changes at all, you can apply to have the agreement or order changed.

More about income payments agreements and orders

How discharge affects your belongings

Discharge from bankruptcy doesn't mean you'll get back any belongings, even if they haven't been sold yet. It might take some time for the official receiver to deal with them.

If you come by any new assets after you've been discharged, these will usually remain yours and can't be claimed by the trustee. An important exception to this rule is any payments you receive by claiming for payment protection insurance (PPI) which was mis-sold before you become bankrupt. 

How discharge affects your home

The official receiver has 3 years to take action in relation to your home, this means it won’t be affected by your discharge. Your share in your home will become yours again if they haven't done any of the following within 3 years from the date your bankruptcy order was made:

  • sold your share to someone - like your partner, friend or family member

  • applied to the court for an order that you and anyone else living in your home have to leave

  • applied to the court for a charging order

  • come to an agreement you’ll pay them the value of your share

Find out more information about how bankruptcy will affect your home

When your bankruptcy restrictions order will end

If you've had a bankruptcy restrictions order made or have entered a bankruptcy restrictions undertaking during your bankruptcy period, this won't end when you're discharged from bankruptcy. It will carry on as long as the order or undertaking was made for.

More about bankruptcy restrictions orders

How to get proof you've been discharged

Your discharge from bankruptcy will happen automatically, so you won't necessarily get proof sent to you.

Email the Insolvency Service discharge.queries@insolvency.gov.uk to get a free confirmation letter. You should only ask for this after the discharge date.

If you ask for a confirmation letter, you must include your:

  • full name

  • date of birth

  • current and previous address

  • National Insurance number

  • court reference number

If you’re applying for a mortgage, you’ll need a ‘Certificate of Discharge’. If you originally applied for bankruptcy through a court then you’ll need to ask them for a certificate. This costs £70 and £10 for extra copies.

If you originally applied for bankruptcy online, email the Insolvency Service discharge.queries@insolvency.gov.uk for a certificate. There’s no fee for a Certificate of Discharge if you applied online.

Getting public records changed

After discharge from bankruptcy, your details will still be included in several public records. Some of these will be removed automatically after a certain time, while you'll need to take action to get others changed, as follows:

  • your details will automatically be removed from the Insolvency Register 3 months after your discharge

  • if you want your credit record to show you've been discharged, you should send confirmation to each of the credit reference agencies and ask them to update your file - remember the bankruptcy will show on your file for 6 years after the bankruptcy order

Records against property you own

To remove the record of your bankruptcy from the Land Charges Register you must do both these things:

Bankruptcy entries are automatically removed from the Land Charges register after 5 years if they’re not renewed. Find out more about what happens when bankruptcy ends on GOV.UK.

Next steps

More information

'Guide to bankruptcy' - from the Insolvency Service

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Page last reviewed on 14 January 2020