The 5 things you need to do before going bankrupt

posted by in Living with debt

UPDATE 5 April 2016: This article was originally published in March 2014. The bankruptcy application process for people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is changing in 2016. Visit our bankruptcy changes page for more information.

Don't get tripped up by a bankruptcy pitfall

Don’t get tripped up by a bankruptcy pitfall

If you’ve made the decision to go bankrupt then it’s important for you to prepare yourself for the big day. It’s also key that you take care of any loose ends that could potentially trip you up.

We want to make sure you take all the right steps before you commit yourself to bankruptcy.

This simple guide will give you a few handy tips to make sure that you’re prepared.

1. Raising the fee

Bankruptcy costs £705 but if you’re in receipt of certain benefits or your income’s under the set threshold then you can apply for a discount of £180 (using form EX160A), reducing the cost to £525. The fee needs to be paid in court on the day of your bankruptcy. It might take you some time to raise the fee yourself or you could consider asking family and friends for help.

(Update July 2016: Bankruptcy fees have changed. You can find the updated bankruptcy fees on our website)

(Update July 2016: you now apply for help court fees by filling in an online form)

If you cannot raise the fee through any other means you may be able to apply for help through a trust fund, from a charitable organisation or your utility provider.

2. Change your bank account

If you’ve got debts with your bank then your account is likely to be closed down when you go bankrupt. We recommend that you open a new bank account before you go bankrupt. Most high street banks will generally have a clause in their terms and conditions stating that your account may be closed down if you go bankrupt.

The only bank that does not have this clause is Barclays. However, if you already have debt with Barclays you could consider approaching a credit union for an account, or even asking a trusted partner, family member or friend if you can have your income paid into their account.

3. Complete your forms

When you go bankrupt you need to complete two bankruptcy forms. The larger form is the Statement of Affairs (6.28) and the smaller form is the Debtor’s Bankruptcy Petition (6.27). Also, if you qualify for the court fee being waived then you will also need to complete the application for a fee remission form (EX160). (Update July 2016: you now apply for help court fees by filling in an online form).

You can find all of these forms as well as guidance notes to help you complete them in our bankruptcy forms blogpost. It’s really important that you take 3 copies of the 6.27 and 6.28 forms when you go to court, so please photocopy them when you’ve completed them. Your bankruptcy cannot be granted without 3 copies of the forms and photocopying in the court on the day can be pricey and stressful.

4. Book your appointment

You need to visit your local County Court to declare your bankruptcy. Not all courts deal with bankruptcy so you can find the details of your local court by putting your postcode into the court finder.

Your search may come up with more than one court but you should use the closest court to you that offers bankruptcy appointments. The only exception to this is if you live in the London area. Most, but not all, boroughs of London use the High Court in central London.

You should call your court to check that this is the right court to use. Make sure you give yourself enough time to have completed the first 3 steps before you book your appointment.

5. Attend your hearing

You should ensure that you arrive in court in plenty of time for your appointment. The process varies at each court so you can find out what this is when you call to book your appointment.

In most cases you will take your forms to the front desk and they will be checked by a court clerk or District Judge. You may have to speak to the Judge but you shouldn’t feel worried about this, it will generally be in a side room in the courts for a short time.

You can take a family member or friend with you but this isn’t necessary as the Judge will mainly want to check that bankruptcy is the best solution for you. The majority of courts will declare your bankruptcy on the day which means you’ll be on your way to getting your debts sorted out. This marks the beginning of your bankruptcy and the start of your debt free future.

To determine if bankruptcy is indeed the best option for you, use our online advice tool Debt Remedy.

Charlotte joined us in 2010, working on Helpline for a year until moving to Advice Plus, where she gives post-appointment support to hundreds of our clients every week. Charlotte loves watching movies, baking, sewing and trying anything crafty – particularly if it involves giving a new lease of life to old/broken things.

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Tags Living with debt
  • Pankaj Syal

    hi i want to ask one thing before i give bankruptcy my wife live with me but she didn’t work but bankruptcy only my name she have any affect to my bankruptcy thanks

    • Hi there Pankaj

      Your wife’s situation should not affect your bankruptcy or vice-versa, but it’s always a good idea to get some free expert debt advice before you petition for bankruptcy. Our online advice tool Debt Remedy can advise you in 20 minutes on your best options moving forward:

      Best regards


    • Pankaj Syal

      Hi I’m apply bankcruptcy 5 month is go but today someone cum to my home about missing payment why he’s come to my home I don’t understnd

      • moneyaware

        Hi Pankaj,

        Thanks for your message. If the person who came to your house was collecting or asking about a debt that was included in your bankruptcy, then the company or creditor might need to be updated that you are now bankrupt.

        Not all debts are included in bankruptcy so if you’re unsure about anything then I’d suggest you get in touch with your
        Official Receiver (OR) to talk to them about this. as they will know the details of your situation.

        I hope this helps.

        Kind regards,

      • Pankaj Syal

        Thanks Laura
        Yes same creditor which one in bankruptcy but from different debt company .

      • moneyaware

        Hi Pankaj,

        From what you’ve said it seems like the debt may have been sold to another company so they’re probably unaware that you have been made bankrupt.

        It’s worth getting in touch with your Official Receiver (OR) to make sure you are both clear on the situation.



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  • Nicola Abraham

    If in an iva for over 8 years can we ask for some of debt to be written off.

  • Darren Kerley Clark

    If I file for bankruptcy will my Wife’s financial affairs have to be considered. I currently owe over £16000. I work full time but I have less than £20 left over each month. I have a DMP with Stepchange at the moment but this barely affordable. My Wife only works part time and we are struggling. I have had this debt or sometime now and I cannot see a better way of dealing with it 🙁

    • moneyaware

      Hello Darren

      Thanks for your comment.

      Sorry to hear that you’re struggling, I’d recommend giving us a call so we can give you new debt advice – there may be other options available to you. Get in touch with us so we can look at your situation with you:

      0300 303 5300 Mon-Fri 8am-6pm

      Bankruptcy may not be the most suitable option for you, but without us doing a new budget with you we can’t recommend a new solution. Bankruptcy has serious implications and because you and your wife are financially linked, it would affect her as well.

      Once your new advice has been given, we can then take you through the benefits and risks of your solution. If a DMP is no longer your best option there may be something more suitable for you so please try not to worry.

      I hope that this helps,


  • Carol Dobbie

    Hi. I declared bankruptcy 3 years ago and was told it would take 6 years before it was discharged. Since then my income is drastically reduced and I’m in debt again. Can I declare bankruptcy again and what are the consequences.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Carol,

      Most people are discharged within 12 months of their bankruptcy. In some circumstances, this time scale can extened using something called a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order. These are relatively rare though, usually, if the court thinks you’ve been irresponsible or dishonestly.

      Bankruptcy stays on your credit file for six years, so it could be that you’ve been discharged but it’s still on your credit history. It would be very hard to get into further difficutly with debt if you were still an undischarged bankrupt because it’s difficult to get credit.

      If you’re not sure if you’ve been discharged or not you could contact the Official Receiver’s office in the court where you went bankrupt.

      It is possible to declare yourself bankrupt for a second time but it’s not something I’d recommend without first getting in depth debt advice. We can help you with this. There’s more information on this page of our main website:

      Kind regards


      • Carol Dobbie

        Thanks James. I will be discharged in March 2019. My debts now are due to changed employment which means I’m on a very low income and debts are council tax and energy bills. I’ve filled out my budget sheets and they show nothing left after essential spending.