Debt Relief Order

Debt Relief Order UK

It might not feel like you have many options when you’re struggling under the weight of debts you can’t repay, but you do. If you’ve found yourself in inescapable financial difficulties and have nothing like disposable income or assets to offer creditors, then a debt relief order can come to your rescue! DROs are one of the best debt solutions that can give you a fresh start from unmanageable debt. In this ultimate debt relief order guide, we’ll explore what a debt relief order is, how it works in the UK, and whether you should get one. You’ll also get to know what is covered in a debt relief order, its costs, pros, and cons, and whether you qualify for it. You’ll also discover why Reform Debt Solutions, which provides access to some of the best debt solution providers in the UK for Debt Management Plans and Debt Consolidation, is a great partner when applying to get a debt relief order too.

What is a Debt Relief Order?

debt relief order (DRO) is a personal debt solution option within the statutory framework of the United Kingdom. It’s available to individuals who meet the specified criteria. DROs were developed and introduced in 2009 after a government consultation. The consultation shed light on the long-term debt difficulties people with nothing to offer creditors face and how bankruptcy would be disproportionate.

DRO’s are delivered in partnership with the debt advice sector. They can give you easy access to low-cost debt relief if you have low levels of unmanageable debt and no means to pay creditors. It’s one of the best debt solutions for people in financial distress and was designed to provide a better option for managing multiple debts and over-indebtedness.

Debt relief orders don’t involve the courts. They’re made under a partnership with skilled debt advisers like those on our panel at Reform Debt Solutions and the Insolvency Service. Reform Debt Solutions are approved intermediaries, and the insolvency practitioners we will introduce you to can help you apply to the Insolvency Service for a DRO.

How Does A Debt Relief Order Work?

debt relief order (DRO) will freeze your debt repayments and interest for 12 months. During this time, your situation is continually assessed. Under a DRO, if your financial situation hasn’t changed after the 12-month moratorium, the debts included within the order are discharged or written off. This means you no longer have to pay them, and you get a fresh start.

However, if your circumstances change in the 12 months, your debt relief order can be revoked or cancelled, and you’ll have to start repaying creditors.  This can include getting a better job, a pay rise, or acquiring a windfall of over £1,850. You should also note that if you obtained any of your debts through fraud, you’d have to restart paying them when the DRO period ends.

You should never lie or hide the truth about any aspect of your debts, income, or assets when you apply for a debt relief order. It’s a criminal offence to deliberately leave out information or knowingly put incorrect information, and you can be prosecuted, fined, or imprisoned. When you apply for a DRO via, the insolvency practitioners we connect you with will help you assess your debts, income, and belongings to ensure you meet the criteria in each of these areas before applying.

Apply for a Debt Relief Order – What Happens After?

Once you’re successful in your DRO application, the official receiver will:

  • Send you a notice saying that the DRO has been made and outlining all the restrictions and duties imposed on you while it is in force.
  • Send a notice of the debt relief order to all creditors owed a debt that the DRO covers.
  • Add an entry to the Electronic Individual Insolvency Register (EIIR) that shows your details and the fact that a DRO has been made.

During the DRO period, and for three months afterwards, your details will appear in the Insolvency Service’s Individual Insolvency Register, and this can be viewed by anyone. If having your address in the register can lead to violence against you or members of your family, you’ll need to ask the court to have your address omitted. Debt Management Professionals can help access the right professionals to assist you to apply for a court order before applying for your DRO, so your address doesn’t appear on the register. You’ll also not be able to apply for another debt relief order for six years from the date your DRO is approved.

Debt Relief Order Criteria – Is it For You?

DROs are suitable for you if you have little or no disposable income, less than £1,000 worth of ‘assets,’ and don’t owe more than £30,000 in debt. Clothes and regular household possessions are not included as assets, and the assets are valued at their second-hand value. A debt relief order is an excellent option if you’re experiencing financial hardship and have little hope of repaying your debts. It’s a better and cheaper form of insolvency than bankruptcy. Although both can help you write off debts when you’re unable to repay them, bankruptcy comes with profound implications you shouldn’t take lightly. While both are last-resort options, a DRO is the opposite of bankruptcy in many ways.

