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At a glance: Find out when it is possible to write off debt.
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This summary is not relevant in England and Wales
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Can debt be written off?

In some cases you may be able to get debt written off. However, most creditors will not want to do this. Instead, they will try to find ways to collect the money you owe them.  

Although a debt write-off is not easy to get, it is possible and has benefits: 

  • You are released from the burden of the debt. 
  • Recovery action stops. 
  • Your stress and anxiety may reduce and you can make a fresh start. 

To get a debt written off you have to convince a creditor that it is in their best interest as well as in yours. Usually, this means showing them there is no likelihood of them getting enough money back to make it worth trying to get you to pay the debt. 

How can I show that I can’t pay a debt?

Creditors may realise they have little chance of recovering their debts in particular situations such as: 

  • You rent your home, have no surplus income after paying for basic needs, no savings and no assets you could sell. 
  • You have a serious illness or a disability, which means you have little chance of working. 
  • You are getting benefit income only and need support from a regular carer because you cannot manage on your own. 
  • You are a pensioner, or you are nearing retirement age, you are on benefit income and likely to remain on a limited income. 
  • Other creditors have agreed to write their debts off. 
  • The person owing the debt has died without leaving any property, money or other assets. 

If any of these situations apply, provide evidence to your creditor. For example, if you are ill and unable to work, you could ask your doctor to write a letter to your creditors. 

Partial write-off

If the creditor will not write off the full debt, they may agree to a reduced payment, with the rest of the balance written off.

Effects of a write-off

Writing off your debt will probably reduce your ability to get credit for up to six years.

Are there other ways to clear debt?

If your creditors do not agree to write off your debts, you can consider other ways to clear them. These include negotiating to make reduced payments to your creditors, to formal options such as bankruptcy.

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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