How Does a Person Declare Bankruptcy Overseas?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

People that live and work overseas but still owe money in the U.S. can file for bankruptcy.

How to File Bankruptcy From Overseas

Bankruptcy can be filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy District where you lived for most of the last 180 days. Clearly this is impossible if you have been living overseas. If you have a home, business, car, or bank account in the United States, this may be sufficient to file bankruptcy in the district where the assets are located.

Once the location of where to file bankruptcy has been settled, the bankruptcy procedure is the same as it is for U.S. Residents. Even this can be problematic for those living overseas because debtors are legally required to personally attend the bankruptcy hearing. Debtors must be present to answer any questions the creditors or bankruptcy trustee may have.

Coming back to the U.S. will be expensive. Consider transportation costs from abroad to the United States. Will you have to pay for lodging while in the United States?

Filing bankruptcy can cost up to $2,000. You have to pay attorney fees and court costs. You have to decide if the transportation costs and bankruptcy fees are worth filing bankruptcy. Would your money be better spent paying the debts?

Why File Bankruptcy from Abroad?

Individuals who live abroad may have an overwhelming amount of debt back in the United States. If these individuals have assets or property in the United States, they may want to protect it from creditors by filing bankruptcy. Each bankruptcy chapter has its own requirements. Debtors must meet the legal requirements to qualify to file bankruptcy.

Even if a person lives abroad, creditors can still file judgments against them for unpaid debt. Judgments allow creditors to seize bank accounts, place liens on homes or land, or seize other personal property. Judgments are a legal action filed in court.
These judgments will not go away. Creditors will continue to work to take your property. If you are not present in court to fight the judgment or negotiate a settlement, it is at that point that you run the risk of losing some of your assets to the creditors. Filing bankruptcy prevents creditors from seizing certain assets.

A bankruptcy attorney can explain collections, judgments, asset protection, and bankruptcy law to you. Together you and your attorney can discover the best course of action for your situation.

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