Bankruptcy Certificate Requirements
Receiving a bankruptcy certificate is a required first step in filing for bankruptcy. To receive a certificate, you must complete a credit counseling course from an organization approved by the Department of Justice's U.S. Trustee Program. Once you receive this pre-bankruptcy counseling certificate, then you can file for bankruptcy. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, then you must complete a debtor education course after filing but before your debts are discharged. Another bankruptcy certificate is issued when you complete the debtor education course.
The U.S. Trustee Program operates in all states, except for Alabama and North Carolina. If you live in either of these states, court officials called Bankruptcy Administrators approve the organizations that provide credit counseling and debtor education courses.
Obtaining a Pre- or Post-Bankruptcy Certificate
When you enroll in a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course, allow 60 to 90 minutes to complete the session. During that time you will be counseled on:
- Your personal financial situation and review your current financial buying habits and goals
- Assist in setting up a personal budget plan
- Discuss various debt options including bankruptcy
You can take these courses in person at an approved credit counselor's office, by phone, or online. The courses generally cost $50, depending on your location and the types of services you receive. If you cannot afford the fee, the organization is required to provide the counseling for free.
After you finish the course, you will receive a bankruptcy certificate so that you can begin filing for bankruptcy, if you decide to proceed. These certificates are valid for six months (180 days) from the date of the certificate.
The post-bankruptcy debtor education course must be a minimum of two hours, and the cost ranges from $50 to $100. Waivers are also available if you cannot afford to pay the fee. This course covers:
- Budget development
- Money management
- The wise use of credit
- Consumer information
The bankruptcy certificate for the debtor education must be filed before the forty-fifth day after the creditors meeting for Chapter 7 cases or, for Chapter 13 cases, no later than the date of your last payment in the repayment plan or the date of the filing for the Motion for a Discharge.
Earn a Bankruptcy Certificate Through ACCC
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and need a bankruptcy certificate, contact American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) for information about our confidential debt assistance programs. We might be able to provide options that can help you avoid filing for bankruptcy. If you still decide to pursue bankruptcy, we are approved by the Department of Justice to provide you the counseling and debtor education required to earn pre- and post-bankruptcy certificates.
ACCC is a nonprofit, Better Business Bureau accredited credit counseling agency with an A+ rating. As one of the top credit counseling organizations in the nation, we offer effective, successful debt management solutions regardless of your location.