Debt Relief Order

A Debt Relief Order is a form of insolvency for citizens of the United Kingdom with a certain amount of acquired debt, little income spare and very few assets. You can apply for a Debt Relief Order if you are unable to pay off your debts.

A Debt Relief Order is granted to you by the Insolvency Service and is a more affordable option to Bankruptcy. A Debt Relief Order will typically last a year during which time there will be no Creditors action taken against you. At the close of the year your debts will be erased.

Debt Relief Orders (DRO) were introduced into the United Kingdom as an alternative to Bankruptcy. They are more expedient and cheaper than a Bankruptcy and are designed for those of us who have low income. Low income coupled with a debt less than £15,000 will qualify you for a Debt Relief Order.

Purpose of a Debt Relief Order

The Debt Relief Order was established to help people who are currently unable to pay off their debts and those who are not likely to ever be able to pay off.

A Debt Relief Order is NOT a Bankruptcy. One of the main differences between the two is that the Official Receiver has no legal claim over your property.

Qualifying for a Debt Relief Order

England and Wales began implementing the system of Debt Relief Orders in April of 2009. In order to qualify for a DRO the following criteria must be met:

  • Disposable income may not exceed £50 a month.
  • Must live in England or Wales.
  • Are unable to pay your debts.
  • Total unsecured liabilities cannot exceed £15,000.
  • Gross assets cannot exceed £300.
  • Must not have a previous Debt Relief Order in the last six years.
  • Cannot be involved in any other insolvency procedure.

Applying for a Debt Relief Order

The Insolvency Service employs Official Receivers; these Official Receivers are the ones responsible for administering Debt Relief Orders.

Applying for a Debt Relief Order can only be done by an Intermediary. The Intermediary is a debt adviser who is authorized by you to fill out all necessary forms and advise you on the Debt Relief Order process. Intermediaries are found at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

You must pay £90 for the application and the fee must also be paid in cash. There are payment options for this fee, however your Debt Relief Order will not be in effect until the fee has been paid in full.

When your application and fee are taken care, the Official Receiver will verify that you have met all requirements and continue your application process.
When you are approved for a Debt Relief Order you are no longer to send payments to those you are indebted. They will be contacted and made aware of your Debt Relief Order protecting you from further action by your Creditors.

Debts included in a Debt Relief Order

Not all debt can be included in a DRO; the list below will provide you with the debts that qualify:

  • Credit cards, overdrafts and loans.
  • Rent, utilities, phone, council tax.
  • Benefit overpayments and social fund loans.
  • Hire purchase or conditional sale agreements.
  • Buy now/Pay later agreements.

In some instances you may be required to return purchased items from loans or seek assistance in paying off these loans. You cannot continue to pay for items purchased once you have a Debt Relief Order.

Debts not included in a DRO

There are a few specific types of debt that will not be included in a Debt Relief Order and will be your responsibility to pay them off separately. The following is a list of debts not included in a Debt Relief Order:

  • Court fines and confiscation orders (fines related to criminal acts).
  • Child support and maintenance.
  • Student loans.

During your Debt Relief Order

While your DRO any Credit Agency of any of these debts will not be permitted to sue you for collection. This Order will be in effect for a year.

During this year you will still be responsible for you other financial obligations such as normal household finances including taxes, electric, gas and water. You are also responsible for any and all debts not listed on your order.

Once your order has been implemented you will not be able to add additional debt that you neglected to add originally, however if new debts are acquired during your order you can inform your Official Receiver.

If at any time you are unable to make a payment or are forced into an unforeseeable situation you must contact your Official Receiver immediately.


  • How many people are eligible for Debt Relief Orders?
    About 11% of all bankruptcies have qualified for a Debt Relief Order.
  • Are there synonyms for a Debt Relief Order?
    There are no other names for a Debt Relief Order, it is abbreviated as DRO.
  • What type of person is typically suited for a Debt Relief Order?
    Those people with low liabilities, little income and very few assets that are unable to pay off their debts in the foreseeable future.

We encourage you to seek professional advice if you would like to apply for a DRO. A Debt Relief Order has implications, make sure you understand DRO clearly before applying. You can start seeking professional help from registered charities.

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