Under bankruptcy, an official receiver gains control of your assets and finances for 12 months.  Once it begins, the official receiver legally owns your assets, and they can sell them to repay your debts. They’ll also gain control of your finances and can organize repayments based on what you can afford each month.  In contrast, rather than use your finances and assets to repay debts, a debt relief order freezes your repayments and debts. You’ll also remain in control of your finances, incur fewer costs, and your debts can be written off after 12 months.

A DRO can provide a way out of debt and get creditors off your back for a year, which translates to less stress. Creditors can’t demand payment, send debt collectors to your home, or take you to court during the debt relief order period.  You can also report any creditors who continue to hassle you and force you to pay off the debts. By applying through Reform Defbt Solutions, you’ll get a quick way to find out if a DRO is the best option for you and an opportunity to compare a debt relief order with other debt solutions.

DRO Example of the Best Debt Solutions

DRO Provider Cost Maximum Debt Decision Time
Insolvency Service £90 £30,000 10 Working Days

What Is Covered With A Debt Relief Order?

The debts you can include in a debt relief order are called qualifying debts. Creditors can’t ask you for payments during the DRO period, and you don’t have to pay them even if they do.

Debts included Debts Excluded
Credit cards Student loans
Loans Social fund loans
Overdrafts Child support and maintenance
Rent Arrears Magistrates court fines
Telephone bills Compensation for injury or death
Income tax Confiscation orders
Council tax Unpaid TV license fees
Benefits overpayments Debts secured against assets you own
Conditional sale agreements Debts incurred after the DRO is granted
Hire purchase
Buy now pay later agreements
Bills for services like solicitors or vets
Debts you owe family or friends
Business debts

You should note that if you obtained any of the included debts through fraud, you’d still have to pay for them when the DRO ends.

The excluded debts will not be counted towards the £30,000 limit. You can consult with the expert advisers we will connect you with at Reform Debt Solutions if you’re unsure about whether a debt should be covered by a debt relief order. It’s also vital that you inform Reform Debt Solutions about all your debts during the application. Once you forget to include any debts in your DRO, you can’t add them later. In addition, in case any missed debts could have taken you over the £30,000 limit, then your debt relief order can be cancelled or revoked.

Payments You Must Keep Making During The Debt Relief Order Period

Although you don’t have to make any payments to the debts listed in your DRO order, there are some exemptions:

  • You still have to make payments to your landlord for rent arrears. The debt relief order can’t stop your landlord from taking possession action against you, like evicting you. Therefore, if you want to stay on the property, you must continue paying any arrears after the debt relief order is made.
  • You must also continue making payments to enforcement agents or bailiffs if they’ve taken control of your goods and belongings through a controlled goods agreement. The debt relief order won’t stop them from taking your belongings and selling them, and if you don’t want to lose them, you’ll have to keep paying the debt.

You’re also responsible for covering your regular household expenses during the debt relief order period, including ongoing rent, gas and electricity bills, and water charges.

Costs Of A Debt Relief Order

To apply for a debt relief order in the UK, you must pay a non-refundable fee of £90 to the Insolvency Service. There are no exemptions, and the amount must be paid in cash at a post office or Payzone outlet or via your insolvency practitioner. You can pay it in one go or through instalments over six months. Note that the Official Receiver will not consider your application until you’ve finished paying the total amount.  Even if your application is turned down, you won’t get your money back. Therefore, you must ensure you’re eligible before you pay the fee.

At Reform Debt Solutions, we’ll connect you with an insolvency practitioner who will ensure you’re on the right track by assessing your debts, income, and belongings for eligibility. They will also help you find your nearest Payzone outlet for enhanced convenience. When you work through Reform Debt Solutions you can also get advice on trusts and charities that can help you pay the debt relief order fee if you cannot afford it by yourself.

