Bankruptcy Guide - An Introduction

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a process where people who cannot pay their debts give up their assets and control of their finances, either by agreement or court order, in exchange for protection from legal action by their creditors.

Which court?

A bankruptcy case may be heard by the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA). Most bankruptcy cases are heard by the FCFCOA. The rules, forms and procedures are the same in each court for bankruptcy cases.

Forms and guides

The Court has published guides to assist practitioners and parties in this area of law. These guides relate to Judicial Registrar matters. The Guide for Practitioners and Parties in Bankruptcy Matters listed before a Judicial Registrar summarises the arrangements for Bankruptcy matters in a Judicial Registrar’s list in detail. This information is supported by a number of information sheets and a checklist for a Creditor’s Petition.

Forms are available on the bankruptcy forms page (for example, Form B6 of the Federal Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2016). Click on the name of the form (for example, Creditor’s Petition). This link will open the form in .docx or .pdf. You can then fill out, save and print out the form on your own computer.


A filing fee applies for filing some bankruptcy forms.

If you cannot afford this fee, you may be able to ask the Court to exempt you from having to pay it or to defer the time for its payment. You can get a form to ask the Court to either exempt or defer payment and information about the circumstances where an exemption or deferral can be given on the Exemptions and deferral of fees pages or from the Registry.

Interpreters for hearings

If you need an interpreter to understand what is being said at a court hearing, you will need to arrange for any interpreter that you or your witnesses may require.

If you can not afford to pay for an interpreter, the registry may be able to arrange an interpreter for you. If you want the Court to arrange an interpreter you must contact the registry at least one week before the hearing. If you do not contact the registry within one week of the hearing, the Registry may not be able to arrange an interpreter in time and the hearing may be delayed.

You can also call 131 450 and speak to the registry through a telephone interpreter.

Interpreters to communicate with Registry

If you need an interpreter to communicate with Registry staff you can call 131 450 (the Translating & Interpreting Service) and speak to an interpreter. Ask them to set up a three-way conversation between you, an interpreter and your nearest Federal Court of Australia Registry. If you live in Western Australia, you may directly contact the Registry staff, who will arrange a telephone interpreter for you.

It is your responsibility to arrange and pay for the cost of a translator to translate documents sent to you by the Court or the respondent.

Need more information?

For more information, including access to the Act, Rules and any of the forms mentioned in this guide, call or visit a Registry near  you.

What other information can the Courts provide?

The Courts can give you information about:

Court staff cannot provide you with legal advice.

Bankruptcy enquiries

For general enquiries about bankruptcy contact your local AFSA office or go to their website