How to clean up your credit file after an IVA

posted by in Living with debt

This page contains information about debt solutions available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Debt advice in Scotland involves similar but different solutions. Before considering an IVA as a debt solution, please make sure you fully understand the risks involved. Please visit our website for more information.

Post IVA credit file clean up

Post IVA credit file clean up

It’s a happy day when your individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) finally ends, you’re well and truly free and clear and your money is your own again.

You can also take satisfaction from the fact that you have done your best by your creditors. After all they were happy to accept the terms of the IVA and to complete the IVA you’ll have complied with the terms that were set out.

First steps

The first thing you’ll receive from StepChangeVA is your IVA Completion Certificate. The certificate will be signed by your Supervisor and is proof that your IVA is now done and dusted – Hooray!

The Insolvency Service will mark your IVA as completed and update their records accordingly; once this is done you can start the job of repairing your credit file.

How to get your credit rating back into shape

We’ve blogged a before about credit ratings and how they work. This advice is strictly for those coming out of an IVA, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a lump sum IVA or five or six year term IVA.

There are three credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK: Callcredit, Equifax and Experian. You’ll need to get access to your credit report from all three agencies. You can get a one-off credit report from each of the CRAs online or by post for just £2.

Once you receive the reports it’s important to check the details on all three, and compare each against the other two. It’s also good to remember that credit reports only stretch back six years.

Another important thing to look out for is any adverse information after your IVA started. Ideally you should have a clean bill of health as any issues would have been registered with the CRA prior to the start of your IVA, but if they’re showing and you’ve got issues listed after your IVA started you should address these straight away.

Remember that not all accounts listed on the credit report will be CCA-regulated companies (or “money lenders” to you and me). For example your payments to your mobile phone (if you’re on a contract) and electricity companies will also appear in your credit report.

Your IVA will show on your credit file for six years from the day it started. So if your IVA was five years long it will only be listed on your credit file for a further 12 months. The idea behind asking creditors to correct the dates on defaults is to make sure that these too will be gone within 12 months.

A clean bill of health

Once your IVA and defaults have passed the six-year mark you will find that they are no longer listed on your report. This doesn’t automatically mean that you will be left with a clean rating and be able to get credit again instantly.

Ratings-wise you’re essentially starting from scratch and will have to take time to build a credit file that is attractive to lenders. Often, the only way to do this is to take a form of credit such as a credit card, use it regularly, never miss any payment and stay within the agreed limits, as Martin Lewis explains in this article.

Upward spiral

Living for five or six years without any form of credit (except possibly a mortgage) is a real achievement in this day and age. On finishing an IVA some of you may feel that you would never want to take out credit again and that you’ve learned a valuable hard won lesson.

It’s still wise to make sure that you repair your credit file to the best of your ability. You never know what’s round the corner and credit can sometimes be useful in an emergency situation. When you take out credit it’s important that you borrow within your budget and that you have the means to repay in full.

While we make every endeavour to keep your IVA on track, please be aware that failure of an IVA may lead to your creditors petitioning for your bankruptcy. If you own your own home, please also be aware that you may need to release equity in order to pay off your debts, and remortgaging may attract higher interest rates. Your IVA may be extended for a year if remortgaging is not an option.

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Matthew worked as an IVA drafter prior to working in social media. In a former life he wrote scripts for Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. He has 3 chickens, 2 dogs and a rabbit.

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Tags Living with debt
  • Julie

    We have 5 payments left on our IVA we have been told we owe £1,950 which will be covered by the last 5 payments. We have had some difficulties along the way and are now quite apprehensive, because we were due to finish this month but the IVA company added extra payments using terminology and other stuff we didn’t really understand. Are they allowed at this late stage to increase payments? Extend the IVA or demand more than what we owe?

  • Daniel Garfinkel

    I am going to raise awareness for this, I worked for a major credit reporting agency and you won’t believe how many Americans are affected by poor credit, and how simply they can help their own situation. Do you not watch the news? People think that the banks are on their side, but in fact they’re trying to keep credit scores low so they make more from interest payments – wake up people! Mine was also affected until I got intouch with a gentle man..I told him what I wanted him to do and he got it him “”

  • Sean Harris

    I got accepted for a iva then it got cancelled after 30 days so never made any payments.
    But it still shows on my credit report that I’ve had a iva, will this be the case for next 6 years even though I haven’t benefited at all from a iva?

    • moneyaware

      Hello Sean,

      Thanks for your comment.

      We may need more information about this to be able to advise you, what was the reason that you didn’t proceed with the IVA and no payments were made?



