How to get a Debt Relief Order in Northern Ireland

April 12, 2018

If you live in Northern Ireland and are struggling with problem debts you may be considering applying for a Debt Relief Order (DRO). Often known as a ‘mini bankruptcy’, as long as you meet certain criteria, a DRO will freeze your debts for a year, after which they will be written off.

Am I eligible for a Debt Relief Order?

If you meet the below criteria you may be eligible for a DRO:

  • Your debt totals less than £20,000
  • You have less than £50 left over each month after you’ve paid your priority household bills
  • You don’t own your home
  • Your assets, such as savings or things of value that you own, don’t amount to more than £1,000. You also must not own a car worth more than £1,000 (unless it has been specially adapted to cater for a disability)
  • You have lived, owned a property or worked in England, Wales or Northern Ireland in the last 3 years
  • You are not undergoing another debt procedure such as an IVA or bankruptcy and haven’t had a previous DRO in the last 6 years

How to get a Debt Relief Order in Northern Ireland

DROs must be arranged through a specialist DRO adviser, also known as an ‘approved intermediary’. They will apply to the official receiver through the Northern Ireland Insolvency Service on your behalf. Your DRO adviser will be able to check your eligibility for a DRO and will be able to complete the application forms for you.

You can find a DRO adviser through any of the Citizens Advice Bureaus in Northern Ireland, or contact any of the ‘competent authorities’ approved by the Northern Ireland Insolvency Service.

How to make a Debt Relief Order application in Northern Ireland

Once you have found a DRO adviser, you will work with them to make your official DRO application. This will include working out:

  • How much you owe to each of your creditors and the total amount of your debt
  • Your total income including any; salary or wages, welfare benefits, pension income, rental income and any other contributions that are made to your household expenses, for example from family members
  • Your priority outgoings such as rent, utility bills, rates, insurance policies and other household expenses such as food

The value of your assets. This refers to any savings or belongings of value such as vehicles, shares, antiques, jewellery (excluding wedding rings), property and mobile phones etc. Assets don’t include household equipment such as furniture, clothing and bedding, any tools that you need for your business or most kinds of pension funds.

If the total amount of your debt is less than £20,000, your disposable income is less than £50 once the cost of your priority outgoings has been deducted, and the value of your assets is less than £1,000 you should be eligible for a DRO.

It is important to be completely honest with your DRO adviser and give them all of the information that they need. If not your DRO may be refused and you may have certain restrictions such as a Debt Relief Restrictions Order imposed upon you, which could last for up to 15 years.


How much does a Debt Relief Order cost?

Once you have completed your DRO application you must pay a £90 fee to submit it. If you cannot afford to pay this upfront you may be able to pay it in instalments over 6 months, or there may be some charities that can provide you with a grant to cover this. Your DRO adviser will give you a letter with a unique barcode which you can use to pay the fee at any Post Office or Payzone outlet.

If your DRO application is turned down, your fee will not be refunded.


When will my Debt Relief Order be granted?

Once you have submitted your application, the official receiver at the Northern Ireland Insolvency Service will assess your application and either:

  • Grant your DRO – upon which all of the debts that you included in your application will be frozen and your creditors will no longer be able to chase you for payment. A year after your DRO has been granted you will be officially released from the DRO and your debt will be written off
  • Defer the decision – if the official receiver needs to contact you for more information before they decide whether or not to grant the DRO
  • Refuse the DRO – if you are not eligible or the official receiver believes, or can prove, that you have given false information in your application

What if your Debt Relief Order is refused or you are not eligible?

Don’t panic, there may still be a number of options open to you to deal with your debt problems. The experts at Northern Ireland Debt Solutions are vastly experienced in helping residents of Northern Ireland to arrange Debt Management Plans, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or Bankruptcy. Contact us today and we will take the time to get to know you and your circumstances before suggesting the best course of action.

Contact Northern Ireland Debt Solutions on 0800 470 0461 today.

Lawrence O'Hara

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 028 2132 6269

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