Debt Relief Order Pros And Cons

Pros Cons
Debt Relief Orders are low-cost debt solutions debt relief order will stay in your credit record for six years, and this can make it difficult to credit in future
You won’t pay anything towards your debts for12 months You may have to return goods if any of the debts are for goods bought on hire purchase
Creditors can’t pursue you for debts in the one year, send debt collectors, or take you to court to deem you bankrupt Your tenancy agreement can be affected. Reform Debt Solutions can help you check this
Does not involve a court process, although it’s a formal debt solution Your bank account may be closed, and you may have to open a new one
Your debts can be written off after 12 months It will end the power of attorney you hold over someone else’s financial affairs or the one someone else has for you
You only pay for a debt relief order once and don’t have to pay anything every month If might affect your British citizenship applications
debt relief order can also risk particular employment sectors like the financial services industry, where employees face insolvency restrictions.
The debt relief order only covers your personal liability to debts. It doesn’t protect anyone else in liabilities to debts you owe, such as joint debts or guarantors.
There are strict income, debt, and asset restrictions on applying and getting a debt relief order.

Debt Relief Order Restrictions

During the debt relief order period, you’ll also face certain restrictions or rules that you must follow. You be restricted from:

  • Acting as a director for a company.
  • Borrowing over £500 without informing your lender about your debt relief order, whether you’re borrowing alone or with someone else.
  • Creating, managing, or promoting a company without permission from the courts.
  • Managing a business with a different name without telling people you’re in business with about your debt relief order.
  • Writing cheques that are likely to bounce.
  • Applying for an overdraft without telling your building society or bank about your debt relief order.

Citizens Advice Debt Relief Order

Note that it’s a criminal offence to break the restrictions, and you can be prosecuted if you do. Suppose the Official Reciever finds out you’ve been dishonest in your application or have violated any of the restrictions when applying or when the DRO is in force. In that case, they can ask the courts to make a debt relief restrictions order (DRRO) against you. A DRRO may also be made if it’s believed that you made your debt situation worse before applying for a debt relief order.

Reasons for a DRRO can include;

  • Taking on debts when you had no chance of repaying them.
  • Giving away valuable belongings or selling them at less than their value.
  • Paying off some creditors in preference to others.
  • Committing fraud.
  • Not cooperating with the official receiver.
  • Continuing a business when you know you can’t pay back the debts.
  • Not telling the official receiver about assets you have when making the debt relief order application or others you gained during the DRO period.

Once a court makes a DRRO, the restrictions you have to follow during the DRO period will be extended for up to 15 years. If you fail to follow them, you’ll be committing an offence and can be sent to prison or fined.

Do You Qualify For A Debt Relief Order?

For your debt relief order application to be considered by the Official Reciever, you’ll have to meet the following criteria;

  • You’re insolvent, meaning you can’t make your contracted payments or repay your debts after your living costs and essential expenditure have been accounted for. Reform Debt Solutions will help you determine whether this is the case or not.
  • Your qualifying debts do not exceed £30,000.
  • After you’ve paid your usual household expenses, you don’t have more than £75 leftover each month.
  • You don’t own your home.
  • Your assets or other savings are not worth more than £2,000. Remember that some assets will be ignored when working out the value, such as the tools you need to do your job or essential household items.
  • Six years have passed since your last debt relief order was made. You’re also not going through another formal insolvency procedure like an individual voluntary agreement (IVA) or bankruptcy.
  • You also need to have lived, had property, or worked in England or Wales in the last three years.

You’ll also be required to inform your debt relief order adviser, like Debt Management Professionals, if in the previous two years you’ve;

  • Sold any of your assets for less than their value, like selling a car worth £4,000 to a friend for £500.
  • Given away assets.
  • Paid back one creditor as a priority over others. For example, you may have paid off a debt you owed a friend and didn’t pay other creditors.

The Official Reciever will look at the facts of your case before they make a final decision. If any of the above apply to you, your debt relief order application may be refused.