      • Sean Harris

        It was due to the main lender my car finance was a protected loan so i was never eligible for one.
        I think the company that dealt with it all didnt look into it properly

  • Emma

    I finished paying my IVA and it is over 6 years. It is no longer on my experian credit report. I have been saving hard for months now but have still been declined a mortgage. My IVA went against me even though it is not on my file.
    Any advice

    • moneyaware

      Hi Emma

      Sorry to hear that you’re experiencing problems getting approved for a mortgage.

      Once your IVA and defaults have passed the six-year mark you will find that they are no longer listed on your report. This doesn’t automatically mean that you will be left with a clean rating and be able to get credit again instantly.

      Ratings-wise you’re essentially starting from scratch and will have to take time to build a credit file that is attractive to lenders. Often, the only way to do this is to take a form of credit such as a credit card, use it regularly, never miss any payment and stay within the agreed limits.

      Take some time to do this, keep and eye on your credit file and you’ll see your score begin to improve, you can then reapply for a mortgage.

      I hope this helps.

  • amanda hancock

    My IVA was terminated. I never went through with it or paid into it. Experian have removed it from my credit file but callcredit and equifax and saying it will remain on there for the remaining time untill 6 years is up. Why wont the remove it when Experian have?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Amanda,

      This is a bit of a strange one, because I’d expect all three credit reference agencies to report this the same way.

      If you started an IVA and it failed then that would usually still show on your credit file for six years from when you started. If you didn’t get to the point where the IVA started then it shouldn’t be on any of your credit reports.

      It may be worth searching for yourself on the insolvency register to see if you’re on there. Here’s the link:

      If you feel that the information is on your credit file in error then the credit reference agencies should update your file to make sure it’s accurate. If they don’t do this then you could consider making a complaint.

      Kind regards


    • amanda hancock

      I’ve checked that and nothing in my name. I never went through with the IVA and didn’t pay into it so it was terminated. I’ve sent the letter of termination to the credit reference agencies but the 2 mentioned are still refusing to remove it. Only Experian did

      • moneyaware

        Hi Amanda,

        If you’ve pointed out an inaccuracy on your credit report and the credit reference agency hasn’t corrected it then you can “report a concern” to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Here’s a link to the relevant section of their website:

        I hope this helps.


  • Carl

    The agency have removed my IVA but one of the loans that was in the IVA still remains on my file? they removed it and it went back on, they are now telling it needs to stay on there for 5 more years ?? Is this correct as the IVA ran for 7 years

  • Kay Corcoran

    Hi, we completed our IVA on 21st March 2017 after 6 years but it is still showing on Equifax and Call Credit files and they say they need proof of completion before it can be removed? Is this right or should it be automatic based on dates? We still haven’t received our completion certificate, the agency we are with have said this could take up to 6 months. Interestingly though the IVA is no longer showing on my Experian file and I now have an excellent credit score!

    • moneyaware

      Hello Kay

      Thanks for your comment. In order for the IVA to be removed from your file, most CRAs require you to send them a copy of your certificate of completion before they will update your file.

      Usually, you would then write to the IVA provider to ask them to provide your certificate as soon as possible, once you have sent the proof of completion to the CRAs you should then wait 3 months for the updated information to appear on your file.

      I hope that this general information helps, for individual advice you should contact your IVA supervisor.


  • Shelley O’Connor


    I am soon to get inheritance and will be able to pay off my IVA debt. i have only had it for a year and as i understand it the first year of payments is purely for the IVA companies fees and the rest of the payments after the first year will go towards clearing the debt?

    My question is, if i am able to pay off my IVA early will it still show on credit file for 6 years? If so does this mean i won’t be able to get a credit card to help build up my credit score? I really want to get a mortgage and now i am very concerned this wont be able to happen.

    Any advice would be gratefully received.

    Many thanks,


    • moneyaware

      Hello Shelley

      Thanks for your comment. We can’t give individual advice on IVA’S as you’d need to speak to your IVA supervisor however, we can give you general information.

      You’ll need to check your IVA agreement to see what fees are being charged for your arrangement. Fee payment structures vary from different providers so we recommend that you check your paperwork to see yours.

      An IVA is recorded on your credit file with the three credit reference agencies for six years from the date of approval. It will also appear publically on the Individual Insolvency Register for the duration of the IVA and for a further three months after completion.

      When an IVA is successfully completed you’ll be provided with a completion certificate showing they have satisfied the terms of the IVA. You can then send a copy of this to the credit reference agencies and request their credit file is amended to confirm the IVA has been completed.

      If you’re concerned about how you can rebuild your credit score, read this article which should help you:

      Get in touch with your supervisor to get individual advice.


  • John Brooks

    Hi there i was on an iva and it was completed in March this year,I understand that I have to wait until March next year for it to come of my credit report being 6 years ,but I still have a ccj on there is this right or should it of been removed?

    • moneyaware

      Hello John

      Thanks for your message. You can read more about CCJs on our website:

      If you paid the CCJ in full within a month of the judgment you can apply to have the CCJ removed from the public register and from your credit file.

