What Is a Debt Write Off? How To Write Off Your Debts

If you are struggling with overwhelming debts, you can try and get the money you owe written off.

Whether a creditor will write off your debt or not is dependent on your unique financial circumstances.

It may be the case that they agree to write off a portion of your debt, but not the full amount.

Read our article to learn more about what it means to have your debt written off.

We will also explore possible debt solutions that will help you clear your debt and discuss your eligibility for having your debts cleared.

What does it mean to have a debt written off?

To have a debt write off means that the lender has agreed to not pursue payment of your outstanding debt.

Whether a creditor agrees to a full or partial write off will be highly dependent on the lender and your individual situation.

In most cases, the creditors will only consider writing off your unsecured debts under extenuating circumstances, such as severe mental health and continuing unemployment.

It is important to know when a debt is written off, even though you don’t need to make any more payments, it will still be listed on your credit file as partially repaid.

Having an unpaid debt on your credit report can detrimentally impact your credit rating, which may make other aspects of your finance more difficult.

For example, if you have a poor credit score, it may be harder to take out another loan or secure a mortgage.

It is always advisable to repay all of your debts where possible, to avoid any other financial hardship.

How can you write off debt?

The main motivation of a lender is to get their money back.

There have to be extreme circumstances for a creditor to consider writing off any debts.

A creditor may believe it is unlikely that you will make any repayments or they might see that you can’t afford to pay back their money.

In this case, they may decide that in the long run, it would be more beneficial for them to clear some of the outstanding debt.

This will save them from having to chase payments that they have no hope of getting back.

Keep reading to find out what factors will make a creditor consider wiping your debts. 

Do I qualify for a debt write off?

In order for a creditor to write off your unsecured debts, you must show them that you are unable to pay.

They will always need to see some evidence explaining why your personal circumstances prohibit you from making your debt repayments.

If you can offer them acceptable evidence, then they may offer some debt relief.

Always seek out debt advice from a debt charity, as they could assess whether you would be deemed eligible or not.

Below are a few examples of why you might be entitled to have your debts written off. 

If you are a pensioner

You may be classed as a pensioner or you may be heading towards pension age.

When you hit retirement age it is unlikely that you will continue having an influx of earnings.

This could be deemed as a situation in which unsecured debt could be written off, provided you can provide evidence of your restricted income.

If you are unemployed

You may be stuck in long-term unemployment, which could be through no fault of your own.

If you are on any form of unemployment benefits, then you can suggest that you don’t have enough economic capital to pay your debts.

Once you have provided sufficient evidence of your limited funds, creditors may consider writing some, or all, of your loan.

If you have physical or mental health issues

You might suffer from a long-term, or terminal, illness, either mental or physical.

Due to your illness, you may not be able to work or pay your outstanding debts.

Your lenders may recognise how your illness prohibits you from making their repayments and offer you some unsecured debt forgiveness.

Which debt solutions write off debts?

There are a variety of debt solutions and insolvency measures, in the UK, that will help you get your debts written off.

Being released from overhanging debt can significantly help your financial situation allows you to have more disposable income to pay essential bills.

It is advisable to access free advice from a qualified debt charity before deciding on one of the following options.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

You should consider the following debt solutions if you are based in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.


Bankruptcy is a type of insolvency that allows you to write off any unsecured debts if you aren’t able to pay them back.

Be aware that through this legally binding agreement any assets you own, such as property or vehicles, may be sold to repay the debts you owe.

Filing as bankrupt can negatively impact your credit record, so speak with a debt adviser first to make sure there isn’t a more suitable solution.

You can find a list of bankruptcy companies in our online article.

Debt Relief Order (DRO)

If the total of the debts you owe is relatively small, then a debt relief order may be an option to consider.

You can apply for a DRO if you have less than £30,000 in debts, a limited number of assets and less than £75 per month in spare income.

Through this kind of agreement, lenders can’t take action to recover unpaid debts.

After a 12 month period, your debts are typically written off.

You can find a list of all of the best debt relief order companies in our DRO article.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)

An IVA is a government scheme that allows you to pool your unsecured debts together and make one achievable payment each month.

This kind of agreement tends to last for five or six years, and any interest rates are frozen.

Insolvency practitioners are in charge of your finances in an Individual Voluntary Arrangement IVA.

It is possible to make one-off payments to an IVA when possible, which will shorten the duration of the arrangement.

If you are struggling with any aspect of your IVA, speak with your insolvency practitioners as soon as possible.

You can find more information on the IVA process by reading our informative article.

