Timeline for bankruptcy

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

If you've decided that bankruptcy is the right option for you, you'll need to follow the application process carefully.

This page sets out the process and timescales for applying for bankruptcy.

Step 1: make sure bankruptcy is the right option for you

Bankruptcy can offer you a fresh start if you can't see any other way out of your debt problems. However, going bankrupt may have a serious impact on your day-to-day life, so it isn't for everyone. Make sure you've done your research, taken advice and are sure it's the best option for you.

Step 2: complete the bankruptcy form and pay the fee

To apply to go bankrupt you need to fill in an online application. You or someone helping you can fill in the form on the GOV.UK website. You can save and come back to it later if you need to.

You will need to pay a total fee of £680 to apply to go bankrupt. You won't get this back unless you decide to cancel your application before submitting it.

You can pay the bankruptcy fee online when you fill in the form with a credit or debit card. If you pay online you can pay in instalments. The minimum online payment amount is £5 and can be paid in as many instalments as you need.

You can also pay by cash at a bank. You'll be told which bank to use when you fill in the form. You can’t pay by instalments if you pay in cash.

Step 3: withdraw some money for your living costs

There may be a delay of several days between your bankruptcy order being made and the official receiver taking control of your money and property. However, your bank or building society accounts may be frozen immediately, meaning you won't be able to access any money. Therefore, you should take enough money out of your account to cover your costs for the next few weeks, if possible.

Step 4: submit the application

When you or the person helping you has filled in the form, you’ll be asked to confirm some information:

  • you are the person named on the form

  • the information you have provided is accurate

  • you agree to a credit check.

If someone has filled in the form for you, it’s still important for you to read and agree to these statements before submitting your application.

If you make false statements on the forms, or don't include details of all your property, this is a criminal offence and you could be fined or sent to prison. It is also a criminal offence to hide property or documentary evidence.

Step 5: wait for the adjudicator's decision

After you submit your application, the adjudicator will decide either to make a bankruptcy order or reject your application. The adjudicator has 28 days to make their decision.

If they need more information about your case, they will contact you. If they do need to contact you, they will have 14 more days to make a decision.

If they decide to reject your application, you can ask them to review their decision. If they confirm their decision to reject your application after the review, you can appeal to the court against the decision.

To request an appeal, you need to submit form N161 to your local court that deals with bankruptcy. You can find form N161 on the GOV.UK website.

Step 6: bankruptcy order is made

When the bankruptcy order is made, you're officially declared bankrupt. Your bank or building society account(s) will usually be frozen immediately.

Step 7: co-operate with the official receiver

Your money and property will come under the control of the official receiver. You'll hear from them within 2 weeks of the bankruptcy order being made. They'll arrange an interview with you to discuss the bankruptcy. This interview can usually take place over the telephone.

The official receiver will then oversee the administration of your bankruptcy, either by distributing your money and property between your creditors or overseeing the appointed bankruptcy trustee who will do this. You have to co-operate with the official receiver or bankruptcy trustee as they do this.

Step 8: open a bank account

You may need to open a new bank account so that you can have any earnings or benefits paid in, and pay your bills. Some banks may not accept your account application because of your bankruptcy, but you should be able to open a basic bank account. In some cases, the official receiver and your bank might let you continue to use an existing bank account.

Step 9: discharge from bankruptcy

Provided you co-operate with the official receiver and trustee, you'll be discharged from bankruptcy after a year.

Next steps

More information

Bankruptcy application process - from GOV.UK.

For London-based bankruptcies:

Bankruptcy Court

Royal Courts of Justice




Tel: 020 7947 6441 (Bankruptcy enquiries)

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Page last reviewed on 15 December 2020