How can I find out if someone has entered bankruptcy?

How do you know if someone has entered bankruptcy in the UK? Neil Dingley of Moore Recovery Stoke on Trent explains how bankruptcy is recorded in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Bankruptcy Register UK

How can I find out if someone has entered bankruptcy in England and Wales?

When a bankruptcy order is made, whether on a creditor’s or debtor’s petition, the fact of the bankruptcy automatically becomes a matter of public record.

In England and Wales, if you are a creditor of someone you suspect may have been declared bankrupt there are two main ways to find out if your suspicions are correct:

How long does bankruptcy last?

The Gazette and the Individual Insolvency Register are the Official Public Records of bankruptcy. The fact of bankruptcy will also be recorded by various credit reference companies. A bankruptcy will usually remain on these records for up to 6 years.

Ordinarily the details of a bankruptcy will remain on the Individual Insolvency Register for 15 months. This is three months after the bankrupt receives his or her automatic discharge from bankruptcy – which is most often after 12 months.

If, however, the bankrupt has behaved dishonestly or irresponsibly before or during the currency of the bankruptcy the Official Receiver can apply for a Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking (BRU) or a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order (BRO). In which case the 12-month period of the automatic discharge can be extended.

How can I use The Gazette and the Individual Insolvency Register if I am a creditor?

The Gazette and the Individual Insolvency Register will tell you who is handling the affairs of a bankruptcy. This will either be the Official Receiver (OR) or an Independent Insolvency Practitioner (IP).

You should contact the OR or the IP if you are a creditor in the bankruptcy estate. They will normally ask you to submit your claim in the bankruptcy. If you are owed more than £1,000 you will need to submit a formal proof of debt form.

After you have submitted your claim there is nothing more you need to do at this stage. The OR or the IP will contact all creditors if a dividend is to be declared.

How can I find out if someone has entered a bankruptcy in Scotland?

To find out if someone has been made bankrupt in Scotland you can search the Register of Insolvencies kept by the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB).

How can I find out if someone has entered a bankruptcy in Northern Ireland?

To find out if someone has been declared bankrupt in Northern Ireland you can head to the Insolvency service page on the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy website. Alternatively, you can call the Chancery Office at the High Court on 030 0200 7812.

Where can I see insolvency notices in The Gazette?

You can view all corporate and personal insolvency notices on The Gazette website.

The Gazette also provides a data service which gives access to official intelligence on all UK businesses, corporate and personal insolvencies. Benefits of The Gazette’s data service include:

  • Bespoke reports - tailored around your specific business
  • Geo-targeted editions - available for specific geographical targeting (National, London, Belfast, Edinburgh)
  • Custom filters - specific custom attributes (company number, notice type, key terms)
  • Data at regular intervals - delivered at a rate to match your business needs (daily, weekly, monthly)

For more information on The Gazette’s data service, contact the team on 01603 985949 or email

About the author

Neil Dingley is restructuring and insolvency Partner at Moore Recovery Stoke on Trent and has a background in information technology and accountancy.

See also

Insolvency notices

What restrictions are there during bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy or an IVA - which is best?

What is an IVA and is it right for you?

Find out more

Individual Insolvency Register (The Insolvency Service)

Insolvency service (

Register of Insolvencies (AiB)

Bankruptcy Restrictions Orders and Undertakings (

Rule 14.4 proof of debt (general form) (

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 30 March 2020