Traveling and Bankruptcy – When Do I Need To Be in Canada?
If you’ve filed for bankruptcy, or you’re considering a consumer proposal, you might be worrying about whether your financial situation will affect your ability to travel.
This guide has all the answers you’re looking for.
It’s common for people who are thinking about filing for bankruptcy to have concerns about how their next steps will impact their freedom and flexibility to travel.
Whether you travel for work or you have family in a different country, it’s natural to want to know whether you can travel if you’re bankrupt.
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Can I travel while bankrupt?
If you owe creditors money, or you’ve fallen behind with payments, you may have been told that you cannot travel if you’ve filed for bankruptcy and warned that you have to stay in Canada.
In truth, there is no law that prevents you from leaving Canada if you’ve been declared bankrupt, and there is no need to worry about having your passport seized if you try and cross a border.
Threats and misinformation can contribute to stress and fear, and it’s important to ensure that you seek expert advice and clarification if you have any questions or concerns.
The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act covers legal elements of filing for bankruptcy, and there is no information within this document that prevents individuals from travelling while bankrupt.
Restrictions: When do I need to be in Canada?
Although it is permitted to travel while bankrupt in Canada, there are certain restrictions and stipulations.
It’s important to understand when you need to be in Canada so that you adhere to the conditions of your bankruptcy or consumer proposal.
It is common for individuals who are going through the process of filing for bankruptcy to attend meetings, and you will need to make sure that you are available.
Examples of meetings include:
- Credit counselling: credit counselling is an incredibly valuable service, which provides individuals with tools, education and skills to manage money and budget effectively.
If you’ve filed for bankruptcy or you’re completing a consumer proposal, you’ll need to attend credit counselling sessions in order to be discharged.
Credit counselling can help you to take control of your finances moving forward and to lower the risk of overspending and getting into debt in the future.
You should complete two sessions, which can be scheduled around work commitments or travel plans.
- Meeting of creditors: a meeting of creditors usually takes place when an individual puts forward a consumer proposal.
It is rare for this meeting to occur for bankruptcy.
If you do choose to file a consumer proposal, a meeting of creditors will be organised, usually with at least 3 weeks’ notice.
At this meeting, your trustee will present a report based on your finances and your assets and liabilities, and creditors will ask questions to find out more about your circumstances.
In the vast majority of cases, you will be given plenty of notice before a meeting of creditors, so if you did need to travel, you could make plans around the agreed date.
- Examination: in some cases of bankruptcy, an examination is required.
This involves an individual being asked to answer questions under oath.
If you are asked to attend an examination, you must be there in person.
Examinations are rare, and often, the individual is selected at random.
During the process, the person applying for bankruptcy will be asked to respond to questions about their finances, their assets and their financial conduct.
- Discharge hearing: in the majority of cases, people who file for bankruptcy are automatically discharged at the end of a 9-month period, but sometimes, a discharge hearing will be arranged.
If the individual has personal tax debts totalling more than $200,000 and this represents more than 75% of the total debt, there are questions about whether the mandate has been followed, or you are filing for bankruptcy for the third time, a discharge hearing will be called.
If you are required to attend a meeting or a hearing in person, you will be given notice, and you should be able to make or alter travel plans accordingly.
Is it possible to move outside of Canada?
If you are thinking of moving to a different province or you’re relocating overseas, you might be wondering whether bankruptcy will put a stop to your plans.
The answer is no.
You can move within or outside of Canada while filing for bankruptcy, provided that you meet the conditions of the agreement.
You will need to ensure that you are able to attend the meetings listed above in person and you’ll be required to comply with the following criteria:
- Making consumer proposal or bankruptcy payments on time;
- Keeping in touch with your trustee to report monthly income, changes to your finances and expenses.
You can choose to live wherever you want during your consumer proposal or bankruptcy filing, as long as you adhere to the requirements.
Will I be able to apply for a new passport?
Some people are anxious about bankruptcy because they assume that it will inhibit their ability to move around freely.
If you need a new passport, there is nothing to worry about.
Bankruptcy does not affect your rights to apply for a passport, and you won’t be rejected because you are bankrupt.
At no point in the application process will you be asked to disclose information about your financial situation.
Figures from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy suggest that personal insolvencies in Canada are becoming increasingly commonplace, but bankruptcy does not affect freedom to move around or to renew a passport.
Filing for bankruptcy outside of Canada
We strongly recommend filing for bankruptcy in Canada if you are a Canadian citizen.
You will be required to attend an initial meeting with your trustee in person.
If you have any questions, or you need advice about bankruptcy and living abroad, we will be happy to help.
If you’re in the process of filing for bankruptcy, you can still travel.
There is no law that prevents you from getting on a plane, and your ability to apply for a new passport will not be compromised.
If you do travel frequently, it is essential to make sure you are able to attend meetings and hearings in person and to ensure you comply with the terms of the agreement.
Call us today if you have any questions or concerns.
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