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How Long Does a Bankruptcy Stay on my Credit Report?

How Long Does a Bankruptcy Stay on my Credit Report?

I am often asked how long a bankruptcy or consumer proposal remains on a credit report.

In Canada there are two large credit reporting agencies, or credit bureaus, Equifax and Trans Union, and they each report bankruptcies and proposals differently.

Bankruptcy reporting

How long does bankruptcy stay on my credit report

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Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps you eliminate debt you can’t repay. That’s the positive side of bankruptcy, but I know people are worried about the impact bankruptcy will have on their credit report and their ability to get a loan after bankruptcy. I’m Doug Hoyes, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Hoyes, Michalos & Associates. Well, let’s look at how bankruptcy appears on your credit report.

Bankruptcy will appear in two sections of your credit report; the legal or public record section, and the individual account section which is a list of all of your debts. When you file bankruptcy, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy will send information to the credit bureaus who will put a note in the legal section that states you filed a bankruptcy proceeding and the date you filed.

Your credit report also includes a trade account section of activity reported to the credit bureaus by your creditors, which includes the name of the creditor, the balance outstanding, the last payment date and how many months you might be behind on payments. When you file bankruptcy, your creditors will add a note that the debt is included in bankruptcy.

The next update happens when you are discharged. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy will notify the credit bureaus when your bankruptcy is finished, which is when you get your discharge. This discharge date is added to the legal section in your credit report.

So when are these notes on your credit report removed? In the case of the legal section notice for a first time bankrupt, Equifax removes the notice six years after your discharge, TransUnion removes the notice seven years after your discharge. In your trade account section, the credit bureaus will purge this information six or seven years after the date of last activity which is usually the date you were discharged.

It’s important to know that you can start to rebuild your credit long before this six or seven-year period ends. There are steps you can take to rebuild your credit even while you’re bankrupt. I don’t recommend deciding to hold off on filing bankruptcy because you’re worried about your credit. If you have more debt than you can ever hope to repay, your credit is probably already bad or soon will be. You can get a secured and sometimes unsecured credit card after bankruptcy and sometimes while you’re bankrupt depending on what else is on your credit report.

Over the years I’ve had thousands of clients who have been able to get a loan after they’re discharged from bankruptcy. The terms of the loan like the interest rate and down payment required will depend on their income and what steps they’ve taken to rebuild their credit. Your ability to borrow at favourable terms will improve over time as you work to rebuild your credit, but the credit rebuilding process often starts and moves faster if you eliminate troublesome debt first.

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According to Equifax’s website, “Bankruptcy stays on your Equifax credit report for 6 years after the discharge date, or 7 years after the date filed without a discharge date. If a second bankruptcy is filed, then the first re-appears on your Equifax credit report, and both bankruptcies remain for 14 years after the discharge dates.”


On TransUnion’s website, they state that they maintain information on your file for the maximum length of time permitted by provincial credit reporting legislation.  In Ontario, credit reporting is governed by the Consumer Reporting Act which states, in subsection 9 (3) (e), that a consumer reporting agency shall not include in a consumer report “information as to the bankruptcy of the consumer after seven years from the date of the discharge except where the consumer has been bankrupt more than once.”

For a single bankruptcy in Ontario, TransUnion maintains this information seven (7) years from the date of discharge. If the consumer declares bankruptcy on more than one occasion, each bankruptcy will report on file for fourteen (14) years from the date of discharge of each bankruptcy

TransUnion also states that when a bankruptcy is removed from your file, all accounts reported as included in that bankruptcy will also be removed from your file. 


Equifax automatically deletes a first bankruptcy six years after the date of discharge, whereas TransUnion leaves the bankruptcy on your credit report for seven years after the date of your discharge.

Consumer proposal reporting

Consumer proposal reporting was updated by both credit bureau’s in 2019.  Both have added a maximum time period of 6 years after the date of filing or default.


A consumer proposal will be removed from your Equifax credit report 3 years after you’ve paid off all the debts according to the proposal, or 6 years from the date it was filed, whichever comes first. 


A consumer proposal and all accounts reported as satisfied through the proposal will be removed from your TransUnion credit file 3 years from the date you satisfied the proposal or 6 years after the date you defaulted on the account, whichever date comes first.


