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A bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years
There is no limit to how many times you can file for bankruptcy, but there is a waiting period.
You must wait two to eight years, depending on what you filed previously and what you’re filing now.
If your bankruptcy case was dismissed due to fraud, you’ll have to wait 180 days before refiling.
Ideally, you want to avoid filing for bankruptcy at all, let alone more than once. However, multiple filings from one individual aren’t unheard of. If you already went through bankruptcy proceedings and feel you may be headed for another, you’ll need to know if and when it’s possible to file again.
How often can you file for bankruptcy?
There is no limit to how many times you can declare bankruptcy, but you are limited in how often you can file. The length of the waiting period between bankruptcy filings depends on what type of bankruptcy you previously filed and what type you intend to file now.
Barring extenuating circumstances, the two bankruptcy chapters generally available to an individual filer are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling any non-exempt assets to pay off your debts, a process that can take four to six months. Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you retain your assets while following a debt repayment plan, typically over three to five years.
Here are the waiting periods for all combinations of individual bankruptcy filings:
Filing orderWaiting periodChapter 7 then Chapter 7Eight yearsChapter 7 then Chapter 13Four yearsChapter 13 then Chapter 7Six yearsChapter 13 then Chapter 13Two years
If the courts dismiss your bankruptcy proceeding without prejudice (meaning without suspicion of fraud), you can refile immediately or file a motion for reconsideration. However, if a judge dismissed your case with prejudice or you voluntarily dismissed the case, you’ll have to wait 180 days before filing again. During this period, creditors can continue their collection attempts.
Note: Not everyone is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; you must pass a means test. Filers who make less than their state’s median income automatically pass. If your income exceeds this threshold, the more disposable income you have, the worse your odds are. Ineligible Chapter 7 filers can convert their case to Chapter 13.
When should you consider a bankruptcy filing?
Filing for bankruptcy isn’t a decision you should take lightly, especially if you’ve already filed once before. Adrienne Hines, a bankruptcy attorney at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, recommends asking yourself the following questions:
Are you overwhelmed with your debt? Are you losing sleep at night worrying about paying credit cards, medical bills, or personal loans?Are you in over your head with a car or a home that you can no longer afford?
Even if these situations fit your scenario, before declaring bankruptcy, Scott Glatstian, an attorney at Rosenblum Law, recommends looking at bankruptcy alternatives like debt settlements or credit counseling. You can find our guide on the best debt settlement and debt management services here.
While you’ll want to avoid bankruptcy, it’s an increasingly necessary tool for individuals with mounting debt. According to the United States Courts, Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings nationwide rose from 120,002 in 2021 to 157,087 in 2022, a 30.9% increase. However, bankruptcies as a whole dropped to 387,721 from 413,616.
“Bankruptcy should be viewed as a financial tool rather than a sign of defeat,” Hines says. “If understood and approached timely, it can prevent the deterioration of one’s financial health. By removing the stigma surrounding debt and bankruptcy, individuals might find it easier to seek solutions and safeguard their financial future.”
How do multiple bankruptcies impact you?
Though you can file this often, you should carefully consider it due to the impact declaring bankruptcy has on your credit score.
According to Lamine Zarrad, CEO and founder of personal finance and credit-building tool StellarFi, filing for bankruptcy can cause your credit score to drop 100 to 200 points, possibly more depending on how high your credit score was pre-bankruptcy. Regardless of the type of bankruptcy you file, “multiple bankruptcies will make it harder for you to achieve financial stability, access loans for a home or car, get approved for a credit card, and more,” says Zarrad.
Note: While Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies will have the same effect on your credit score, creditors may view a Chapter 13 bankruptcy more favorably.
Bankruptcies on your credit report will continue affecting your credit for years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will fall off after seven years. However, bankruptcy can also save you from accruing more debt and help you in the long term.
You can also take steps to improve your credit score after filing for bankruptcy to avoid another. The Federal Trade Commission recommends implementing changes to your finance habits such as paying your bills on time, whittling down your debt, and avoiding taking on more debt, if possible. Be wary of any person or organization that claims they can remove the bankruptcy from your credit report, as this is likely a scam.
“Bankruptcy is an amazing tool to help individuals get out of unmanageable debt, and it’s often overlooked or stigmatized in an unfortunate way that may lead some people away from filling even though there would be a clear benefit to them,” says Glatstian. “Nevertheless, filing for bankruptcy — once or multiple times — is going to have a significant impact on your life for years to come.”
Frequently asked questions — How often can you file for bankruptcy
Is it bad to file for bankruptcy twice?
While filing for bankruptcy isn’t something to be ashamed of, filing for bankruptcy twice will damage your credit significantly.
What happens if you file for bankruptcy multiple times?
If you file for bankruptcy multiple times successfully, you may have trouble getting a loan or credit card in the future. If you file unsuccessfully multiple times, you may not be granted an automatic stay unless you can prove you’re filing in good faith.