The bankruptcy filing date is the date when you file the petition for bankruptcy with the court. By contrast, the discharge date occurs toward the end of the process. How long it takes to get from the filing date to the discharge date depends on which type of bankruptcy you file. Chapter 7 is debt elimination and may take only a few months. Chapter 13 involves a debt repayment plan and it may take years until your remaining debt is discharged.
The filing date is the official date your bankruptcy case begins. On this date, you file all the required paperwork for opening a case in your state's bankruptcy court. This includes the petition that asks the court to grant your bankruptcy and lists all your debts, assets and other financial and personal information. The court sends notice to your creditors about your case as soon as possible after you file.
The discharge date is the day the court officially releases you from personal liability for the debts included in your bankruptcy. A discharge is not the official closure of your case, and the court can set it aside if you don't do what the court asked. For example, if the court asked you to turn over an asset and you fail to do so, you can lose your discharge. The final decree, which may come at the same time or after discharge, is the legal closing of your bankruptcy case.