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At a glance: How to apply for bankruptcy if you live outside the UK.
Reading time: 2 mins
This summary covers England and Wales
To view information that covers Scotland, please click here.

Bankruptcy is a way of dealing with debts you cannot pay. If you live outside the UK, you may be able to go bankrupt in England or Wales. You cannot go bankrupt in England or Wales if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Do I qualify?

When you apply for bankruptcy, your application is decided by the adjudicator. They may make the bankruptcy order if you mainly live or work in England or Wales.  

If you do not live and work in England or Wales, you may still be able to go bankrupt if: 

  • You live and work in an EU member state (except Denmark) and you have carried on business in England or Wales in the previous three months. 
  • You have had a business or a home in England or Wales in the three years before you apply.  
  • You are domiciled in England or Wales. Domiciled is a legal term. You may be domiciled in England or Wales even if you have lived abroad for many years.

How to apply

You can apply to go bankrupt online at www.gov.uk/bankruptcy. It costs £680. If your application is unsuccessful, you will be refunded £550 of the fee. 
The adjudicator usually decides whether you can go bankrupt within 28 days. You do not have to go to a court hearing. 

If the adjudicator does not make a bankruptcy order, they will write to you explaining why. You can ask for a review. You must give reasons for asking, but the adjudicator can only consider the information in your application. You cannot give them new information.  

You can appeal to the court against the adjudicator’s final decision after a review.

After bankruptcy

The official receiver manages your bankruptcy. They will ask you for further information. You may be asked to fill in forms or attend an interview.  

A trustee takes control of your assets and contacts your creditors. The trustee is the official receiver or another bankruptcy specialist.

How your bankruptcy is viewed abroad

A bankruptcy order granted in England and Wales is not always recognised abroad. 

If you go bankrupt in England or Wales and live or move abroad:  

  • All your ‘qualifying creditors’ in the world are included. A qualifying creditor is someone you owe money to in the bankruptcy. They cannot try to recover the money in England or Wales.  
  • Your creditors may take action against you in the country where you now live if the bankruptcy is not recognised in that country.  
  • You may need to apply to a local court to have your bankruptcy recognised in that country.

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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