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Completing your DRO application

This solution is available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

If we’ve recommended a debt relief order (DRO) for you, it’s because this is the best way to deal with your debts based on the amount of money you’ve got coming in each month and after all of your household costs are covered.

Applying for a debt relief order can seem like a daunting process, but please don't worry. We're here to help you get your DRO up and running as soon as possible. 

On this page you’ll find…

path iconA step by step guide on the information we need you to provide in order to process your debt relief order. 

envelope iconInformation on how to submit your evidence and documents to us, either by post or by email.  

clock iconA timeline that tells you what you can expect over the course of your DRO application from how and when to pay your DRO processing fee to when the Insolvency Service is likely to approve your DRO. 

Don’t forget…

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What do I need to do in order to activate my DRO?

  • Step 1 - Send us the information that we asked for in the email we sent you. Take a look at the section above to find out what evidence and documents we need from you. We can't process your DRO until you submit all of the information we've asked for.
  • Step 2 - Once we have your information, we’ll check it against the information we have. We can then make sure a DRO is the best solution for your circumstances. We won't send a confirmation that we've received your information. You'll only hear from us if we need more information from you.
  • Step 3 - Once we've confirmed that a DRO is the best option for you, we will prepare your application through the Insolvency Service application system.
  • Step 4 - It usually takes around eight weeks to process all of your information. We’ll send a draft copy of your DRO application for you to check. This is to make sure all your information is correct.
  • Step 5 - Pay the £90 fee for processing your DRO. You need to pay this fee to the Insolvency Service. You’ll be sent a letter with a barcode on and you use this to pay your fee at a Post Office or PayZone outlet. If you can't afford the fee, a charitable fund could help you cover it. Turn2Us can advise further on this. You can also pay the fee in instalments using your barcoded letter. The Insolvency Service has a minimum instalment amount of £5. If you don't pay your DRO application fee, your DRO will not go ahead. 
  • Step 6 - Once you've paid your fee, contact each of your creditors and ask for your up-to-date balances. Once you've done this, call us with these balances as soon as possible. We'll finish submitting your DRO application through the Insolvency Service. You'll then be sent a final copy of your application form.
  • Step 7 - The Insolvency Service will review your application and then decide whether to approve your DRO. The approval process should take around 10 working days, but may be longer due to the pandemic or if there have been delays in gathering the information needed. 
  • Step 8 - The Insolvency Service will write to you and confirm that your DRO application has been approved. They'll also tell your creditors. If your application isn't successful please get in touch with us and we’ll look at your other options.

 What information do you need to set up my DRO? 

Here’s a list of the information we need to start your DRO application. Please don’t send this information to us until you’ve collected it all. This helps to speed up the application process.

If any of the evidence we’re asking for doesn’t match your budget, please log in to your online account and update it. 

Evidence and documents that we need from you

Evidence / document What we need to see
Personal Information Form
Proof of income
  • If you’re paid monthly - 3 payslips dated within the last 3 months
  • If you’re paid weekly – 12 weeks’ payslips dated within the last 6 months
Proof of benefits
Signed agreement
Your DRO checklist

What's the quickest way for me to send you this information?

Email is the quickest way to send your information. Please send all evidence and documents as one email to admin.team@stepchange.org. Please include your reference number in the subject line.

You can take photographs of the evidence on your mobile phone and attach them to the email (remember to make sure the pictures are clear, and they capture the whole document)

You can also post your documents to:

5th Floor, York House, 38 Great Charles Street, Birmingham, B3 3JY

If you post your information to us, make sure you take your envelope to the post office and pay the correct postage. Due to a high volume of applications, please allow 10 working days for any posted documents and evidence to be processed.

Once you’ve sent us all the information we need, we’ll complete your DRO application. While we do this, if we told you to open a new basic bank account during your advice session, please open one as soon as possible. It’s also important that you find out if your job, home, or any of your assets may be affected by a DRO.

Questions we’re frequently asked about DROs

Find out what to do in these common situations, both before your DRO is set up and after it's been approved.

If you have a change of circumstances during your DRO you'll need to contact us so we can check a DRO is still right for you.

Let them know you’re applying for a DRO.  You can make small payments to your creditors if you want to – we suggest £1 each at the most. You should concentrate on saving up your £90 DRO fee first though.

Even when your DRO has been approved your creditors could still contact you. Find out how to deal with creditor contact on a DRO.

You can own one vehicle for day-to-day use worth up to £2,000 (or £1,000 in Northern Ireland).  This is addition to the £2,000 of other assets (£1,000 in Northern Ireland) you are allowed to own.

If your vehicle has been specially adapted to help you with a physical disability, the above limits won’t apply.

If you’re self-employed you can own a car for business purposes only, but this will be counted as part of your £2,000 other assets (£1,000 in Northern Ireland). 

If you've fallen behind with your household bills, the arrears will be included in your DRO application.  This includes gas, electric, water, council tax and similar bills.  However, TV licence arrears are an exception to this, and they are not included in a DRO.

This will be included in your DRO and if the overpayment is being recovered by reducing your current benefit payments, this will stop.  This means your income may go up. However, if the benefit overpayment was fraudulent, for example you’ve been prosecuted or admitted in an interview that you lied, the debt will not be written off at the end of the DRO moratorium.

If you live in England and Wales you can pay in instalments and submit your DRO application once you’ve paid the full £90.

Whether you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can also request assistance with this fee from various charities, utility companies or trust funds. Turn2us can help you search for organisations who may be able to help.

You cannot add a debt to a DRO once it’s been approved. You'll have to contact this creditor and come to a separate arrangement to repay the debt.

This is rare, but if your DRO is revoked you need to contact us and we'll look at other ways to deal with your debts.


man in park with daughter

Michael, West Yorkshire

"Getting debt advice has made my life a lot easier. I'm so grateful to StepChange for helping me."

woman on sofa with phone

Fiona, Lancashire

"I'm finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel."

Want to know more about your DRO? 

You can find more detailed information on your DRO by following the links below.