Sometimes known as a DRO, find out more information here

A Debt relief order is a debt solution suited to people with little income and few assets.  A debt relief order can help you to write off debt that you’re unable to repay in a reasonable amount of time. A DRO is a legally binding agreement between a customer and their creditors which could see your debt cleared off in 12 months. There are strict qualifying criteria you must meet in order to apply for a debt relief order.

In order to qualify for a DRO you’ll need to meet the following criteria;

  • You live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Or have done business in one of these countries for the last three years
  • Your current qualifying debt balances must not total more than £30,000 (£20,000 in Northern Ireland)
  • You must have no more than £75 left over each month after paying your household bills
  • You’re not a homeowner
  • You can’t own assets more than £2,000 (£1000 in Northern Ireland)
  • You can’t own a vehicle that’s worth more than £2,000 (£1000 in Northern Ireland) (please note vehicles adapted to help you with a physical disability are exempt from this cap.)
  • You must not be subject to any current bankruptcy or IVA proceedings or have already had a DRO approved in the last six years

Please find below an outline of the Risks/Disadvantages, costs and advantages of a Debt Relief Order (DRO):



Before your application is submitted the fee of £90 must be paid in full. The fee can be paid in one lump sum or in instalments over a 6 month period. Once your fee has been paid and your application is submitted you can’t get your money back, even if the DRO is rejected or revoked.



You don’t pay anything towards your debts for 12 months – and after that they will be written off.

Your creditors can’t pursue you for your debts during the 12 month period.

A DRO is a formal debt solution, you don’t need to appear in court.



There are tight income, asset and debt restrictions on who can apply for a DRO.

If your circumstances change, you may still be required to repay your creditors.

Your debt relief order will appear on your credit file for six years. This may affect your ability to get credit in the future.

You can’t promote, manage, or set up a limited company, without permission from court. Also, you can’t act as a company director, without getting permission from court.

Creditor Contact: Your creditors can still contact you to tell you how much you owe but they can’t demand payments from you or start any court action. If they do you should tell them you are on a DRO. If any of your creditors persistently call or threaten you with further action you can contact the DRO unit at the Insolvency Service.

Job: A DRO may affect some jobs if the employment contract specifies that you can’t be insolvent. This is most likely to be an issue in the finance and legal sectors, but other jobs may also be affected.

Cancellation: The official receiver can terminate the DRO if they discover you intentionally misled them in your original application.

It’s your responsibility to inform the official receiver of changes in your circumstances. It’s an offence to give away or hide assets from the official receiver and you must co-operate with the Insolvency Service if they ask you to provide information.



Please find below a list of debts/commitments that can and cannot be included in a DRO.


Can be included:

Loans                                                 Council Tax

Overdrafts                                        Utility and phone bills

Catalogues                                        Benefit overpayments

Credit Cards                                     In-store credit agreements

Rent                                                     Money owed to HM Revenue & Customs  


Debts which can’t be included:

Student loans                                   Social Fund loans

Confiscation orders                         Magistrates’ court fines

Child support and maintenance arrears