      To do this, you need to apply for a ‘certificate of cancellation’ from the County Court hearing centre which issued the judgment, providing them with proof of payment. You do this using court form N443 Application for a certificate of satisfaction / cancellation . There’s a £15 court fee to do this, but if you’re on a low income you may be able to get this for free. You can check to see if you’re eligible and apply for help with the court fees online.

      Once the court has evidence you’ve paid the CCJ within a month they’ll contact the Registry Trust to remove the judgment from the public register.

      If you pay off the CCJ more than a month after the judgment, you can’t remove it from the register, so it’ll appear there for six years. During this time, if you do pay it off, you can apply to the court for a ‘certificate of satisfaction’ using the same process as above.

      This won’t remove your CCJ from the public register but it’ll show anyone who checks the register that it’s been paid off or ‘satisfied’. This might make it easier to apply for credit before the CCJ drops off your credit file, six years from the date of the original court judgment.

      I hope that this helps.

      • Ralph

        Not strictly 100% accurate. I was in an IVA and one of my creditors took out a CCJ against me. This was included in the IVA. If this is the case it can be removed by writing to the company concerned, include a copy of your IVA completion certificate with their debt on showing satisfied and they will remove it. At their own cost.

  • billie warwick

    After your IVA and you still need help fixing your credit score due to a default or down with some circumstances.Try to reach out to Hackmania_9@outlookDotCom for assistance on building your credit score or what you need in getting approval for loan.

  • Martin flint

    Hi I entered an Iva 3 years ago and I managed to pay this off 11 months ago with a lump sum will this still have to run the 6 year course or will it be redeemed over next month that would be a year after completion I do have my certificate confirming it’s over ?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Martin,

      Any IVA should stay on your credit file for six years from the date you started. So from what you’ve said it sounds like you’re about halfway through that period.

      If your IVA is finished then your credit history should show that. The easiest way to check is to get a copy of your credit report and see. If it shows that it’s still ongoing you can send a copy of your completion certificate to the credit reference agencies so they can update your record.

      There’s information on how to get a free copy of your credit report here:

      Kind regards


  • Laura

    Hi, I just checked my credit account Iva finished after 5 years, another 1 year for it to come off. Is that the same time “This account has been defaulted” with no balance, comes off my account? As they are flagging red

    • moneyaware

      Hi Laura

      Generally speaking, the default notices are removed around the time your IVA is completed. This does depend on the credit score companies having up-to-date records.

      It’s probably best for you to ask your IVA provider – they’ll have more information about your individual circumstances.

      Kind regards

  • Hoot

    Hi guys, I recently got my final certificate from an IVA that started in 2010. It’s fully paid off and closed. I worked hard on my credit file and paid everything off in full every month. My credit score shows as 999 on Experian and there isn’t a single missed payment as far back as the file goes, I got a vanquis card to rebuild my credit and that as been paid off in full every month too, they increased my credit limit quite a lot since I managed it so well.

    However, I have been turned down by Barclays for finance on a car. I was accepted by Black Horse but not Barclays. The area manager for Barclays has said there is a questionable factor on my credit file from a previous address. She is surprised Black Horse approved me as I should not meet their lending criteria either. It was at this previous address I did the IVA.

    I wrote to Experian and got a paper copy of my file, it is completely clean other than the IVA public record, that is now removed and has been for a few months, I can see this on Experian and Noddle and on the public database.

    In summary my file is perfect from what I can see, can they see something I can’t and is my IVA somehow still affecting the decision? I have checked every aspect of my file and there is no mistakes at all, I cannot explain it.

    Many thanks for reading and your advice!

    • moneyaware

      Hi Hoot

      It does seem a little strange when you’ve worked on your credit score and there are no issues listed at two of the agencies. I’d suggest checking with your IVA provider that they’ve submitted the certificate of completion to all the agencies and to see if they’ve any ideas about any potential issues.

      Other than that, you could:
      a) Ask Barclays to give you more information about why you were turned down – it’s possible there’s an error on your file or something you can challenge
      b) Check Equifax – maybe they’ve got something on your file that’s not showing on Experian and Noddle?
      c) Double-check any credit agreements in joint names – in case a linked debt is affecting you

      I hope this is a help.

      • Hoot

        Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply Jenny.

        I went ahead and signed up to Equifax as that was the only file I hadn’t seen and sure enough there’s an account there that should have been closed in 2010 when my IVA started and hasn’t been. It’s been recording a default ever since. I’ve contacted my IVA provider and sent them the details. They said there’s still 2 weeks left in the period they give to have items removed so we must wait the two weeks to see if it disappears.

        You really helped me out, thank you very much!

      • moneyaware


        Thanks for the update. I’m really pleased to hear you’re getting this sorted out!

        All the best

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