How to Find the Date a Bankruptcy Was Discharged

By Elizabeth Stock

After the conclusion of your bankruptcy case, you will receive a bankruptcy discharge. A bankruptcy discharge signifies the end of your case and all debts included in the bankruptcy case will no longer be legally enforceable. This means that creditors listed in your bankruptcy petition will no longer be able to contact you or initiate legal proceedings against you. If you are uncertain of the date of your bankruptcy discharge, there are several ways to find it.

Waiting for the Mail

Receiving notice of the date of your bankruptcy discharge may be as simple as checking your mail. According to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the bankruptcy court clerk will mail a copy of the order of discharge to you. The bankruptcy court clerk will only send out new bankruptcy discharge notices. So, if your bankruptcy discharge is old, you might have already received notice.

Contacting the Clerk

You also have the option of contacting the clerk of the bankruptcy court if you misplaced your discharge order. Be aware, however, that you must contact the clerk of the court that entered the discharge order. The clerk of court will charge you a fee to search through the bankruptcy court records. If you need a certified copy, expect to pay an additional fee. If your case has been archived, the court will charge a fee to retrieve the order and it may take some additional time to locate your case. To determine the amount of the applicable fees, contact your bankruptcy court as the fees may differ from state to state. The clerk may be willing to mention your date of discharge to you over the phone if you do not need a paper copy of the order.

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Accessing PACER

You can also access your discharge order by using PACER. PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is an electronic public access service that provides information about all cases filed in federal courts, including bankruptcy courts. To use PACER, you must register with the PACER Service Center. Complete the free online registration form, providing your contact information. PACER charges a fee depending on how much you use the service. For example, PACER charges a $.10 per page retrieval fee, but if you spend less than $15 in a quarter of a year, the service is free to use. Assuming you do not need to look up a lot of documents, PACER will likely be free for you to use to access your discharge order. Simply enter your case number into the PACER search function to find documents related to your case.


If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will receive a discharge about three to four months after you file your bankruptcy petition. For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the discharge will occur at the completion of the repayment plan. Typically, a repayment plan takes three to five years to complete. If you were represented by an attorney during your bankruptcy case, your attorney will likely have a copy of the discharge order or can assist you in using the PACER system.

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How Will I Be Notified That My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Is Closed?


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Bankruptcy Filing Vs. Discharge Date

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.

How to Get Proof of a Discharged Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy discharge is typically one of the most helpful aspects of a bankruptcy case, since it legally erases the debtor's liability to pay certain debts. Debtors may need copies of the court-issued discharge to prove lack of liability to creditors even long after the bankruptcy case is closed, so copies are available from the bankruptcy court where the discharge was issued.

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When a person applies for a new loan or refinancing after bankruptcy, it is common for some lenders to want proof of discharge. This can easily be established with bankruptcy records. You may obtain a copy from the bankruptcy court, the attorney in the case, or online.

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