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General Filing Requirements for Debtors


The Filing Requirements lists (linked below) are intended to assist principally debtors who are individuals (and who may have no attorney) in assuring that they are aware of all documents they must file in a case. (Corporations and partnerships are required to be represented by an attorney.) The filing requirements are discussed at greater length in the Instructions for Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. For non-individuals, See These Instructions. Pursuing a bankruptcy case can be difficult:


The petition is the document you file to commence your bankruptcy case. Your petition must be filed using the most recent version of the Official Form for a petition.

In short, in commencing a case, an individual debtor must simultaneously file (at least):

  • a completed petition,
  • a mailing matrix and list of creditors1
  • a Statement of Your Social Security Numbers, and
  • the filing fee (or a properly executed Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments or Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived).

Below is a checklist for completing the petition and for filing the documents required to be filed with the petition. There are additional documents, such as schedules, that can be filed within 14 days of the filing of the petition2, but a debtor should be aware that preparation of those documents will take time, and a debtor may find it desirable to have all required documents prepared for filing with the petition so that the Clerk’s office can advise of any deficiencies then.

  • Petition (Official Form 101 or 201):
    • detailed instructions for completing the petition can be found here (for non-individual debtors, click here): some assistance in completing the petition can be obtained at the Bankruptcy Assistance Center.
    • the petition must be signed:
      • the signature of the debtor and date executed in the block at the beginning of Part 7;
      • the signature of the debtor's attorney, if any;
      • the signature of the debtor in the block on the petition entitled "Signature of Debtor," with the debtor's telephone number, if not represented by an attorney. 

        NOTE: In this signature block, the “notice required by 11 U.S.C. § 342(b)” is Director’s Procedural Form 2010 (Notice Required by 11 U.S.C. §342(b) for Individuals Filing Bankruptcy).

  • A copy of the Certificate of Credit Counseling attached to the Petition (if Part 5 indicates one is attached). Information about the required pre-petition Credit Counseling can be found here.
  • Filing Fee You are required to pay with the petition a filing fee in the case unless (1) you apply for and are granted a waiver in a chapter 7 case (see Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived, Official Form 103B) or (2) you apply for and are granted permission to pay the fee in installments (see Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in InstallmentsSamples of Installment Applications). If you fail to obtain a waiver and fail timely to pay the filing fee, the court may dismiss your case. See Filing Fees Discussion and Checklist on our website.
  • Mailing Matrix. For the requirements regarding the mailing matrix which must accompany the petition, see LBR 1007-2 and General Mailing Matrix Requirements on our website.
  • Official Form 121 Statement of Your Social Security Numbers. This form gives the court your full Social Security number or federal Individual Taxpayer Identification number. To protect your privacy, the court will make only the last four digits of your number known to the general public. However, the court will make your full number available to your creditors, the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator, and the trustee assigned to your case.


In filing papers in a case, a debtor must be careful to redact (blacken out) or not include any personal identifiers. See the discussion under Protecting Privacy (Personal Data Identifiers) on our website.


By reason of filing a voluntary petition, a debtor must file, in addition to the items required to accompany the petition, certain other documents. These documents generally must be filed within 14 days after commencement of the case, unless the court grants an enlargement of time on motion.  The attached checklists indicate what those documents are depending on whether the case is one under Chapter 7, 11, or 13 (and also indicate the documents that must be filed with the petition).


Under Bankruptcy Rule 1007(a)(1), you are required to file with the petition a "List of Creditors," including all creditors, other parties to any executory contract or unexpired lease, and any co-debtor (such as a guarantor or co-signer). Typically the List of Creditors and Mailing Matrix are combined. Therefore, the Mailing Matrix filed in the case, in accordance with the Clerk’s Mailing Matrix Guidelines, will constitute the required List of Creditors.

Warning! Failure to timely file these required papers may result in dismissal of the case:

  • There are limits on the court’s granting an extension of the 14-day period. See 11 U.S.C. § 521(a) and (c)Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1007(b) and (c).

  • 11 U.S.C. § 521(i)(1) generally requires that if certain of these required documents are not filed “within 45 days after the date of the filing of the petition, the case shall be automatically dismissed effective on the 46th day after the date of the filing of the petition.”