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At a glance: Write off debts of up to £30,000 to make a fresh start.
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This summary covers England and Wales
To view information that covers Scotland, please click here.

What is a Debt Relief Order?

A Debt Relief Order (DRO) stops most creditors from taking further action against you for 12 months. It is for personal debts of up to £30,000 that you cannot pay. 

For debts included in a DRO, during this time:  

  • you will not pay back what you owe 
  • interest and charges will stop being added to your debts 
  • you will not have to deal with the people you owe money to. 

These protections will stay in place if you continue to meet DRO qualifying rules during the 12-month period. If your finances do not get better after the 12 months the debt will be written off. 

Do I qualify for a Debt Relief Order?

To qualify for a DRO, you must: 

  • be unable to pay your debts 
  • owe less than £30,000 in total 
  • have savings or valuable items worth less than £2,000 in total 
  • own a vehicle worth less than £2,000 (if you were to sell it today) 
  • have £75 a month or less at the end of the month to make your debt repayments 
  • have lived or worked in England and Wales in the last 3 years 
  • have not had a DRO in the last 6 years. 

What debts can I include?

You can include most types of debt in your application. The total of your debts can be no more than the £30,000 limit.  

Debts that can be included in a DRO are called ‘qualifying debts’. 

They include: 

  • credit cards 
  • overdrafts and loans 
  • rent arrears and utilities (gas, electricity, telephone) 
  • council tax and income tax 
  • buy now, pay later agreements 
  • benefit overpayments 
  • debts to friends and family. 

Once your DRO is approved, you will usually no longer have to pay the debts (and interest) listed in the DRO anymore. 

What debts do I still need to pay?

There are some types of debts that cannot be included in a DRO.  

You’ll still have to pay: 

  • child maintenance or anything you owe under family proceedings 
  • student loans 
  • budgeting and crisis loans from the Social Fund 
  • debts secured against any possessions you own 
  • damages or fines a court has ordered you to pay 
  • unpaid TV licence fees 

Applying for a Debt Relief Order

You must contact an approved debt advice provider, like us, to apply for a DRO. It is free to get help and speak with a debt adviser. 

If you think that a DRO is the best option for you, contact us for more advice. If we agree that it is suitable for you, we can explain how to apply. 

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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