What this means is the maximum period a proposal will remain on your credit report is 6 years from the time you file and can be shortened if you pay off your proposal in less than three years. For example, for a five-year proposal, the note will be removed one-year after completion. For a 4-year proposal, 2 years afte completion (because you reached the maximum 6 year period). If you pay off your proposal in two years, it will only be on your credit report for a total of 5 years (2 years + 3).

Path to credit recovery

If you are avoiding talking to a bankruptcy trustee because you are concerned about how your credit will be affected, it’s important to consider two factors:

  1. If you have bad credit today, bankruptcy or a consumer proposal can be a step in repairing your credit history because it eliminates debt you may otherwise not be able to pay. Even if you think you have good credit, your ability to obtain a new loan may be negatively affected if you carry too much debt.
  2. It is important to note that your credit report is only one element lenders use to decide if they will let you borrow money. They are also interested in your income, job stability, assets, and perhaps co-signers. By saving money and paying your regular monthly bills on time, it is possible to gain access to credit in less than seven years after your bankruptcy has ended.

If debt is holding you back from rebuilding your credit, talk with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee about how to eliminate  your debt. We provide free, no-obligations consultations during which we will conduct a full debt assessment and provide you with options to get out of debt so you can build a stronger financial future.

Similar Posts:

  1. How Long Does Negative Information Affect Your Credit Report?
  2. Understanding the Credit Impact of Different Debt Relief Programs
  3. How To Check Your Credit Report for Free
  4. Should I File a Second Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal?
  5. How To Correct Errors On Your Credit Report

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13 comments on “How Long Does a Bankruptcy Stay on my Credit Report?

  1. Afshin on

    Hi there..
    My name is Afshin and I am living in Toronto, ON.

    I completed a proposal in Sep.2011.

    I corresponded with Equifax and TransUnion recently by myself, and asked them how long the transactions and consumer proposal remains on file.

    TransUnion mentioned the proposal remains till Sep. 2014, and it will remove automatically on this date.- 3 years after the satisfaction. But they have not mentioned how long the transaction remains on file.

    Whereas, Equifax sent me a letter recently that credit information typically remains on file for six years after the last account activity.

    But on your website you mention 3 years after the completion.
    My question is: when the whole negative credit report remains on my file in these 2 bureux…So far I have two vehicles leased by HONDA FINANCIAL but I have my mother co-signed on both vehicles. are these lease agreements helpful to establish my credit? the are dated July 2012, and he other one dated starting date on both vehicles.
    I also have a credit card from capital one which I opened it in January 2012.

    many thanks for your response in advance.

  2. J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, Trustee on

    Basic credit information remains on your credit report for six years. So, for example, if you pay off a credit card and cancel it, that credit card will be removed from your credit report six years later.

    A consumer proposal is a unique category; the note about your consumer proposal remains on your credit report for three years after you complete the proposal, at which point it is automatically purged from your credit report. The comment you are quoting from Equifax was the six year purge rule for a typical debt, not the three year consumer proposal purge rule.

    As for your car lease and your new credit card, yes, those items will help improve your credit score, provided you are making the payments on time.

  3. Mk on

    I have to say as I am coming to close the 6 years since my discharge I am finding it quite disheartening that it will still be on my record at TransUnion for another year. I have lost many job opportunities where a credit check was done and now this will continue for another year? I was told 6 years and this nightmare is over. Do most companies use just one agency when they request a report or is it centralized and both come up? How is the discrepancy of one having my bankruptcy on file while the other does not looked at?
    I am not looking to get more credit, I just want to finally get the job I am qualified for. It really hurts to be turned down due to a credit report. 🙁
    Thank you in advance.

  4. J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, Trustee on

    Mk: You are correct. In general Equifax removes the note about bankruptcy six years after discharge, where TransUnion may leave the note for seven years.

    Each employer is different. Most employers don’t do credit checks on new employees, unless it’s a financial services business where credit may be an issue. Presumably employers would only use one credit reporting agency or the other, since other than the specific example you mention, the information is very similar on both reports.

    If I was applying for a job where a credit check was important, my strategy would be to:

    1. get my credit report from Equifax (at the end of the six years) and provide a copy directly to the prospective employer. Perhaps by providing it to them directly they will be less inclined to pay the fee to order your credit report directly.