How Do I Get A Debt Relief Order?

Once you decide you want to make a debt relief order, follow these three easy steps to apply:

Step 1 – Visit

You can only apply for a debt relief order through a specialist DRO adviser like the ones we can connect you to at Reform Debt Solutions.  At, we connect the overindebted with skilled debt advisers with permission to fill the forms and apply to the Insolvency Service, which deals with all DROs. The experts in the field will give you advice on DROs, check that a debt relief order is proper for you and whether you’re eligible to apply.

Step 2 – Work With Reform Debt Solutions To Make Your DRO Application

The debt professionals ready to assist you will help you determine whether you’re eligible to get a debt relief order and whether it’s right for you. This includes how it might affect your credit rating, work, and lifestyle. The process when applying through Reform Debt Solutions involves filling out an application and working out your income and debts. You must be honest and provide all the information accurately.  Lying on your DRO application can have dire consequences such as prosecution, jail terms, or fines and extending the restrictions under your debt relief order for up to 15 years.

Once the application is completed, it will be sent to the official receiver at the Insolvency Service. They’re responsible for deciding about the application and dealing with your debt relief order if it goes ahead.

Step 3 – Pay The Fee And Await Decision

The Insolvency Service charges a £90 fee for a debt relief order application, and it’s the only fee you’ll pay when applying through Reform Debt Solutions. You can make this in instalments or at once, and it must be paid in cash at a Payzone outlet or post office. Once you’ve paid and your application has been received, one of the following decisions will be made by the official receiver within ten working days:

  • The debt relief order will be made if the application is filled in correctly and you’re eligible.
  • The debt relief order may be deferred if more information is needed to make a decision.
  • The order request is refused or denied if you’ve given false information or you’re not eligible.

Ensure you cooperate with the official receiver once you’ve applied to get a debt relief order. Answer all questions they ask truthfully and provide any further information they might ask for. You’ll get written reasons why the application is refused if it’s turned down. Only a small number of debt relief order applications are rejected, less than 1%.

Can I Challenge A Refused Debt Relief Order UK Application?

If you believe the decision on your debt relief order application is wrong or unfair, you’re legally allowed to ask the court to make a decision on whether it should be changed. However, it’s wise to first ask the official receiver to reconsider their decision before asking the court. They’ll go over your application again to check if the original decision was correct. Such a request can be made for any reason, but you’re more likely to succeed if you can show:

  • You met all the criteria.
  • You cooperated with the official receiver and provided more information when requested.
  • You were completely honest in your application.

If you made your application through and have grounds to challenge the decision, you can get assistance writing to the official receiver asking that the decision be reconsidered. In the letter, it will be set out why you think they should change the decision and include all the available evidence to support your case. Reform Debt Solutions will also help you decide whether going to court is the best course of action for you.

Will A Debt Relief Order Impact My Credit Rating?

Your credit rating will be affected if you get a debt relief order or you’ve had one in the past. A note of your DRO stays in your credit file for six years after the date the DRO is made. This means it can be a while before you can get credit in the future. Your credit reference file will show that you took out a debt relief order. This can reduce your chances of getting credit from some lenders because it shows you’ve struggled to make repayments in the past. A lender may change their mind about offering your credit once they see a debt relief order registered on your credit file. It may also be challenging to open a new bank account when the debt relief order is still active and some months after it has ended.

You’ll also have limited options for getting a new home when you have a debt relief order. Many letting agencies and private landlords in the UK insist on credit checks when applying for a tenancy. They may turn you down or charge higher fees. Reform Debt Solutions can help you find different debt solutions if you’re not comfortable with how a debt relief order can affect your credit rating.

How Will My Debt, Income, and Belongings Be Assessed For A Debt Relief Order?

To assess income, Reform Debt Solutions will put you in touch with practitioners who will determine how much extra income you have by checking all the money that comes into your household. This will usually include;

  • Your wages and salary
  • Benefits from welfare like support allowance, jobseekers allowance, and employment allowance. The amounts from disability living allowance can be automatically counted as necessary spending.
  • Any pension income.
  • Any contributions that other people like family members make to your household expenses.
  • Any rental income.

