Can I File A Bankruptcy In Canada If I Live Abroad?

Filing for Bankruptcy in Canada While Living Overseas: A Comprehensive Guide

Living abroad can be an exciting adventure, but it does not necessarily erase the financial obligations one has back home. If you’re a Canadian resident who moved overseas and are wondering, “Can I file a bankruptcy in Canada if I live abroad?”, this article is for you. We will delve into the intricacies of filing for bankruptcy in Canada while living overseas, using a hypothetical case of a Canadian citizen residing in Australia.

Meet Jill: A Case Study

Let’s consider Jill, a 40-year-old Canadian who relocated to Australia in 2011 to start fresh, both personally and professionally. Although Jill hasn’t accumulated new debts in Australia, she is burdened with an outstanding debt of over $60,000 in Canada, owed to various creditors including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Her debts comprise unpaid personal income taxes, student loans, credit card bills, a line of credit, and a bank overdraft. Jill is exploring the option of filing for bankruptcy in Canada to protect herself from her Canadian creditors and possibly start afresh if she ever decides to return to Canada.

The Prerequisites for Filing Bankruptcy in Canada

Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act outlines the criteria for filing an Assignment in Bankruptcy in the country. The prerequisites are:


The applicant must not currently be bankrupt: An individual presently declared bankrupt in Canada or any other country is ineligible to file for bankruptcy in Canada again until they receive a discharge from their current bankruptcy.

The applicant should have some connection to Canada: This could be through residence, business operations, or property ownership. Even if the applicant isn’t a resident, they can file for bankruptcy if they own or run a business in Canada or own property there.

The applicant must owe at least $1,000 to one or more creditors: Further, they should be unable to pay their debts as they become due, or their debts should exceed the fair market value of their assets.


In Jill’s case, she meets all these prerequisites. She is not currently bankrupt, she owes Canadian creditors over $60,000, and she hasn’t paid off her debts since moving to Australia.

Filing for Bankruptcy from Overseas

Meeting the prerequisites allows a non-resident to file for bankruptcy on their Canadian debts without having to return to Canada. The Trustee in Bankruptcy will initially contact the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) to seek approval for the filing.

For Jill, the Trustee conducted a financial appraisal interview and assessment over the phone due to her inability to travel to Canada. After the assessment, the bankruptcy documents were sent to the Canadian Embassy in Australia, where Jill signed them in the presence of an Embassy official. The Embassy then returned the documents to the Trustee, who filed them with the OSB. Upon receiving a Certificate of Filing from the OSB, the Trustee informed Jill’s creditors of her bankruptcy.

In situations where it is difficult for the person to sign the bankruptcy documents at an approved office in their country of residence, the Trustee can, with the OSB’s approval, arrange for the documents to be signed by a person who has Power of Attorney for the individual filing for bankruptcy.

Duties to Fulfill When Filing for Bankruptcy

Upon filing for bankruptcy in Canada, there are certain obligations to be met. These include attending two mandatory financial counselling sessions and reporting monthly income and expenses to the Trustee for the duration of the bankruptcy. For Jill, the Trustee obtained approval from the OSB to conduct her counselling sessions over the phone.

Cost of Declaring Bankruptcy

The cost of administering personal bankruptcy is set by government regulations and will be discussed during the initial meeting with a Trustee.


In conclusion, if you’re asking “Can I file a bankruptcy in Canada if I live abroad?”, the answer is yes. However, it is a complex process with various requirements and obligations. Therefore, you should always seek professional advice before proceeding.

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