We can do just about anything on the Internet, but can you file bankruptcy online?

Until recently, bankruptcy involved meeting in person with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

For obvious reasons, many people are uneasy about face-to-face appointments at the moment. It’s also inefficient when you live remotely, especially if you want to alleviate your debt problems quickly.

What’s more, when you’re struggling to make ends meet, it involves transport costs that you might not be able to afford.

To reduce in-person contact due to COVID-19, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) issued guidance that allows trustees to use video and telephone calls when administering a bankruptcy or consumer proposal.

Electronic signatures are also encouraged, while insolvency counselling can be provided via video call or telephone if needed. Creditor meetings can also be held online.

How to file bankruptcy online

So what’s the first step to filing bankruptcy online? Well, it’s very straightforward.

As outlined in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, you must appoint a licensed professional called a Licensed Insolvency Trustee if you want to file for bankruptcy or enter into a consumer proposal.

So the first step is to arrange a free consultation with a trustee, who will conduct an assessment by phone or video.

A trustee is responsible for:

  • Administering bankruptcies and consumer proposals.
  • Protecting the rights of you and your creditors.
  • Giving you the best possible financial advice.
  • Helping you alleviate your debts.

Online or telephone consultation

During your consultation, your trustee will ask you questions about your debts, income and expenses, employment, and assets.

After you’ve supplied this information, they will present you with several solutions to your debts.

On review, you might find that bankruptcy isn’t the best option, and if that’s the case, your trustee will recommend another option.

Bankruptcy is always considered a last resort after considering all your debt relief options.

Many people opt to file a consumer proposal instead because you pay a portion of your debt over a set period, the payments are more affordable, and you can keep your assets.

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If bankruptcy is the best course of action, your trustee will present you with some documents to read and sign electronically.

Your trustee will explain these in detail over a video or phone call to ensure you understand what you are signing.

Finally, ensure the information is correct and review these documents carefully.

Electronic filing

From there, it’s now time to make your bankruptcy official, so at this stage, your trustee will file your bankruptcy electronically with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB).

The OSB will issue a Certificate of Appointment, confirming your bankruptcy.

A mechanism known as a Stay of Proceedings begins, and your creditors are notified, providing you with immediate automatic protection from your creditors during your bankruptcy term. Wage garnishments are also lifted at this stage.

Payments towards your bankruptcy are made electronically. You are required to submit proof of your income each month electronically to determine if you need to pay surplus income payments or not.

Online insolvency counselling sessions

It’s easy to undertake your insolvency counselling sessions over a video call.

These flexible financial sessions help educate you about maintaining good financial health and warn you about financial dangers to avoid getting into trouble with your debts again.

You must complete the first insolvency counselling session within 60 days of your bankruptcy filing and the second within 210 days of your bankruptcy filing.

Discharge

Once you have completed your bankruptcy duties, you are eligible to be released from the debts that existed when you filed your bankruptcy.

This is known as a bankruptcy discharge. Typically, a first-time bankrupt is completed after nine months.

Your bankruptcy lasts longer if you have been bankrupt before or if you have surplus income, which also increases the cost of your bankruptcy.

You are automatically discharged in nine months if you meet the following criteria:

  • It’s your first bankruptcy.
  • Your creditors, your Licensed Insolvency Trustee and the OSB, do not oppose your discharge.
  • You have no surplus income.
  • You’ve completed your insolvency counselling sessions.

See also: How to file for bankruptcy

Am I eligible to file for bankruptcy online?

If you owe at least $1,000, cannot pay your debts as they become due, and your assets are worth less than the debts you owe, you might be eligible for bankruptcy.

However, other options are available to you, and bankruptcy might be drastic for your situation, especially if you have a steady income or sizeable assets.

Conclusion

Filing bankruptcy online is now possible.

To reduce in-person contact due to COVID-19, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy enables trustees to use video and telephone calls when administering a bankruptcy or consumer proposal.

If your debts have become unmanageable and you want to know more about filing bankruptcy online, speak with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

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