How to file for bankruptcy

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Do you want to file an application for you or your organisation (company, foundation or association) to be declared bankrupt? Or do you, as a creditor, want to file an application for another person or organisation to be declared bankrupt? If the conditions are met, you can start legal proceedings. A lawyer is only required for filing an application for another person or organisation to be declared bankrupt. These proceedings fall under civil law.

How to file for bankruptcy

Conditions to file for bankruptcy

You or your organisation (business, foundation or association):

  • have stopped paying the creditors, and
  • have 2 or more debts to different creditors, and at least 1 of those debts is now due and payable (the payment period has ended).



 You can file for bankruptcy by following these steps:

>Alles uitklappen

  • Fill in the ‘Eigen aangifte faillietverklaring’ (declaration of bankruptcy) form (in Dutch). You are the petitioner: the person filing for bankruptcy.

    Who can file for bankruptcy?

    The petitioner can be:

    A private individual

    A private individual is a person who is not acting as an incorporated organisation (such as a private company (BV), public limited company (NV), foundation or association).

    A private individual can also be called a ‘private person’

    A private individual with a business
    • a private individual who also owns a sole-trader company (for example, a freelancer or self-employed person (‘zzp’er’))
    • 1 of the private individuals who work together in a commercial partnership (VOF)
    • 1 of the private individuals who work together as managing partners in a limited partnership (CV)
    Incorporated organisation

    Do you represent an incorporated organisation, such as a private company (BV), public limited company (NV), foundation or association? If so, you can file for bankruptcy for that organisation.



    You are the petitioner, so you sign the form. Requirements for you to be able to sign:

    • Sole trader: if you and your husband/wife/civil partner have a legal ‘community of property’ (gemeenschap van goederen), your husband/wife/civil partner must also sign the petition.
    • Commercial partnership: all other partners who are private individuals must sign the petition.
    • Limited partnership: all other managing partners who are private individuals must sign the petition.
    • In cases of guardianship: if one of the private individuals has a guardian, the guardian must also sign the petition.
    • In cases of administration: if one of the private individuals is under administration or protective administration, the administrator must give his or her opinion about the petition

    Submitting the petition

    On the form, select the court in the area where you live or where your organisation is legally registered. The form tells you which documents you need to provide. You can submit the form in 1 of 2 ways: either 1) send 2 copies of the form and the documents; or 2) mark the form for the attention of the ‘Insolventiegriffie’ (insolvency clerk), and give 2 copies to the staff at the information desk at the courthouse.

    Withdrawing a petition

    You can choose to withdraw your bankruptcy petition. You can do this at the hearing, or you can write a letter withdrawing your petition before the hearing.

  • Summons to the hearing

    A few days after the court receives your petition, the court will invite you, the petitioner, to go to the hearing. This ‘summons’ (invitation) tells you when and where the hearing will take place. Bankruptcy hearings usually take place on the same day each week, often on Tuesdays.

    Are you a private individual, or a private individual with a business (the owner of a sole-trader company, a partner in a commercial partnership (VOF) or a managing partner of a limited partnership (CV))? In that case, your invitation to the hearing will tell you that you can ask to restructure your debts. ).

    If you do not need to explain your request in person

    If you, the petitioner, do not want or need to explain your petition in person during the hearing, you can write a letter to tell the court this when you submit your petition. The judge can then make a decision without an ‘oral hearing’ (talking about the case during a hearing). If the judge thinks that the case needs a hearing, the court will invite you to that hearing.

    At the hearing 

    If you have received a summons, you must go to the hearing to explain your case in person. If you do not go to the hearing, it can be bad for your case. The court will also invite the person who signed the petition with you (for example your husband/wife or partner) to go to the hearing. If that person does not go to the hearing, you must give the judge a document written by that person which contains his or her power of attorney (authorisation to act for someone else).

    During the hearing

    The judge will ask questions during the oral hearing. The judge will check to see if you meet the requirements, and he or she will then decide whether or not to grant your petition.

  • The judge usually makes a decision (in Dutch this is known as a vonnis or 'ruling') during the hearing. If this is not possible, he or she will decide as soon as possible, usually within 1 or 2 weeks. The court will send you the decision. 

    Granting the petition

    If the judge agrees to your petition:

      • you or your organisation will be declared bankrupt straight away
      • the judge will appoint an insolvency practitioner (someone who acts on behalf of a bankrupt person or business)
      • the judge will appoint a supervisory judge


    The court registrar will add the decision to the court's bankruptcy register and the European Insolvency Register. The decision will also be published in the Dutch Government Gazette.

    Effects of the bankruptcy order

    For you as the debtor
    • everything you own (except the most basic things you need to live) will be taken away
    • you will not be allowed to own or manage your property anymore
    • all your letters will be sent straight to the insolvency practitioner
    For the creditor
    • the creditor is not allowed to take away your property anymore 
    • the creditor must send his or her claim, with evidence, to the insolvency practitioner 
    • the full list of the claims that the judge has allowed will be finalised at the first creditors’ meeting 
    • if the insolvency practitioner can start to pay the creditors, each creditor will be paid according to the insolvency practitioner’s list 
    • the creditor can try to collect any debts that are left over after the bankruptcy is complete 



    If the judge rejects the bankruptcy petition and you do not agree with his or her decision, you can appeal against the decision.

  • Appeal

    If the judge rejects your bankruptcy petition, you can appeal that decision. Send your case to the court of appeal for them to review it. You must do this within 8 days after the judge makes the decision. You need a lawyer for this; your lawyer must write the appeal. 


    If you do not agree with the decision of the court of appeal, you can then appeal in cassation within 8 days. An appeal in cassation is when you ask the Supreme Court of the Netherlands to dismiss a decision that was made by a court of appeal. You also need a lawyer to do this.


How much do bankruptcy proceedings cost?

You do not have to pay court fees for these proceedings. You may need to pay other costs, for example if you hire a lawyer.

How long do bankruptcy proceedings take?

In general, the bankruptcy hearing takes place no later than 6 weeks after the court receives the bankruptcy petition. The judge then makes a decision either during the hearing or as soon as possible after the hearing.


Questions and answers

What is the difference between bankruptcy and debt restructuring (Wsnp)

The most important difference between bankruptcy and debt restructuring (known in Dutch as the Wet schuldsanering natuurlijke personen or ‘Wsnp’) is that debt restructuring can mean that a debtor does not have any more debts.

What is the supervisory judge’s most important task?

The supervisory judge is supervising the managing and selling of the debtor’s property.

What is the insolvency practitioner’s most important task?

The insolvency practitioner tries to make sure that the creditors get paid as much as possible. He or she makes an overview of the debtor’s property, the creditors’ claims and the order in which the creditors should be paid after the debtor’s property has been sold.


Legal advice

Would you like personal advice on your situation? Do you need assistance with drafting documents or during the hearing? You have the option at all times to engage the services of a lawyer or other legal advisor.

Contact the Rechtspraak Service Centre

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