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Can you get bankruptcy cancelled?

This advice applies to Wales

In some situations, you can apply to cancel your bankruptcy. You'll need to apply to the court where you were originally made bankrupt. Cancelling a bankruptcy is called annulment and legally puts you back into the same position as you would be if the bankruptcy order had never been made.

This page explains when you can apply to cancel bankruptcy and the process you should follow.

Top tip

If you're thinking of getting your bankruptcy cancelled, you should get advice first.

You can get advice on any aspect of bankruptcy, including annulment, by contacting your nearest Citizens Advice.

When can bankruptcy be cancelled?

You can apply to have your bankruptcy cancelled for any of the following reasons:

  • you've paid your bankruptcy debts and the bankruptcy expenses in full or have made arrangements to secure or guarantee them, for example against property that you own
  • if you were made bankrupt by one or more of your creditors but you think the bankruptcy order should never have been made, for example, because you owed less than £5000 or you had a different defence to the making of a bankruptcy order
  • your creditors have approved an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA)

You can't apply to cancel your bankruptcy just because you've changed your mind about it.

Effects of cancelling bankruptcy

Cancelling your bankruptcy puts you back in the same position legally as if the bankruptcy order had never been made. However, there are some things that can't be reversed and you may also need to take action yourself to get some records changed.

You need to be aware that:

  • you'll become liable for paying any of your debts that haven't yet been paid in the bankruptcy
  • you'll lose any property that the official receiver or trustee has already sold or disposed of
  • any property or belongings that haven't yet been disposed of will be given back to you
  • the record of your bankruptcy will be removed from the Insolvency Register five days after the cancellation
  • if a bankruptcy notice has been registered against a property you own, you can apply to the Land Registry to have the notice removed
  • it's your responsibility to tell credit reference agencies about the cancellation of your bankruptcy, so that they can update their records and your credit reference file

How you apply to cancel bankruptcy

If you want to cancel your bankruptcy, the process you must follow depends on the reason why you want it to be annulled.

If you've paid your debts and expenses in full

To apply for an annulment because you've paid your bankruptcy debts and expenses in full, you should follow this process:

  • complete an Insolvency Act application form (IAA) - you can find the IAA form on HM Courts & Tribunals Service website
  • make a written witness statement, setting out the details of your debts and the bankruptcy expense. Give details of payments you've made and proof of these
  • return the application form and witness statement to the court, which will then set a date for a hearing
  • tell the official receiver or bankruptcy trustee about the hearing at least 28 days in advance, and send them a copy of your application and witness statement
  • attend the court hearing

The bankruptcy trustee will send a report to the court to confirm you've paid your debts and explain how you've conducted your financial affairs during the bankruptcy.

You'll need to pay an application fee but, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get this waived or reduced. Ask the court.

If the bankruptcy order shouldn't have been made

To apply for an annulment because you think the bankruptcy order shouldn't have been made, you should follow this process:

  • complete an Insolvency Act application form (IAA) - you can find the IAA form on HM Courts & Tribunals Service website
  • make a written witness statement, saying why the bankruptcy order should not have been made
  • return the application form and witness statement to the court, which will then set a date for a hearing
  • notify the official receiver or bankruptcy trustee of the hearing and send them a copy of your application and witness statement
  • attend the court hearing

You'll need to pay an application fee but, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get this waived or reduced. Ask the court.

Even if the bankruptcy is cancelled, you may still have to pay for the costs of the bankruptcy order and the annulment hearing. The court will decide who should pay these costs when it hears the case.

If your bankruptcy order is cancelled because it shouldn't have been made, any bankruptcy restrictions orders or bankruptcy restrictions undertakings that have been made against you will also be cancelled.

If your creditors have agreed an IVA

If your creditors have agreed your proposal for an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), either you or the supervisor of the IVA must apply to the court for your bankruptcy to be cancelled.

This can only be done 28 days after the creditors have agreed to your proposal.

You can apply using the same procedure as an application where the bankruptcy order shouldn't have been made.

Next steps

More information

Find out more about cancelling a bankruptcy on GOV.UK.

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