How Does Filing Bankruptcy in the U.S. Affect My Foreign Debt?

By Ryan C. Wood

In today’s world traveling and living in different countries is not very difficult.  It is no surprise that people may owe debts in different countries as well since credit can be obtained easily.  What do you do when you owe debts in different countries and you need to file bankruptcy with our bankruptcy lawyers in Union City?

First of all, if you live in the United States, it would be difficult for a foreign creditor to enforce their debts against you.  Different states have different rules about whether or not a foreign creditor can collect or enforce a judgment of a foreign debt.  In order for a debt to be recognized and enforceable, the foreign creditor would need to “domesticate” their debts.  Different states have different rules regarding domestication of debt.  In some states a foreign creditor can enforce their debts against you if they meet the requirements of the Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act (“UFMJRA”).  In addition to meeting the requirements of UFMJRA the foreign creditor must have had personal jurisdiction over you or subject matter jurisdiction over the matter.  The in most states courts have a lot of discretion over whether to allow enforcement of these debts even if the foreign creditor met all the requirements.  Therefore, a lot of foreign creditors may not go through all these steps to try to enforce their judgment against you unless it is was worth their effort to do so.

Regardless of whether or not a foreign creditor domesticates their debt, all creditors are subject to the automatic stay that is in place when you file for bankruptcy in the United States with a bankruptcy attorneys in Fremont.  It does not matter if the debt is from the United States or from another country.  This means that if the foreign creditors try to collect from you or file a lawsuit against you after you have filed for bankruptcy protection they are subject to sanctions as applicable under the Bankruptcy Code.

This does not mean you are home free however.  Filing for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. only protects you from the collection of the debt while you are in the U.S.  As soon as you return to the foreign country the foreign creditors may still pursue the collection of the debt.  For example, if you lived in Canada and moved to the U.S. and filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S., the Canadian creditor cannot collect from you in the U.S., but if you return to Canada, the Canadian creditor can still pursue you for the Canadian debt unless you file for bankruptcy protection in Canada.