    2. you could explain to your prospective employer that while you were bankrupt many years ago, you have had no problems since, and you have no debt, have re-established credit, and therefore would be an excellent addition to their organization, as your past experience will make you a better employee.

  5. Lori on

    Hi There,

    Can you please clarify the rules surrounding multiple bankruptcies? Do they need to occur within the same time frame? ie there is already a bankruptcy on your credit record and before the time limit (6 years) passes there is a second bankruptcy? or is it that if a second bankruptcy occurs anytime in your lifetime it will remain on your record for 14 years?


    • J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, Trustee on

      Hi Lori. There is no time limit for the reporting of a second bankruptcy on your credit report.

      So, for example, if you went bankrupt in 2000, and then filed a second bankruptcy in 2015, the standard practice for the credit reporting agencies in Canada would be to show both bankruptcies on your credit report for 14 years from the date of the discharge of your second bankruptcy.

      That’s one of the reasons why we often recommend that instead of filing a second bankruptcy it may be wise to consider a consumer proposal, because a consumer proposal only appears on your credit report for 3 years from the date of completion, regardless of whether or not you had a prior bankruptcy.

  6. Paul on

    My proposal will be purged in 3 years after completion, but what about the accounts (trades) included in the proposal?
    Will they be removed 3 years after the proposal completion?
    Or 6 years after the date of last activity like a regular account or (trade)?

    Please help me figure this out…

    • J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, LIT on

      Hi Paul. This is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on how each creditor reports to the credit bureau. Many creditors, when they receive notice that you have filed a proposal, will code the account as “Included in Proposal”, and that’s it; there is no further reporting. So, if you are in a five year proposal, that account would be purged six years from the date the proposal is filed, because that is the last activity date reported by the creditor. Some creditors may report the date the proposal is accepted, or even the date the proposal is completed, in which case the individual note from that creditor will appear on your credit report for six years from the date of the last activity. To find out how each creditor is reporting, you can look at the “last activity date” on your credit report.

      The note about the proposal itself, in the “legal items” section of your credit report, will be purged three years after the completion of your proposal.

      The more important question is “how does this impact whether or not I will be able to borrow in the future?” The answer is that there is not just one factor that influences your credit score. A creditor that chooses to report a proposal for six years after the date of completion will have a minimal impact on your credit score, because the most significant component of your credit score is the amount of debt you have, which after the proposal is zero unsecured debt. Other important factors include your income, how long you have worked at the same job, how long you have lived at the same address, and what other steps you have taken to rebuild credit. Because of all of these other factors a “long reporting” creditor is generally not a concern.

  7. Matt on

    I filled for bankruptcy about 2 years ago. I recently applied for credit but the lender said at least one item was not resolved from my bankruptcy. When I check my credit information on equifax I cannot find anything unresolved. All previous credit has a note saying “included in bankruptcy” or “written off”. I’m wondering if they all should say “included in bankruptcy”, or does written off mean the same thing in this case ? Could these be what the lender is seeing as not resolved in the bankruptcy ?


    • J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, LIT on

      Hi Matt. Some creditors use the term “included in bankruptcy” and other simply put “written off”, but for all practical purposes they both mean the same thing: you no longer owe that money. I suspect that the lender doesn’t know how to read a credit report (which is a common problem). I have two suggestions:

      First, check your credit report with TransUnion, because it may have different information, and that may be the credit bureau the lender is using.

      Second, ask the lender which item is unresolved. That may help define the exact issue, allowing you to take steps to correct it.

  8. Tom Reynolds on


    I declared bankruptcy nearly seven years ago. At the time it was determined that I had a minor surplus of income, even though I could barely get by with all my commitments. I followed all my duties but couldn’t pay the nearly $10,000 required to have my bankruptcy discharged.

    My question is, how long will the undischarged bankruptcy remain on my credit history?

    Thank you.

    • J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, LIT on

      Hi Tom. Based on anecdotal evidence Equifax may purge the bankruptcy after seven years, but TransUnion doesn’t start counting the time until you are discharged, so if you are not discharged it could remain on your TransUnion credit report for a long period of time.

      Your best option will be to contact your original trustee and determine what will be required to go to court and obtain your discharge.

Comments are closed.