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Debt relief notice (DRN)

A debt relief notice (DRN) is a type of insolvency introduced in 2012. They are designed to help people who have little disposable income and very few assets.

A DRN may be available if you meet these conditions:

  • You’re not able to pay your debts, and it’s unlikely this will change in the next three years
  • Your debts add up to less than €35,000
  • You’re not a homeowner
  • You’ve never had a DRN, and you’ve not had a debt settlement arrangement (DSA) or personal insolvency arrangement (PIA) in the last five years
  • You have a low income and no large assets
  • You live in Ireland or you’ve lived or had a business in Ireland in the last 12 months

What happens in a DRN?

A DRN is legally binding, and gives you total protection from your lenders. Lenders included in a DRN are not allowed to contact you or take any action to collect the debt.

Once your DRN has been approved, you don’t make any more payments to your lenders.

There’s no fee to set up a DRN, and after three years all of the debts included in your DRN will be written off.

Setting up a DRN

You can’t set up a DRN on your own. You need the help of a debt advisor called an approved intermediary (AI). The Insolvency Service has a list of approved intermediaries on their website.

The AI will explain exactly how the DRN works and take the details of your debts, income and assets. They’ll check that you have a low income and no assets, using the following conditions:

  • You must have less than €60 left each month after you’ve paid your bills and other living costs.
  • Your assets must not be of high value. You can own assets up to the following limits:
    • A vehicle worth up to €2,000
    • One item of jewellery worth up to €750
    • Essential household furniture, appliances and tools for your job worth up to €6,000
    • Other non-essential assets worth up to €400

The AI will complete the DRN application forms and send these to the Insolvency Service. A court will then approve the DRN and your details will be added to a public register.

The AI isn’t allowed to charge you anything for doing this.

What debts can be included in a DRN?

Most common debts are included in a DRN. Credit and store cards, overdrafts, utility arrears and credit union loans are all included.

Some debts can be included as long as the lender doesn’t object. This includes taxes, rates and property service charges.

Some debts aren’t included in a DRN, and you’ll still have to pay these. Family maintenance payments, criminal fines and loans obtained by fraud are excluded from a DRN.

After your DRN has been approved

If your income increases by more than €400 per month, or your receive a lump sum of money of €500 or more during the three years of your DRN, you must let the Insolvency Service know.

You can end your DRN early by paying half of your debts – the other half will be written off. You could do this if you come into a large sum of money.

If you apply for any credit of more than €650 during the three years of your DRN you must tell the lender you’re borrowing from about your DRN.

At the end of the three years, your debts are written off and your name is removed from the public register of DRNs.

Your credit rating will be affected after a DRN, and you’ll find it difficult to borrow more money. Your credit rating will improve over time if you don’t run up more debts.

Find out more

If you want to know more, the Insolvency Service publishes a useful guide to DRNs (PDF).

If you need debt advice, call the MABS helpline now on 0761 07 2000. They’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm.

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