How Long Does Bankruptcy Affect My Credit Report?

| Category: Bankruptcy FAQ | Bankruptcy in Ontario
Category: Bankruptcy FAQ | Bankruptcy in Ontario | (16) comments

credit report and bankruptcyThere are two main credit reporting agencies in Ontario: Equifax and Trans Union. Information about your bankruptcy or consumer proposal is reported to these agencies by the Office of The Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB), not your trustee. The OSB will advise these agencies when you file a bankruptcy or proposal and when you receive your discharge.

If you file ANY of a bankruptcy, consumer proposal, debt management plan or do a debt settlement, a not will appear on your credit report that can negatively impact your credit. In general:

  • a first bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for six years after you are discharged;
  • a consumer proposal (or debt management or debt settlement plan will remain on your credit report for three years after all of your payments are completed.

Bankruptcy does not mean you cannot borrow for six or seven years. This just means that the note will remain on your report, however there are many other factors that affect your ability to get credit.

If you have a job, and if you have a down payment or security deposit, it is possible to repair your credit sooner. Many people are able to buy a car or a house in less than seven years after their bankruptcy ends, if they are able to save money and begin repairing their credit. Here are some ways you can improve your credit after filing for bankruptcy:

  1. Pay you bills on time.
  2. Get a copy of your credit report, review it for errors and make sure your bankruptcy notice is removed when it should be.
  3. Start saving so you can have a larger down payment which will positively affect your ability to be approved for a new loan.
  4. Consider rebuilding  your credit with the use of a secured credit card.
  5. Once you do receive credit, use it wisely. Show that you can make your payments on time and do not over-use credit again.

Saving money, paying your bills on time and re-applying for credit slowly can change how long bankruptcy affects your credit, and your ability to borrow in Ontario.

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  1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

    If you have ceased to be a student for more than seven years at the time you file bankruptcy, your student loans are included in the bankruptcy. If you have been out of school for less than seven years they are not automatically discharged.

    The seven year rule can get a bit complicated, so I suggest you contact an Ontario bankruptcy trustee to explain the rule in more detail and advise you on your options.

  2. Alona


    I’m 23 years old. Don’t have any assets. Can’t repay my loans. Am I qualified to file for bankruptcy?

    If not, how am I settle debt with no income yet?

    1. Michael

      Hello.. I am currently thinking of filling for bankruptcy, and in regards to all the negative aspects of such, I am prepared to deal with those. However, one of my debts is a $1000 over-drawn bank account that I shared with my now estranged wife. Her name is still on the account, and the bank refuses to remove it, despite the fact the she hasn’t used or had access to the account in over a year, until the over-draft is paid off. Is there going to be negative consequences for her because her name is still on this account? I don’t want her to have to suffer for debt that I accumulated.

      1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

        Hi Michael. If you go bankrupt, all of your debts are included in your bankruptcy, including your overdraft. The bank would then be able to pursue the joint borrower (your ex-wife) for the debt. The only way to prevent this is for you or your ex-wife to pay off the overdraft before you file bankruptcy.

  3. Patricia

    What happens when a bankruptcy is removed from Equifax but not Trans Union. Its been 6 years since my bankruptcy and Equifax has removed it from my report but Trans Union says its seven years before it comes off.

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Patricia: Each credit reporting agency in Ontario determines how long they will report a bankruptcy. Equifax purges a first bankruptcy six years after discharge, while Trans Union may leave it there for seven years. In your case you can take steps to rebuild your credit now, but the bankruptcy may remain on your Trans Union credit report for seven years.

  4. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

    Alona: Yes, you are qualified to file bankruptcy if you owe more than $1,000 and are unable to repay your debts. However, since for many people the reason they claim bankruptcy is to prevent their wages from being garnisheed, your other option would be to wait until you are working and then contact your creditors directly to arrange a repayment plan. A credit counsellor can also help with this. You could also consult with a bankruptcy trustee to review your options.

  5. Sandi

    I was involved with a consumer proposal 7 years ago. The proposal has been lifted from my credit score BUT one of the creditors that was included in the proposal still remains on my record. Is this right?

  6. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

    Hi Sandi. After seven years the creditor should no longer be appearing on your credit report, since the maximum period most information remains on a credit report is for six years. I would suggest you confirm that all of the dates on your credit report are correct, and that there was no activity on your account after the proposal started. You should also notify both the credit bureau and the creditor of the error and ask them to correct it.

  7. gerry

    i was told that bankruptcy is now 9 months before discharge i went through it in 2010 it was 21 months . i know a woman that wants declare bankruptcy is on welfare her trustee told her 9 months ?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Gerry. The length of a bankruptcy depends on many factors, including your income, and whether or not you were previously bankrupt.

      A first time bankrupt with no surplus income is eligible to be automatically discharged in nine months. Your friend on welfare would therefore have low income, so yes, she would probably be a nine month bankruptcy.

      In your case your income was probably above the limit, so your bankruptcy was extended for an additional year, which is why your bankruptcy was 21 months.

  8. Jenniffer C.

    HI…I was discharged from bankruptcy on April 28th, 2008. A year or so later I acquired a Secure Credit Card. In 2010 I purchased a Honda CRV with a good downpayment and was able to get honda to finance the rest. My Crv will be paid off this coming may. I now have a small business (incorporated) for over a year now. (besides my fulltime permanent elementary school teaching job -have been teaching for 15 years). I would like to apply for a small business credit card but not sure if my ‘bankruptcy’ term is over.
    Any help is appreciated!

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Jennifer. There are two different concepts here:

      Yes, your bankruptcy is over; it ended when you were discharged in 2008, which is why you have been able to obtain credit.

      You are presumably asking about how long bankruptcy appears on your credit report. With Equifax it appears as a note on your credit report for six years after you are discharged, so if you were discharged in April 2008, the note will appear until April 2014, so the answer is yes, the note should no longer appear on your credit report. To be sure, you can contact Equifax and Trans Union and request a free copy of your credit report, which should confirm that your bankruptcy no longer appears on your credit report.

  9. Sharon M.

    I have seen a trustee and though she recommends Bankruptcy given my income level, I am inclined toward a Proposal as I see it as the lesser of two evils. Plus, I volunteer on two not-for-profit Boards and am pretty sure that a bankrupt cannot be a Director on a Board. Is that correct?
    If it is correct, how long would it be before I can sit on a Board?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Sharon. A bankrupt cannot serve as a director of a corporation. In most cases it’s not an issue if you are on the board of a not-for-profit agency. To be sure, you should consult the agencies bylaws, and confirm that if your agency has director’s insurance you will still be covered if you are bankrupt.

      As for a proposal being the “lesser of two evils”, that may be true, but you will want to confirm that the amount you will pay in a proposal is reasonable given your income, which may be why the trustee recommended a bankruptcy.


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