In Scotland:

You should consider the following debt solutions if you are based in Scotland.


Sequestration is a type of insolvency debt solution that can help you clear debts that you can’t afford to pay back.

If you have any assets, such as property or vehicles, they can be sold to repay your overdue debt.

You can find sequestration companies in our comprehensive article.

Protected Trust Deed

A protected trust deed is a legal agreement that allows you to make reasonable and reduced payments, over a period of four years.

After the 4 years has been completed, any remaining debt is likely to be written off.

Minimal Assets Process (MAP) Bankruptcy

MAP bankruptcy is the Scottish form of bankruptcy debt solution.

It aims to help individuals with a low income and minimal assets write off their debts.

You can only apply for a MAP bankruptcy through a professional unsecured debt advisory service.

How long before a debt is written off?

There is no set timeline for having a debt written off.

How long it takes for your debt to be written off will depend on the following:

  • The level of debt
  • Your income
  • Your expenditure
  • How the bet is being repaid
  • The likelihood that you can repay the debt
  • Extenuating circumstances, such as illness

With some forms of debt solution, there may be an agreed timeline after which your debt is confirmed to be cleared.

For example, with an IVA the lenders may have agreed to wipe any debt which hasn’t been covered by your monthly repayments, after a certain amount of years.

This will vary between creditors and may not always be the case, so make sure to check the terms and conditions of any debt agreements you enter.

Statute Debt

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, debts can be deemed are statute-barred.

Statute-barred debts are debts that haven’t been paid and there have been no attempts to chase them, in the last six years.

After six years, the court isn’t able to take any action to reclaim the outstanding debts.

When does debt get written off in Scotland?

Scotland has a completely different debt solution procedure than other areas of the UK, as it has a separate legal system.

In Scotland, you can still access unsecured debt solutions that may help you write off your debts.

Debt advisory services will highlight plausible debt help options, that may write off debts after a period of repayments.

Prescribed Debt

Prescribed debts are the Scottish equivalent of statute debts, whereby after 5 years of no payments or chases for payment, the debt can be cleared.

After the five year period, no creditor or court can take any action to reclaim the outstanding debt.

Can I ask my creditors to write off my debts?

It is always worthwhile having a discussion with your creditors to see if they would consider writing off a portion, or all, of your unsecured debts.

They will be more likely to agree if you are a pensioner, unemployed, or have a severe illness.

However, if creditors can see that, for whatever reason, you are unable to make repayments, you have no assets, or it isn’t fair to pursue repayments, then they may let you off.

If you claim to have medical problems, which prohibit you from repaying debts, it’s likely creditors will request medical evidence before they can write off debt.

If your medical problems are mental, you can send a debt and mental health evidence form (DMHEF)  to your lenders to consider.

A DMHEF has to be completed by a medical or social care professional.

Another option that lenders may consider is to stop any contact for an agreed amount of time, to take the pressure off you.

What happens once I’ve received a debt write off?

If a debt is written off, your bills are considered cleared.

You won’t be classed as responsible for any form of repayments and the lender, involved with the written-off debt, won’t be able to take any action against you.

The debts will remain on your credit report but they will be classified as paid, so your credit score shouldn’t be impacted.

If your creditor has only agreed to write off part of your debt, then you will still need to pay back your outstanding balance.

Does writing off debt affect your credit rating?

If you receive a full write-off for your debts, then this shouldn’t impact your credit file.

A partially paid off debt will be classified as partially settled, which may detrimentally affect your credit score.

A poor credit rating can make it much more difficult to gain credit in the future, as lenders might assume you won’t be reliable with making your monthly payments.

However, unpaid bill debts are only recorded on your credit history for a maximum of six years, after such time they will be cleared.

Where to find advice on writing off debts

You can access free debt advice from a range of debt charities.

Never pay for debt advice, as there are many professional services that will offer information on how to get unsecured debts written off, free of charge.

If you owe money that you can’t pay back, you can try acquiring a debt write off, which could really help improve your financial situation.

There may be exceptional circumstances that may allow all your debts to be cleared, or perhaps a partial write-off will be allowed.

Always make sure to pay off debts left after a partial write-off. With the creditor’s guidance, you might be allowed to make affordable payments on a one monthly payment scheme.


If you are struggling to pay off your debts, seek initial advice from a registered charity to see what debt options you might have.

One debt solution may be to attempt to get your debts written off.

This is a formal agreement by which all, or some, of your debts will be struck off and you won’t be forced to pay them back to the lender.

You might be eligible for a write off if you have a mental health issue, are long term unemployed, or are of pension age.