You can deduct a reasonable amount for your household expenses. If the figure left over is £75 or less each month, then you can apply for a debt relief order provided you meet the other requirements.

To assess your debts when applying through Reform Debt Solutions all your debts will be added up, including;

  • Amounts you owe on credit agreements like loans or credit cards.
  • Utility arrears and income tax.
  • Rent arrears.
  • Benefit overpayments.
  • Hire purchase payment arrears.

If the total of all these debts amounts to £30,000 or lower, you can apply for a debt relief order provided you meet the other requirements. The total amount of joint debts must also be included in the application, and they’ll count towards the limit. However, you’ll be the only one released from the debt’s responsibility after the debt relief order period. The other party can still be pursued by creditors for the debt.

To assess your belongings or assets, we’ll add up your cash, savings, or money in the bank and shares. It can also include money you’re owed unless it’s impossible to get the money back. Most items you own can also be included as assets, including;

  • Jewellery excluding wedding rings.
  • Antiques.
  • Land or buildings.
  • Other valuable items like mobile phones.

If your belongings or assets add up to more than £2,000, then you’ll not be able to get a debt relief order. Assets that will be assessed will not include household equipment like clothing, bedding, or furniture. Unless you can access it right now, your pension fund will also be excluded. Items and tools you use in your business or job will not be counted. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t qualify because of any aspect of your assets, income, or debts. There are other debt solutions at

Will My Vehicle Be Counted As An Asset When Applying For A Debt Relief Order?

Your van, car, or motorbike can be excluded as an asset if;

  • You’ve adapted it because of a disability.
  • It’s not worth more than £2,000.

Note that only one vehicle will be excluded. You also have to be driving it for personal use sometimes and not just for business. If you’re still paying for your car on a conditional sale agreement or hire purchase, it will not count as an asset. Some contracts include clauses that let lenders repossess the vehicle and terminate the agreement when you enter any formal insolvency agreement like a DRO. When you apply to get a debt relief order through Reform Debt Solutions, the appropriate practitioners will help you figure out if getting a DRO will mean losing your vehicle.

How Will I Know That My DRO Period Has Ended?

No official communication or notice will be made telling you your debt relief period has ended. You can check your entry and end date on the register of the Insolvency Service at if you can’t remember when your debt relief order ends.

How Can I Prove That My Debt Relief Period Has Ended?

You’re allowed to print a copy of your entry in the Insolvency Services register if you want to prove that your debt relief order has ended. It will show the end date of your debt relief order period. Note that you’ll only have three months after the debt relief order period has ended to print off your copy of the entry. After three months, the entry is removed from the register.

What Should I Do If Creditors Are Still Contacting Me During The DRO Period?

debt relief order is legally binding, and all creditors for debts listed in your DRO are not allowed to chase you for debts covered. You’re also not allowed to make payments towards the debts unless it’s a controlled goods agreement debt or rent arrears. If they still contact you asking for payment, politely remind them that the debt is included in a DRO. Then send them a copy of the debt relief order and avoid getting drawn into any discussion of the debt.

What Should I Do If Creditors Don’t Accept My DRO Has Ended?

If creditors try to collect debts listed in your debt relief order after the debt relief order period has ended, challenge them and don’t pay anything. Send them a copy of your entry from the Insolvency Service Register, or if you don’t have one ask them to contact the Insolvency Service’s DRO Team. You can also get in touch with one of our advisers at, and we’ll ensure you’re transferred to the right people to help you resolve this.

What Should I Do If I Forgot To Include A Debt In My Debt Relief Order Application?

If you discover that you forgot to include a debt in your debt relief order application, you must inform the official receiver as soon as you realize the mistake. Failing to report will be committing an offence. Your DRO can be halted, or a debt relief restrictions order (DRRO) can be applied to you.