Guide to Bankruptcy

Full guidance on what happens when you're made bankrupt.



There’s a different guide if you are a creditor who has applied to bankrupt someone who owes you money

Bankruptcy is one way for individuals to deal with debts they can’t pay. It doesn’t apply to companies or partnerships.

This guide tells you how to apply to be made bankrupt and what happens when the bankruptcy order has been made. Contents include:

  • what bankruptcy means
  • who can be made bankrupt
  • costs
  • the process
  • what happens to your assets
  • payments from your income
  • when your bankruptcy will end
  • cancelling your bankruptcy (annulment)
  • advertising your bankruptcy
  • bankruptcy and transgender
  • how to complain
  • how we use and collect information

Please Note

This guide provides general information only and is not a substitute for professional legal or financial advice.

Every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, but it should not be relied on as a full authoritative statement of the law. The Insolvency Service cannot accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions as result of negligence or otherwise.

Published 15 October 2015
Last updated 21 April 2017 + show all updates
  1. Amendments relating to vehicles owned under finance agreements.
  2. Changed in line with the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016.
  3. Updates to advertising your bankruptcy and cancelling your bankruptcy.
  4. Updated to reflect new fees
  5. Change to what happens to my motor vehicle
  6. Amended to reflect new process for applying to make yourself bankrupt
  7. Correction to section 8.2 Insolvency register on annulment
  8. Updated to reflect statutory fee changes
  9. First published.