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What is a Debt Relief Order?

A Debt Relief Order is one way of dealing with debts you are struggling to pay back. It allows you to take a break from paying back some kinds of debt for a specific amount of time (usually a year). Once the Debt Relief Order ends, many of the debts included in it will be written off. You can only apply for a Debt Relief Order through an authorised debt advisor who is usually referred to as an ‘approved intermediary’.

What debts can be included in a DRO?

Many types of debt can be included in an Debt Relief Order. Common types of debt included are: Payday loans, Credit cards, Personal loans, Car finance, Bank overdraft, Store cards, Rent arrears, Phone bills, Tax debt, Catalogue accounts, HMRC debt, Mortgage shortfall and Utility debt. Speak with our expert debt team for advice with your debts. 

How do I get a DRO?

You can’t apply for your own Debt Relief Order. Applications can only be made by an authorised debt advisor. You will have to pay the Official Receiver’s fee of £90 in cash when you apply. This fee will not be refunded, even if your application is refused. Some charities will pay the fee on your behalf – your debt advisor here at will be able to tell you more about this.

What happens if my DRO is approved?

Your Debt Relief Order is recorded in the Individual Insolvency Register until 3 months after it is completed. The Official Receiver will contact all the creditors who have been listed in the Debt Relief Order and tell them that you cannot pay your debts, and that the creditors may not take further action against you to recover the money.

 Who can get a DRO?

If you owe less than £20,000, have lived or worked in England or Wales in the last 3 years, have less than £1000 in assets (including any property or vehicles), and have less than £50 left each month after you’ve paid your normal household bills, you may be able to get a Debt Relief Order. You can’t get a Debt Relief Order if you’ve already had a Debt Relief Order in the past 6 years.

 What happens when the DRO is finished?

Once your Debt Relief Order has finished, many of the debts listed in it will be written off. Your Debt Relief Order will be listed on your credit report for 6 years, counted from when the Debt Relief Order began. You can volunteer to keep going with your Debt Relief Order longer than the standard 12 months. This is referred to as a Debt Relief Restrictions Undertaking.


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The Money Advice Service is an impartial service set up by the Government. They provide free debt counselling, debt adjustment and credit information services.

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