How long does information stay on your credit report?

What does your credit report say about you? This ever-evolving bank of information gives lenders a unique insight into how you manage your money. It’s a potted history of your open accounts and past credit agreements, but it’s not exhaustive and information can fall off your report over time.
That’s right; your missed payments and financial fumbles don’t have to follow you around forever!
The length of time any piece of information will stay on your credit report will depend on what type of information it is and whether it’s considered positive or negative.
Most negative information stays on your credit report for between two and 10 years. A debt management solution like an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), for example, shows lenders that you’ve struggled to make payments in the past. This can remain on your report for up to six years.
In contrast, an open bank account can stay on your credit report indefinitely, proving to lenders that you’re a loyal customer. Hard credit searches sit somewhere in the middle, dropping off your credit report after two years.
Got a question about a specific piece of information and how it might impact your credit score? Why not jump to:

What information can impact my credit score?

Your credit score is a three-digit number used to represent how you act as a borrower.
There are three different credit reference agencies in the UK – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and each can use different information to calculate your credit score.
While the agencies keep their cards close to their chest on how they exactly calculate your score, it’s likely that your credit score will be affected by:

  • Late payments
  • Missed payments that have been passed on to a debt collection agency
  • The number of hard credit searches you have in a short time
  • Entering a debt management solution like an IVA
  • Having a County Court Judgement (CCJ) issued against you
  • Declaring bankruptcy
  • Having financed assets repossessed
  • Your financial connections
  • Your active accounts
  • Any closed accounts that were paid off in full and on time

What is a default?

Debts enter default if you miss a payment. This can be considered as breaking the terms of your agreement. A debt can only default once and you’ll usually receive a default notice in the post between 30 and 270 days after the missed payment date.
Once this letter arrives, you can act straight away and make up the missing payment. Can’t afford to get back on track? Your loan will default and be marked on your credit report.
Defaults typically only apply to debts regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This includes things like credit cards, payday loans, personal loans, and car finance agreements.

How will defaults affect my credit score?

If you’ve received a default notice, don’t panic! I Act fast, make the missing payment, and the notice shouldn’t affect your credit score.
However, if you don’t have the funds available to cover the missed payment and do end up with a default, it will be listed on your credit report and can negatively impact your score.
As the default tells lenders that you’ve not been able to make payments in the past, having one listed on your credit report can make it more difficult for you to get a new loan.

Remember, never bury your head in the sand if you can’t make your payments. It’s important that you’re transparent and communicate openly with your lender as they’re required to help you put solutions in place to help you navigate financial difficulties.

How long will it take for my score to recover?

A default can stay on your credit report for up to six years, even if you eventually pay off the rest of the debt. During this time, you might find it hard to qualify for new credit agreements like a car finance deal or mortgage.
You can make moves to rebuild your credit score throughout this time and, once six years have passed, the default will drop off your report. 

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is an option for people who are deeply in debt and unable to find a way out. It’s a type of insolvency, legally binding, and lasting for 12 months.
Once you’ve been declared bankrupt, you’ll usually need to sell off any assets you have so that the proceeds can go towards paying off your debts. Any remaining unsecured debts that you can’t cover will usually be written off so you can make a fresh financial start.

Will bankruptcy affect my credit score?

Bankruptcy is usually only an option for people in extreme financial difficulty as it can affect their ability to get credit for several years.
If you do go down this route, your borrowing will be restricted for at least 12 months. If you want to borrow more than £500, you must notify the lender that you’re bankrupt first. Typically, this means you’ll either be refused credit or only offered loans with a high rate of interest.

How long will it affect my score?

Your bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for six years from the date it starts. But keep in mind that your bankruptcy restrictions can be extended, especially if it’s determined that the bankruptcy was the result of your dishonest or reckless behaviour. In this case, it could last up to 15 years and remain on your credit report throughout.

What is an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)?

An IVA is a debt management solution designed to help people who are struggling to keep up with all their repayments.
It’s a legally binding agreement negotiated with your creditors on your behalf by an Insolvency Practitioner. During your IVA, you’ll make an affordable repayment each month, which will then be divided among your creditors. Once the agreement ends, your remaining debt will be written off.

Will it impact my credit score?

While having an IVA can help you get back on track with your debt repayments, it will be recorded on your credit report and so can negatively affect your score. Your details will also be included on the public Insolvency Register.

How long will it take to recover?

An IVA can stay on your credit report and affect your score for up to six years from its start date. You’ll also need to get written permission from your Insolvency Practitioner if you’d like to apply for more than £500 worth of credit during your agreement.

What is a County Court Judgement (CCJ)?

If you owe money to a creditor and they’ve applied to the courts to recover their funds, you could be issued with a County Court Judgement (CCJ). This means that the court has ruled that you owe the debt and must pay it back.
You’ll usually receive your CCJ in the post and the letter will explain how much you owe, how to pay, who to pay, and when you must pay by.

Will a CCJ affect my credit score?

Unfortunately, a CCJ signposts to lenders that you’ve failed to pay a previous debt, which can make them see you as a higher risk borrower. As the CCJ will be listed on your credit report, it will likely negatively impact your credit score and make it hard for you to borrow money. You might also find it more difficult to rent from a private landlord or property agency.

How long will it affect my score?

CCJs typically remain on your credit report for up to six years. After this time has elapsed, it will also be removed from the Register of Judgements, Orders, and Fines, even if you haven’t paid the original debt.
You might be able to have your details removed from the register – and potentially your credit report – earlier if you can prove to the court that you don’t owe the debt, or you were able to pay the debt within a month of receiving the CCJ.

Can I reduce the impact of these things impacting my score?

The good news is that both negative and positive information regarding closed accounts will eventually fall off your credit report and won’t be hanging over your head forever.
While negative information can remain on your credit report for up to six years, their impact on your credit score can lessen over time.
And there are steps you can take to reduce the impact of negative information on your score and help it start to recover:

  • Make changes to improve your credit such as registering on the electoral roll, making payments on time, and reducing the number of hard searches on your credit score.
  • Get any inaccurate information removed by raising a dispute with the relevant credit reference agency.
  • Check your financial links to make sure you aren’t connected to people who have difficulty managing their funds and could be negatively impacting your score.

FAQs about credit reports

Does debt go away after 7 years?

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, after a certain amount of time, your debt will become statute barred. This means that although the debt technically still exists, it can no longer be enforced with a court order.
The limitation period before the debt becomes statute barred for most types of debt is six years. This includes credit cards, catalogue debt, overdrafts, personal loans, electric arrears, and Council tax arrears.
The six-year limit doesn’t apply to mortgage shortfalls (which can be enforced for 12 years), personal injury claims (only three), and debts owed to HM Revenue & Customs, which have no limitation period.

What stays on your credit report forever?

While most financial information will fall off your credit report eventually, open accounts can remain indefinitely. If you’ve had the same current account for several years, for example, this will stay open and be listed on your credit report until it’s closed.

What is a good credit score?

Each of the three credit reference agencies have different credit score bandings that define whether your score is poor, fair, good, or excellent. In most cases, if the scale is 0 to 1000, a good credit score will be one that is over 700.