Bankruptcy is a legal process available in many countries whose basic purpose is to resolve situations where a business or individual has an excessive debt burden. Different countries have different ways of dealing with this. The rules are even somewhat different for states of the United States. Many countries do have a public record of bankruptcy cases. This is often referred to as the bankruptcy register, though in some countries there is a similar information repository with a different name.

The basic concept of the bankruptcy register seems to fit well into the philosophy of bankruptcy. A person or company that is overwhelmed by debt is given a chance to in effect start over. All or most of the debt may be eliminated. However, it is important to retain a record that this has happened, at least for awhile. Potential creditors should have access to information about bankruptcies so they can take this into consideration when making credit decisions.

In England, the Insolvency Service maintains the Individual Insolvency Register. This lists all bankruptcies in England that are either current or have been completed in the last 3 months. It also shows Debt Relief Orders and other bankruptcy related information. It is available online free of charge from the Insolvency Service.

In Scotland, the Accountant in Bankruptcy maintains the Register of Insolvency. This shows all individual and business bankruptcies in Scotland that are either current or were liquidated within the last two years. It is available free of charge from the Companies House of the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform.

For Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Court Service provides the Bankruptcy and Liquidation Register. The Department of Enterprise, Trust, and Investment also provides the Individual Voluntary Arrangement Register. These are both available free of charge.

In New Zealand, the Insolvency and Trustee Service provides the Insolvency Register. It lists individual and company bankruptcies that are active or have been discharged in New Zealand within the last 4 years. People with multiple bankruptcies will be listed indefinitely. The Register is available free of charge from the Insolvency and Trustee Service website.

In Australia, the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia maintains the National Personal Insolvency Index. This contains present and past bankruptcies in Australia and other insolvency information. It is available through a number of Index Search Agencies that are listed on the Service’s website.

In Ireland, the High Court maintains Bankruptcy and Arranging Debtor Registers. These report all present and past bankruptcies in Ireland. They can only be searched in person at the Examiner’s Office in Dublin. There is a fee for this.

In the United States, the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system provides access to records of bankruptcies. Basic information is available free of charge. There is a charge for access to complete records of a case.

In Canada, the bankruptcy register function is provided by the Credit Bureau. It keeps a record of bankruptcies for six years. It is accessible via normal credit inquiries.

In many countries there is no official bankruptcy register or equivalent. Bankruptcy information may still be obtainable from several sources. If there are credit rating agencies active in the country, they should contain derogatory information on individuals and perhaps companies as well. Also, the court systems should have records that can be perused to obtain information about bankruptcies.