How to Get Debts Written Off

If you can’t pay your bills as and when they fall due, you might be wondering how to write off debts. Creditors are unlikely to simply cancel debts if they believe you could pay back the money you owe in the future, but there are legal means that can help anyone struggling financially.

From individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) to debt relief orders, an insolvency advisor can help you find a way to write off debts. In extreme scenarios, such as those relating to mental health issues or long-term illnesses, creditors might even consider writing off your debt out of hand.

In this article, we explain how to write off debts.

How to Write Off a Debt

Writing off debt is never easy. After all, no creditor wants to lose out on money owed to them. If you’re struggling to pay your bills and your creditors are chasing you for payment or even threatening legal action, then you can consider certain insolvency procedures as a means to write off some or all of your debt.

The standard options available to insolvent individuals include:

Individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs)

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a formal agreement between you and your creditors, which allows you to consolidate debts and renegotiate terms. As part of an IVA, a creditor may agree to wipe out some of your debt. At the end of the IVA’s term (usually five years), any remaining debts are also written off.

Debt relief orders

Debt relief orders are court-sanctioned order that freezes repayments for a 12-month period. At the end of this term, many of your debts might be written off if you can’t pay them back.


If you cannot pay your debts, it’s possible to declare bankruptcy. At the end of your bankruptcy period (usually 12 months), any major debts will be wiped out. However, not all debts (including court-ordered fines and student loans, for example) are wiped out, and you could lose your house and other high-value assets in the process.

How Long Before a Debt Is Written Off in the UK?

What happens if you simply refuse to pay your debt? In this case, you might be wondering how long before a debt is written off in the UK.

We’ll start by saying that waiting for a debt to be written off is not the best course of action. There is a statute of limitations on debts, and this is set at six years for unsecured debts (including things like credit cards and payday loans) and 12 years for secured debts (things like mortgages and car loans).

The statute of limitations means that your debt can be written off after 6 or 12 years, but only if your creditor has failed to contact you and hasn’t taken legal action to recoup the money you owe them. In the unlikely event that this does happen, you can apply to the courts to have your debt written off once it’s reached the limitation period.

How to Write Off Debt Without Affecting Your Credit Score

The only way to write off your debt without it affecting your credit score is for the debt to expire due to the statute of limitations, or for you to arrange directly with your creditor for the debt to be written off.

If your debt is written off as a result of you pursuing insolvency procedures and, as a result, you fail to pay back the full amount, then this is noted on your credit score for six years. The same applies if you miss payments or have not paid back the debt in full for any other reason.

In certain circumstances, creditors might be willing to write off debt if they understand they’re never going to see the money repaid. The list of valid reasons for this type of write-off is limited, but typically includes:

  • You are suffering from diagnosed mental health problems.
  • You are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • You have zero assets and zero disposable income available.
  • You are living off a pension and have limited income.
  • The debt has passed to another person after death.

Contact Irwin Insolvency Today for More Advice on How to Write Off Debts

If you need further advice on how to write off a debt, Irwin Insolvency is here to help. Our team of experienced insolvency practitioners can provide expert assistance when you’re struggling to pay bills, and we’re happy to negotiate debt write-offs with your creditors – from debt management plans to offering expert debt advice.

Contact Irwin Insolvency today to find out more.

Contact Irwin Insolvency today for your free consultation

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0800 254 5122

About the author

Gerald Irwin

Gerald Irwin is founder and director of Sutton Coldfield-based licensed insolvency practitioners and business advisers, Irwin Insolvency. He specialises in corporate recovery, insolvency,
 rescue and turnaround.