Debt Relief Orders

Debt Relief Orders

What is a Debt Relief Order?

DROs came into force in April 2009. In contrast to other forms of debt relief, they are not available through the court system. Instead the orders are made by an Official Receiver. An application for a DRO can be made online through an Approved Intermediary who is an authorised, skilled debt adviser.

Once an order is made, creditors who are included in the DRO will then be prevented from taking any action to recover or enforce their debts against the debtor. Generally, those debts will be discharged at the end of one year.

You can find out more about DROs on the website

What is a competent authority?

Competent authorities are bodies designated by the Secretary of State to approve intermediaries.  Skilled debt advisers can apply to one of the competent authorities to become an approved intermediary. A competent authority has the power to approve or decline the applicant and to continue to assess their suitability as intermediaries. The IMA was designated as a competent authority in April 2009 and we currently have over 200 approved intermediaries.

If you wish to complain about an IMA approved DRO intermediary, email us at

How do I become a DRO Approved Intermediary?

Only IMA Associate and Accredited members can apply to the IMA to become a DRO intermediary.

To become an intermediary, eligible members should complete the appropriate application form, part of which will need to be completed and signed by your line manager. Associate members (i.e. those without the Certificate in Money Advice Practice) will also need to submit an anonymised case file, which we will assess to ensure you are working at the appropriate level of competency.

If you are an IMA member and wish to apply to become a DRO intermediary, click here to find out full details and to download an application form.

If you are not an IMA member and would like more information about the application process, please call us on 0113 242 0049 or email Please also email us if you are a money adviser in Northern Ireland and you would like to apply to become an intermediary.

Can the IMA help me to apply for a DRO?

Please note we are unable to give advice or refer you directly to a DRO intermediary.

You can visit to find information on free debt advice agencies,

Once you have located free debt adviser, they will either be an approved intermediary themselves and will be able to complete a DRO application for you, or they will signpost you to other local agencies which can provide an approved intermediary to make an application for you.

Other than the £90 fee, you cannot be charged for being advised on or applying for a DRO.

How can I complain regarding the IMA’s role as a competent authority?

Clients of approved intermediaries authorised by the IMA, and applicants for approved intermediary status, are able to complain to the IMA in some circumstances. For full details please see our DRO complaints policy.