Is Bankruptcy Private?

July 22, 2011 by  Filed under: Bankruptcy 

With more and more people considering bankruptcy as the best solution for dealing with their debt, we consider whether the process is private and who could find out if you declare yourself bankrupt.

In the past, one of the drawbacks of bankruptcy for many people was that the procedure was always advertised in the local newspaper.

This meant that anyone glancing through their local newspaper would be able to see immediately if someone living locally to them had been declared bankrupt.

In the majority of cases, bankruptcy is no longer advertised in this way and in this sense it has become more private.

However, in today’s internet age it is important to understand that the details of your bankruptcy are freely available for someone who is interested and knows where to look.

Matter of public record

The fact that you are Bankrupt is a matter of public record.

This means that while you are bankrupt, your details including your name, address, occupation and when you are likely to be discharged are all recorded in a publication called The Insolvency Register.

The Insolvency Register is publically accessible on the Insolvency Service website on the internet. It also includes details of anyone who has an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or Debt Relief Order.

Given that the insolvency register is publically accessible for free, anyone can search on your name and discover whether or not you are currently bankrupt.

After you are discharged from your bankruptcy, within three months your name and details are taken off the Insolvency Register.

Bankruptcy restriction order details

It is possible that the length of your bankruptcy could be extended for longer than 12 months. This may be the case if you have not cooperated with the official receiver or have broken the terms of your original bankruptcy.

This extension of your bankruptcy is called a bankruptcy restriction undertaking (BRU) if you agree to it voluntarily or a bankruptcy restriction order (BRO) if it is ordered by the court.

If you receive a BRU or BRO, this will be highlighted in the insolvency register.

In addition to the standard details such as your name, address and occupation, information will also be made available about why you have been given the extended bankruptcy.

The London Gazette

In addition to the Insolvency Register, details of your bankruptcy are also recorded in the London Gazette. This together with the Belfast Gazette and Edinburgh Gazette is a publication that records all personal and corporate insolvencies.

Your name, address and occupation will be recorded in the Gazette on the issue of the day you are declared bankrupt.

As with the Insolvency Register, the Gazettes are publically accessible on the internet.

However, unlike the insolvency register, archive copies of the Gazette are available. This means that even after you have been discharged from your bankruptcy, anyone can search the Gazette archives and find out that you have been bankrupt in the past.

It is possible that by searching on your name in Google, a link to this Gazette information may be found.

Is anyone specifically told?

Very few people will be specifically told that you have been declared bankrupt.

Of course your creditors and your bank will be informed. In addition if you are renting your landlord will be informed and so will your mortgage company if you have a mortgage.

However, as long as you maintain your rent or mortgage payments this should not cause you any real problems.

No one else will be specifically contacted about your bankruptcy. Your employer and other members of your family are not told unless you have listed them as one of your creditors.

A small price to pay

Because of the changes in the way that bankruptcy is advertised, it could be argued that the process has become more private given that names no longer appear in a local newspaper for anyone to see.

However, your bankruptcy is recorded in the Insolvency Register and the London (Belfast or Edinburgh) Gazette which are all now freely accessibly via the internet.

As such, if someone is interested enough to access these records and search on your name, they are likely to find out that you are bankrupt or have been in the past.

I would therefore suggest that bankruptcy remains a relatively public procedure. However many people will feel that this is a small price to pay in return for most if not all of their debt being written off.

What to do next?

If you are struggling with debt, visit

Our experts are available to speak to you about your debt problem and offer advice and solutions.

Our vibrant online debt forum gives free access to experienced industry experts and others who have suffered with debt problems.

Useful guides, calculators and information are also available designed to help you understand how to manage and resolve debt problems.

James Falla is a debt adviser from in the UK. For more quality and unbiased information on Debt Management Plans, visit our website at

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