Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

CALL OUR EXPERTS:debt-sage-south-africa-contact-us-phone-us.svg010 005 5350 OPERATING HOURS: Mon to Fri: 08h00 - 17h00; Sat: 09h00 - 13h00 

Understanding the Debt Review Timeline: How Long Will You Stay on Debt Review?

Debt review is a legally sanctioned avenue for consumers grappling with debt. It is important to understand how long you might be under debt review before embarking on this journey to financial recovery. This is among the leading questions that l am asked daily during consultations with clients. “How long will l stay on debt review”? This question takes number one in terms of the frequently most asked questions. The length of time that debt review lasts is not one-size-fits-all as it varies from person to person based on several factors. The best answer l can give to this question is that it depends on several factors. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the timeline of the debt review process, the factors that affect its length, and strategies to exit as swiftly as possible. 

What is Debt Review?

Debt review, also known as debt counseling, is a process designed for individuals who are unable to meet their monthly debt obligations. Governed by the National Credit Act (NCA), it allows indebted consumers to restructure their debt and benefit from reduced payments and interest rates. To learn more about the benefits of debt review click here.

Factors Influencing Your Debt Review Timeline:

  1. Total Debt Amount: The aggregate amount of debt you owe is a primary determinant of your time under debt review. A larger debt sum will typically require a longer repayment period. Just to put things into perspective, let me give you an example. If one owes R10 000 and they pay R1 000 per month, it will take 10 months to be exact on debt review. On the other hand, if one pays R2 000 per month on the outstanding debt, they will take 5 months on debt review. As you can see obviously the higher the monthly contribution amount, the quicker one pays off their debt and is removed from debt review.

  2. Disposable Income: Your available income, after critical living expenses, is crucial. It influences how much you can allocate towards repaying your debt, thereby affecting the length of the debt review process.

  3. Interest Rates and Creditor Concessions: The interest rates negotiated by your debt counselor, along with other concessions from creditors, play a significant role in calculating the debt repayment period.

  4. Personal Payment Discipline: Adhering strictly to the payment plan can potentially shorten your time under debt review. Once one has signed up for debt review and agreed on the monthly contribution amount, we proceed to prepare a court application to obtain a court order for the credit providers. This makes the debt restructuring under the debt review application binding. Conversely, missed payments can extend it. Most importantly, the more committed one is to keeping up with their repayment amount and paying more towards their debt when they can, the sooner they will be able to exit debt review.  Click here to learn more about the consequences of missing payments under debt review.

Typical Duration of Debt Review

Debt review is not a quick fix. It's a thorough process typically spanning 3 to 5 years, depending on the aforementioned factors. During this period, consumers are expected to live within a budget and meet their renegotiated payment obligations.

early settlement

You can settle all the accounts on debt review without incurring early settlement penalties. It is important to note that debt review is flexible. This implies that despite having an agreement to pay a certain amount every month, should one win the national lottery (lotto) today, we will proceed to pay off all accounts under debt review and issue a clearance certificate. Credit providers and credit bureaus are serviced with the issued clearance certificate and within 21 business days, one’s profile is not flagged as under debt review.

In this case, you can see that debt review can be used to buy time in cases where the consumer is struggling to service their debt due to reduced income as a result of a spouse losing their job or due to a drop in business income.


When renegotiating new terms under debt review, the debt must solve in 60 months. What is important to note is that credit providers have repayment periods that they want clients to adhere to. This is generally 60 months that is 5 years. This is the most that credit providers can accept. What this means is that the amount that we will propose to pay every month should at least pay off the outstanding debt within 5 years. This excludes the home loan. This is part of the agreement between debt counsellors and credit providers. We exclude the home loan because should one pay off all the other debt and is left with the home loan by law we have to issue a clearance certificate.

In this respect, I would say that it generally takes 5 years maximum to be on debt review mainly because of what is deemed acceptable repayment periods of accounts while under debt review by the credit providers. This makes it a case of striking a balance between what the credit providers deem acceptable tenure for accounts under debt review and what one can pay monthly. In this respect, generally within 3-5 years, one should be debt-free and issued with a clearance certificate.

Navigating Through Debt Review

  1. Work Closely with Your Debt Counselor: Your debt counselor is your guide. Their expertise in negotiating with creditors and managing repayment plans is vital for a successful debt review process.

  2. Stick to the Plan: Consistency in following your payment plan is critical. This commitment can not only reduce the time you spend under debt review but also lead to financial habits that can benefit you long-term.

  3. Avoid Incurring New Debt: Acquiring new debt during the review process is prohibited and can lead to complications or extensions in your debt review timeline.

Completion and Clearance

Upon fulfilling all obligations under the debt review, you'll be issued a clearance certificate by your debt counselor. This document marks the end of your debt review journey, and it will lead to the removal of the debt review flag from your credit profile.


The length of time you'll spend under debt review is a complex interplay of personal financial circumstances and commitments. While the process is not instantaneous, it offers a structured and supportive path to debt freedom. Remember, debt review is not just about overcoming financial challenges; it's about equipping you with sustainable financial practices for the future.

Stay committed to the process, maintain open communication with your debt counselor, and focus on the end goal—regaining financial control and peace of mind. With patience and diligence, the period you spend under debt review can be an investment in a debt-free future.


If you are stretched and struggling to service your debt every month, it can be hard to know where to turn. We are available to help you find help in a way that’s best for you. We will guide you through the entire debt review process and help you deal with your debts and become debt-free.  Complete the free callback form to the right and we will get in touch right away.

Take back control of your finances?

Let us call you back.

* Indicates required field


Get in touch with our Debt Advisers by calling us or via our contact form.

Subscribe to our mailing list:

Follow us on: