In 1997, I took a 5000 GBP loan and was not able to repay. In 1998, I left the UK.

  • Will this loan be erased from my identity?

  • Will I be able to get a UK visa again?


Will this loan be erased from my identity?

will I be able to get UK visa again?

I suspect these questions are rather separate. However as you didn't' pay there may be a judgement against you in court that perhaps will be flagged up when you apply for a visa however it is not a criminal offence (to not pay your debts providing you did noting else illegal (e.g. fraud))so may have little impact on your visa. -- it might be best to ask this question about your visa on travel SE or some other relevant SE.

Will this loan be erased from my identity?

For an answer to this question you could try doing a credit check this should be possible for free providing you can show who you are.

What the bank will do is somewhat speculative they may have written it off as bad debt already or have otherwise stopped actively persuading it. But they might also still be looking. Not much you can do about this either way.


Generally, in British style law, several things happen with old debt, all working in your favor to "forgive" the debt.* Debt generally is not a crime, it is a tort. Google the difference if you don't know it.

The lender's right to sue you ends after a certain time, because it is impractical to litigate a very old matter. Paperwork is lost, recollections fade, etc. Debts typically become time-barred after 3-10 years depending on jurisdiction. If a lender sues you within that time, it becomes a court judgment with another time limit in the 4-10 year range, but judges generally don't allow lawsuits to proceed if they are unable to serve you notice of the lawsuit. Suffice it to say, after 19 years you are almost certainly in the clear here.

Private companies maintain a credit report on you, logging the borrowing you have done and your performance at paying it back. Governments require that they purge old data after 6-10 years, because it is unfair for a mistake made 7 years ago to "follow you around forever". After 19 years you are definitely in the clear.

By "in the clear", I mean in the clear of everything. We're not even getting into visa issues.

Generally, immigration ignores torts. With one exception: if you lie to an immigration office, the lying is cause for refusal and ban. So never guess with an immigration officer, this isn't a school exam.** They care about your financial health generally because it exposes people likely to illegally be seeking work or doing business (violating their e.g. tourist visa).

So I would expect this old debt to have no effect on your immigration.

With rare exception*, your best bet is to leave it alone. That company may continue collection efforts (it's allowed to do that), but the debt is time-barred and they cannot do anything to you unless you "engage". For instance paying on the debt resets the clock, and all of the above now applies. Still won't affect immigration.

*Mind you, this does not apply to special categories of debt, such types of debt the government chooses to protect, such as

  • back taxes
  • student loans, often and to certain limits
  • Money restitution for crimes, this having been ordered by the court
  • torts when the government itself is the counterparty (usually)

** On a school exam, leaving it blank is a guaranteed 1 point ding. Guessing always helps, because a wrong guess is the same -1, but a right guess is +1. In immigration, saying "I don't know" is a -1. Guessing wrong is instant fail.

  • +1 This is a very good answer. However, the rules on limitation (in this case 6 years) talk about "the earliest time at which an action could be brought" it might be that being out of the country means this time does not start until return of the defendant (or until the defendant could be located). – Steve Smith Apr 2 '18 at 10:48
  • @SteveSmith There are precious few things which pause the clock. I'm pretty sure that clause is there to resolve quibbles over when the clock starts (e.g. sign contract in May take goods in September, get sued in June 6 years hence, defendant might as well try claiming time-barred, but judge is right to laugh in his face). Interepretations like that will be found in case law, so hit up Google Legal, which is the closest thing to Lexis-Nexis we can get. – Harper Apr 2 '18 at 18:38

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