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How to get a debt relief order

If you've decided you want to apply for a debt relief order (DRO) you must apply to the official receiver through the Northern Ireland Insolvency Service.You can't apply directly yourself. You'll need to find a DRO adviser to make your application for you.

This page explains how to apply for a DRO.

Step one: find a DRO adviser

You can only apply for a DRO through a specialist DRO adviser, also called an approved intermediary. This is usually a skilled debt adviser who has been given permission to complete the forms and give advice on DROs. They will check that you're eligible to apply and that a DRO is right for you.

You can find a DRO adviser at most local Citizens Advice.

You can also find a DRO adviser by contacting any of the approved organisations, known as competent authorities, listed on the Northern Ireland Insolvency Service website at www.economy-ni.gov.uk .

Step two: work with the DRO adviser to make your application

Your DRO adviser will help you work out whether you're eligible to apply for a DRO and ensure you're aware of the effect a DRO will have on your credit rating, lifestyle and work. This is to help you make sure that a DRO is right for you.

If you decide to go ahead, you'll need to work with your DRO adviser to put together your application. This will include working out your income and outgoings, and adding up your debts and assets. Your assets are any savings you have or things of value you own. It's important to be honest and give your DRO adviser all the information you have, as if you apply but you're not eligible, you won't get your application fee back. If the official receiver finds out you've been dishonest in your application, you could also have certain restrictions made against you.

Check if you're eligible for a DRO

How income, debts and assets are assessed for a DRO

Step three: pay the fee

You have to pay a fee of £90 to apply for a DRO. You must pay this in cash. Your approved intermediary will provide you with a unique bar-coded letter, which you can present at a number of post office or Payzone outlets in order to pay your fee. Your intermediary will be able to give you details of where you can pay in your area. You won't get your money back if your application is turned down, so it's important to make sure you're eligible to apply for a DRO before you pay the fee.

There are some charities and trusts that may be able to offer help with paying the DRO fee.

You can look for a charity to help with the cost of fees on the Turn2Us website at www.turn2us.org.uk.

You can find your nearest post office at www.postoffice.co.uk.

You can find your nearest Payzone outlet at www.payzone.co.uk.

Step four: the official receiver makes a decision

When you've paid your fee and your application is received, the official receiver will make one of the following decisions:

  • make the debt relief order if you're eligible and your application has been filled in correctly
  • defer the order if they need to find out more information to make a decision
  • refuse the order if you're not eligible or you've given false information.

After you've applied for a DRO, you must co-operate with the official receiver. This means answering their questions and providing any further information they may ask for.

If your application is turned down, you'll be given written reasons why it's been refused. You may be able to challenge the decision.

Turned down for a DRO

Next steps

Other useful information

More information about the Northern Ireland Insolvency Service is available at www.economy-ni.gov.uk

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