Debt Relief Orders


A Debt Relief Order (DRO) is a formal insolvency procedure for people who cannot pay their debts. It is appropriate for those who have few assets, low income and no other access to debt relief.

Applying for a DRO

DROs involve a partnership between the Insolvency Service and professional debt advice organisations whose advisers can act as an 'approved intermediary'.

The approved intermediary can decide whether you are eligible for a DRO. They can then help you complete your DRO application. The official receiver (OR) will then consider the application. A fee of £90 is payable in cash before the application will be considered. For further information see DRO guidance from the Department for the Economy (DfE).

Eligibility for a DRO

To apply for a DRO you must:

  • be unable to pay your debts
  • not have debts more than £20,000
  • not have total gross assets more than £1,000
  • not have income after living expenses of more than £50 per month
  • live in Northern Ireland, or at any time in the past 3 years been resident or carrying on a business here
  • not have had a DRO within the last 6 years
  • not be involved in any other formal insolvency procedure at the time of the application

How long does a DRO last?

The DRO places a moratorium on the debts included in it. This means creditors can't ask for repayment of debts during the moratorium without permission from the Court. Once the moratorium has ended (usually 12 months) you will be free from those debts.

DRO restrictions

You will be subject to the same restrictions as a bankrupt during the DRO period. Your name will not be published in any newspaper but it will be entered in a register maintained by the OR.

Search DfE's DRO and BRO Register.